Taco Night


Last night we went to a new friend’s house for dinner. The parents are very friendly and interesting, and they have three daughters. Our kids are all in love with one another, but it’s very Shakespeare-in-the-woods because none of it is reciprocal. Their 3 year old is starry eyed over Fergus; he is gaga for their 8 year old, who keeps asking where Cooper is. And so on.

They invited us over for “taco night,” which I fully intend to steal as an entertaining idea, if we ever start entertaining. Taco shells and ground beef, made elegant with the little bowls of fresh cilantro and jalapenos diced by our hostess. There was plenty of wine, the kids were having fun, everyone was fed and it was not from our kitchen– it should have been a Night Off for me.

Not quite. Our friends’ home, which we had only seen previously once (and without our kids with us), is the most perfectly decorated and least child-friendly home I have ever been in. Toys get very prominent real estate in our home- they are quite visible from the front door. I know that’s a no-no according to Architectural Digest, but I feel that since, in our home, we are outnumbered by our children, it would be folly to try to deny it.

This home, I kid you not, was the most perfectly decorated abode I have ever been in. You, too, would immediately want to move in and be this cool. Everything was lime and persimmon and modern; the problem was, it was also glass, and sharp, and ceramic, and expensive.

Our children surveyed the place upon our arrival. “Where are your toys?” Fergus asked, always one to cut to the chase.

“Come on up to our room!” his young hosts said. “We have lots of stuffed animals up there!”

Up the open-plan, railing-free staircase they went, Maddie struggling after them. I watched from the bottom of the steps, smiling, pretending I was following the conversation.

A few minutes later, I excused myself to check on the kids. I found them all in the girls’ room, a Lily Pulitzer paradise of pink and kelly green. Any child’s wonderland, except… no toys. The “lots of stuffed animals” turned out to be one, on each bed. However, they did have a large television, and all the kids were already deeply engrossed in some Nick tween thing I would never let my kids watch at home. Ohh kay. Maddie seemed happy, however, chewing on the bedspread fringe, and so I told Cooper, “Keep Maddie in here with you,” and returned to the adults downstairs.


A few minutes later, as I sipped my chardonnay, I felt the hairs stand up on the back of my neck- you know, that mother Spidey sense? I turned and looked to the top of the stairs, where I saw Maddie, who lives in an apartment and does not know how to negotiate any staircase, let alone one without a railing, stepping confidently out into space like a very young (and female) Mr. Magoo.

Somehow, as mothers do, I made it to the top of the stairs in 1.5 seconds, and caught her as she stepped into my arms. “Hi, Mommy,” she crowed, as if she had known I’d be there to catch her.

And HERE is my point: where was my husband, this whole time? Still deep in Final Four conversation in the living room below, completely oblivious to the death-defying acts happening right above his head. Why is it that in these situations, it’s always the mom’s job to run around and save the kids from leaping to a certain leg fracture? Why is it only the mom who even NOTICES that such things are happening? Cocktails continued for another hour before tacos were served, and I had to save Maddie’s life another eleven times, from various jagged-edged and hazardous artwork. “I’ll take her for a few minutes,” David murmured offhandedly as he and our host wandered outside. Two minutes later, I look through the plate glass window to see Maggie one centimeter from the SWIMMING POOL, behind my dear husband’s turned back, while he was having a meaningful discussion about Villanova’s defensive strategy in that evening’s game against Duke.

And here’s the thing: he is quite bright. He knows he has a toddler next to him, and a swimming pool nearby. He has many much more complicated concepts well within grasp. And so I think he must do this on purpose, so I won’t LET him take a turn, so I will do all the child-chasing myself, and always sit next to the baby and/or crankiest child on the plane, or at a restaurant, or in church. So that no matter where we are, the children are always, for the most part, My Problem.

Is anyone else with me on this? Are our husbands playing us? Because those tacos were really good, and I’m still mad that Maddie’s visit to the powder room toilet meant I didn’t get to go back for seconds.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Marketing Mama March 30, 2009 at 5:59 pm

Wow… I agree Taco Night sounds fab. So, those children literally have no toys? OMG – their mother would be sick at our house. That’s crazy!

Second, I can see why you won’t want to go back there when you have to constantly be on guard to save your children from imminent death. I can’t believe the story about your husband and the pool. OMG.

My husband can be trusted on his own – but if I’m anywhere in the vicinity he lets his guard down and I’m on baby-life-saving duty. 🙂

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Amy March 30, 2009 at 6:17 pm

I guess you’ve hit it: as soon as we’re around they go off duty in their heads. I do like to think that Maddie wouldn’t have ended up in the pool if I weren’t there. David must have sensed my hovering presence on the other side of the window. I guess they have a Spidey sense too.

Full disclosure: this was not the family’s full-time home– it’s their vacation home. So I imagine, in their more permanent abode, they have a few more toys, but probably less than I carry with me in my diaper bag at all times.

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Tiny Footprints April 1, 2009 at 3:53 am

I have to say that I sometimes feel the exact same way… that it is some kind of conspiracy he has to ensure that he is never asked to do anything to help. Loose diapers to keep from having to change them ever and the ability to be completely oblivious to eminent danger. I wish I had one of those nanny cams sometimes… because when I have to leave the house my daughter seems to survive… but is that because he is far more proficient at caring for the child than he appears or is it because my child is far more resilient than I really want to give her credit for?

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Tina April 30, 2009 at 3:14 pm

My sons are old enough now to request father-sons time with their dad.
It’s fulfilling to see the bonding they all do. I’m outnumbered by all the testerone in my home, but I love their relationship with one another.
When I miss my boys terribly because they’re in school or I’m working, I curl up with them and watch them sleep at night or we do something special together, like go to the batting cage, movies or roller skating.

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k April 30, 2009 at 7:22 pm

I think it’s a universal rule for fathers, and you’ve summarized it very well: “as soon as we’re around they go off duty in their heads.”

Most likely if you complain about his lack of attention, you’ll get hit with “why don’t you just chill out?” or “don’t sweat the small stuff.”

I suppose all mothers are cursed with the role of anticipation: baby needs a diaper change soon, baby’s going to stuff whatever she just found on the floor into her mouth, baby’s going to trip over her own pant legs (which I asked you to roll up, 10 minutes ago)… Such is the curse.

But, of course, this is the trick: “If I don’t do it right, then fine, why don’t you just watch the baby yourself?”

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MsAmanda Jones April 30, 2009 at 10:19 pm

Thank you thank you thank you….I thought this was a move that ONLY my partner engaged in. He’s a very smart guy – that forgets he’s smart when the 2 year old is around and needs to be watched??? You have no idea how much this made me day. The funny thing is, I asked him about it once and he simply said – “you’re just better at anticipating these things than I am”….you mean DANGER!!?? It’s nice to know I’m not the only one in the mommy-super-hero role.

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hschinske April 30, 2009 at 11:50 pm

Universal rule? I don’t think so. It sure doesn’t describe my husband, and never has. Heck, it doesn’t describe my *dad*.

Helen

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Jen Ingham May 5, 2009 at 7:22 pm

I just discovered your blog and I feel like I am reading my diary! Felt compelled to comment after this post…

My dear hubby is a great dad and so awesome with our 13 month old son. But if I’m around, it’s like he forgets that he has a brain.

“Jen, Maxwell spit up on the floor.”
“So clean it up.”
“How do I clean it?”

“Jen, can you get _____ for me please?”
“You told me to take a nap, can’t you get it yourself?”
“But you’re right there.”
“Yes, resting…what would you do if I was not at home?”
“I don’t have to know because you are home. :o)”

And the wonderful catch-all phrase that he seems to love nowadays:

But you do it so much better than me.

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