When other babies arrived -- the first, exactly nine months after The Boy -- things changed even more. We all still got together for dinner or special occasions, but instead of debating politics or making music, we sat around and watched the babies while we discussed diaper rashes and teething remedies. I don't think any of us really minded the change, though we acknowledged it self-deprecatingly. "What parents we've become!" we laughed. "We're old and boring." But we all were ready to be parents, and the babies were chubby and adorable. It was different, but good.
Now, all those babies are toddlers and preschoolers. When we get together, we have to remind them to share and be nice to their friends. We watch them race around our yards and dig in the dirt. Things are changing again.
We hosted a dinner party the other night, inviting the parents of the baby boy who arrived nine months after The Boy and new friends, the parents of one of The Boy's school pals. Their children are 8 and 4, then we had The Boy, 3, and The Lad, 1, and The Boy's best buddy, 2. I set them up in the living room, laying out a spread of fruit and pretzels and pizza on our giant coffee table. They watched a movie while we retreated to the kitchen and dining room. When they got tired of the movie, they played in the boys' rooms. We could hear them, but not see them.
It was WONDERFUL.
I love my kids, but it was so nice to have adult conversation without being interrupted by baby babble or whining. And I think it was nice for the kids, too, to have time to themselves to socialize with their friends. Some of my favorite memories are running around our house or my aunt and uncle's house with my cousins, having our own little party while the adults played cards in the kitchen. Every so often, we would sneak into the kitchen to listen to conversations way above our heads or ask the parents to referee a particularly nasty disagreement. Usually, we were quickly shooed, though if you were quiet or especially wronged, you might get special dispensation. The same thing happened at our party, with only The Lad -- who is still so roly-poly cute, it's hard to shoo him -- getting special dispensation to sit on my lap in the adult world for a bit.
I thought when I started writing this that I might have something profound(ish) or helpful (10 tips for having a dinner party with kids) to say. I don't really, other than:
Have a party.
Give your kids and yourself some space.
Or maybe this:
Kids change things, but change isn't bad.