When you become a parent, there appears to be this unspoken rule that says you also need to acquire Parent Friends.
You know these people: they have a kid that’s the same age as your kid, they’re similar in age/sex/location, they are willing to accompany you to the park or zoo and are also willing to swap horror stories about bathtub pooping and night terrors.
They’re designed at a support system for you, your significant other, and your child or children. It’s FOR YOU….it’s GOOD….they know about KIIIIIIDS.
But you know what I hear when people talk about Parent Friends?
SOCIAL! CHATTY! FRIENDLY! SMILING! LYING! AND SAYING THAT YOUR CHILD IS SO CUTE EVEN THOUGH HE JUST CLOCKED MY DAUGHTER WITH A TONKA TRUCK!
And then I run screaming back to my sectional couch where I don’t have to interact with anyone that I don’t want to.
Because me? I’m not a social person. Like for reals. Sure I can fake my way through a luncheon. And yeah I can @reply up a storm on twitter. But actually liking face to face interaction enough to choose to participate in it? That’s not me.
So I suppose it should come as no surprise, then, that when one of the moms at daycare invited us all to her son’s birthday party, I lied and told her we were going on vacation. The only problem was that I used that same excuse last year. And she remembered.
(Cue backtracking and feigning date confusion and some version of “Oh, the twenty second? I thought you said the twenty seventh. No, the 22nd is fine, I think. I’ll let you know!”)
Oh, the humanity.
In truth, I just didn’t want to go because I hate parties and being social and having to talk to other people because I just don’t like it. I want to stay home or go to Disneyland or do something, anything, other than be forced to interact with other adults that I only kinda know because the conversation always devolves into trite pleasantries and awkward silences and dorky smiling. And then someone makes an off-hand remark about politics or vaccinations or home schooling and suddenly I feel frozen in time like deer in headlights. Only I can’t leap away quickly into the protective underbrush.
Then, in my head, it becomes: OMG, what do I do? How do they feel about these topics? What should I let on about how I feel about these topics? Why are we talking about these topics? Do they dislike me now? Do I now dislike them?
And trust me when I say that you’re not allowed to drink enough alcohol in these situations to both get comfortable AND still remain a responsible parent.
So forgive me if we ever meet and I opt out of a playdate or kiddo birthday. I know my child might have fun, but I’m still working on it. It’s not you, really, it’s me.
That’s OK to admit, right?