Playing Chicken

24 Jun

A good friend of mine was in town last week, one I haven’t seen for a year.  In this small group of friends she is the one capable of bringing clarity to any situation and we were all saddened when she moved to North Carolina with her husband.  Incidentally, she would not be offended if I admitted that we were equally distraught to lose both the friend and the fantastic food creations that she prepares.

So why did I spend the evening sitting in front of the television drafting this blog, instead of meeting her for dinner?  Excellent question, I’m so glad you asked.  Remember the good times you used to have at the beach or grandma’s pool, swimming and playing games of Chicken?  Well those days are back my friend, only this time the prize is a little something I call PT – Parent Time. 

2 parents + 1 child + 2 events in different locations =

“I made plans first!” “What? Mine was on the calendar for weeks!!”

Once you and your significant other realize there is a PT conflict, the challenge is on to see who will come out the victor. Now PT is a finite and ever-diminishing resource, kind of like gasoline but typically more volatile, usually in direct relation to the number of days (weeks? months?!!) since the last PT.  The scarcity of quality, child-free time, enjoyed with or without your spouse or significant other, is one of those topics seldom talked about outside the parent circle.  I’m sure there is some conspiracy theory about how parents keep these tidbits outside the mainstream in hopes of luring new and unsuspecting folks into the “parent trap.”    Now that I’m on this side of it, I’m more inclined to think we’re just embarrassed by the predicament we’ve gotten ourselves into, being held hostage by a being not old enough to wipe his nose or tie his shoes.

When such conflicts occur some couples may have calm, polite conversations about which event or appointment is the more pressing matter.  And for a long time we did…until it dawned on me that I was always the person who ended up staying home.  Always, as in I was “socially active” only to the extent my friends posted their comings and goings on Facebook.  And so it became a game of who would blink first.

Are you lookin’ at me?

I don’t care how much you love your cherubic child(ren) or your spouse, if you hope to have any PT at any point over the course of the next twenty years you will wise up and remember a few simple rules:

1.  All is fair in love and war.  This is war.

2.  Map your exits.  Last spring the City Fire Department made rounds through the neighborhood to give out free smoke detectors and help people plan routes out of the house in case of emergency.  We already had detectors but those guys spent thirty unwitting minutes helping me visualize my escape.

3.  A few strategically placed toys (or baskets of clothes, or dogs, or piles of books, whatever) make excellent boobie traps; just remember where you placed them.

And so I missed dinner with my good friends last week.  And a happy hour after that, when DH insisted that his monthly “meeting” (read:  a bunch of guys getting together the gripe about politics) could not be missed.  I’ll admit, I blinked that time, but in my defense I was pretty tired anyway.  But tonight….let’s just say this old chicken learned some new tricks and tonight it’s margaritas all around!

DH did not look nearly that happy to be staying home instead of playing poker…

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Posted by on June 24, 2012 in Parenting


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