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I look back to college and remember a time when grilling out with the fellas, having ‘a’ beer, and enjoying some game/sporting event was a regular occurrence. We didn’t need a reason to start that process at 1:00 in the afternoon… It was Saturday and that was reason enough.
Anything was on the table: philosophy, religion, politics, sports, and thoughts about why Florida was a better spring-break destination than Virginia Beach. Great times and next to zero responsibility.
Fast forward 12 years and the situation is slightly different.
We’re saving up for a few projects/purchases for around the house and although a grill is rapidly approaching the top of that list – we’re not there yet. The stove works though, so we’ve got that going for us.
There is still beer in the fridge, but thankfully Busch light (no offense to my friends still on the Busch – you know who you are) has been replaced with something more than $0.50/can.
I’m still starting things around 1:00 on Saturdays too. Laundry, walk with the girls to the park, trip to the store, workout… Then I’ll think, “The game’s not on until tonight. Sweet! I can get some things done earlier in the day… I hope I’m still up at 9:00 for kickoff.”
The point I’m working towards is not a negative one at all, it’s just that time with the guys has been replaced with family time. Family first – that’s how we do it. When you parse out the time allocated to being a husband, father, and son – there isn’t much left over.
They say that next to time with your spouse and family is the importance of carving out some time for yourself and your own interests. As long as your ratio between those two categories (family and self) is in balance, you should be good to go. My self time had been a weekly sand volleyball game and some regular exercise… In winter though (for Ohio that can be late September – mid May) we’re restricted to the exercise.
If only there was a way to blend the two… To be a family man and still have a minute to hang out with some non-family members, that’d be nice.
Monica and I talked about the possibility of ‘play dates’ before Clara was born. “How would you go about setting that up? Who exchanges numbers? Husband can’t exchange with the other wife, right? That’d be weird… How would we pick a family?”
Mike – “Obviously Clara would have to like the kid.”
Monica – “We’d have to get along with the parents. It would be fun if they were like us!”
Mike – “True story…”
It was all great in theory, and fun to talk about, but actually making it happen is a different story. Even as the ‘raging extrovert’ I can be, you can’t just go around town handing out fliers and asking couples with strollers – “Any interest in a play date some day? You know, for the kids.”
Don’t worry, Monica kept me in check, and off the streets.
Another thing to think about – what’s the point of the play date? Are these for the kids? They’ll learn to share and play with others and all that. Or is this strictly two couples reaching a breaking point where they say, “I want to experience social interaction, eat a grilled piece of chicken, and drink a cold beer so bad that I’m literally willing to do so with a complete stranger… And let my kid play with their kid.”
I argue the point lies somewhere in the middle. The kids win by having fun and playing with kids and toys they don’t normally see on a Wednesday, and the parents get a makeshift date night with a side of shared parenting responsibilities spread amongst the group.
It sounds like a win-win to me.
It may or may not surprise you we haven’t been on a play date yet. Honestly, we’ve been busy enough to forget the topic all together. But something happened recently…
We had Clara enrolled in a swim class at the Y (I was curious as to the curriculum too – no, they weren’t perfecting swimming strokes, they were getting used to the water and we sang songs. It was a blast).
Then a boy grabbed her toes in the water. A simple, “sorry,” from the other parents and a, “No worries,” from us led to 8 weeks of Clara and the boy sharing pool toys and exchanging ‘high-fives.’
The 4 parents saw it as adorable and another thing in the week to look forward to. The last class was just a couple weeks ago and pondering the coming void in the Tuesday night docket was a little sad – nothing earth shattering but the class had been a lot of fun. So was spending a couple moments with the other family…
As we’re toweling off and packing up the swim gear it happened. “Hey, do you guys wanna exchange numbers and maybe have a play date for these two at some point?”
Excitement, anticipation, and nerves all hit me at once – but no worries, we played it cool.
The moms were talking with the kids as the other dad and I talked. He said something like, “I’m not sure about the play date but we’ve got a grill and some beer…”
I smiled, said that sounds like a great idea, and started thinking about the NBA playoffs schedule.
In that moment I realized that you can’t go out and find the play date, you have to let it come to you.
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