In my 4 years of parenting I’ve noticed quite a few things that are likely my own internal judgments come to light…
I am a somewhat hyper-vigilant observer, which is a great help for cultivating material for the stage and this blog, but a terrible trait for, you know, enjoying life. It often makes me, as my wife calls it, “annoyingly uptight.” My uptightness, however, is also the same trait that causes me to hover around my kids in unfamiliar situations until we all know the lay of the playland, keeps them from thunking their head off the ground because I was socializing or phone-gazing or not being at all involved in their play time. That level of involvement/concern/uptightness doesn’t make me “better” parent, but it sure as hell keeps my kids out of harm’s way, aggressive dog’s way, and “over-tall sharply-elbowed aggressive shit-head kid with phone-gazing parent’s” way.
One parent type I’ve run into is who I call “the Political Partier.” I’m not sure they even realize what they’re doing, but this is the parent who shows up at a kid’s party… WHICH ARE ALWAYS A GREAT WAY TO SPEND A FOOTBALL WEEKEND DAY INSTEAD OF WATCHING FOOTBALL ON ONE OF 35 DAYS OF THE YEAR… and doesn’t really “count.” Example? SURE, here ya go….
Couple with 1 kid. Mom and kid come to the party. Dad comes, too. Didn’t have that counted on their RSVP, but hell, we can swing another few inches of the party-sub and a juicebox, dig in! BUT… he’s almost a ghost. Sits in the corner, looks at his phone the whole time, doesn’t mingle, doesn’t really make it known his kid and wife are there, nor how he’s related to any of this. Here’s the Political Issue…
His mere presence now forces the host of the party’s significant other to assess any of that couples’ future parties as “go-worthy.”
What’s the problem? Well, now I would… just using myself as an example, not saying this has ever happened… I would have to ask “is HE going?” when they are hosting a party that I really don’t NEED to be part of. And if he’s going then I have to go because I can’t look like the guy who’s not involved with his family, right? I mean, how many times does the daughter of a mom in your youngest kid’s toddler socialization group turn 2 and have the party at an indoor petting zoo for blind animals? Once? So yeah, big day all around, better tape up my face and go. Paying for another gift and card and taking day off from football isn’t enough. Gotta BE THERE, Dad.
OR, just not go. Take the older kid off for the day while mom and youngest goes off to do their thing at the party. Identify with your other kid in your own space for a while, and bond there. Get your own slice of cake somewhere. Don’t buckle. Get out. Do what you have to do and enjoy it.
Which is a great thing to do as long as you can let go of the other parents judging you.