Monthly Archives: September 2015

Post-Kiddo Social Life: A Breakdown of the 4 Different Kinds of Events You Get Invited to as a Parent

I don’t think it is a shock to anyone that your social life changes when you have a kid. More specifically, your social life together changes a lot. For example, in the BC (Before Child) era if my friends were going out,my wife and I would join them at the restaurant, bar, party, etc. that they were going to. We didn’t really even think about what the event was. If friends were there, then we would be there.

Like everything else under the sun, this changes once you have a kid. So I thought I would breakdown the 4 major types of events you get invited to, and how parents respond to each one. This may help non-parents understand why you don’t see us quite as much as you used to.

A Breakdown of the 4 Different Kinds of Events You Get Invited To As A Parent

1) Events Where We Can Bring the Kid and They Realistically Will Not Cause Absolute Chaos:

     Examples of These Events Include…
       – Children’s parties
       – Random “fun day” activities
       – Friend’s houses that also have kids, or at least no visible drug paraphernalia

These are the bread and butter of the parental social life. We use these events to interact with friends, talk to people that don’t end sentences with thrown peas, and generally try to remember that we are still adults. At these events there will generally be an activity to entertain the kiddos while the adults pay just enough attention to avoid any ER trips due to a random toddler deciding that they were a champion knife juggler.

Sometimes these events also have non-parents. To the non-parents, let me offer an open letter of apology. I know that sitting in a circle of parents talking about their kids latest adventure in potty training, or how they can’t pronounce the the word “chicken” and it comes out “chucklin”isn’t high level conversation. I’m sorry, it’s really all we have. Our brains are fried, and we are basically one more midnight toddler “I need water” visit away from reverting to mere grunts and yells.

2) Events We Cannot Bring The Kid To, But We Want/Need to Go to and Will Get Child Care

     Examples of These Events Include…
       – Wedding’s of close friends
       – Concerts put on by musicians from an era my kid will soon think is “retro” 
       – A random overnight once or twice a year that probably includes dinner at a
              restaurant without “Chicken Fingers” on the menu

Getting child care is tough for two reasons. First of all, it’s not always that easy to find, especially if it is overnight childcare. Finding people who can and want to take a toddler overnight is a delicate balance between “Oh, how nice, this person will watch my daughter overnight!” and “What kind of maniac would accept this proposal!?! Nobody wants to put a toddler to bed!”. Due to the difficulties of meeting this criteria, the responsibility usually falls on relatives… specifically grandparents.

The second issue is I generally don’t want to leave my kid overnight. I only get to see her really after work, and on weekends. Taking more of that time away means that the thing I am going to really needs to be worth it. A night out with my wife is great, but we have to choose carefully what we go to since it does mean one less evening with our daughter.

All that being said, if we do come to your event, we must really care about it. Also, if we leave around 10, cut us some slack…. 10 PM is about an hour and a half past my bedtime.

3) Event’s One Of Us is Going To

     Examples of These Events Include…
       – Non-round number birthdays for friends… Nobody cares about their 34th birthday
       – Any social gathering at a bar
       – A gathering at a friend’s place starting anytime after about 5:17

There are a lot of events out there that we both used to go to. Most of these events take place at night, and a lot of the time are at adult venues like a bar. Since most of these events frown upon anyone who throws up before 11:30, your kiddo is probably not welcome. So you end up dividing and conquering these events. Some are easy, if a close friend of mine is having a party, or it’s a guys night out then obviously I would go.

On the flip-side if my wife’s friends are doing something then she tends to go. However, it gets complicated when you both want to go (or both don’t want to go, but one of you really needs to make it to this stupid thing and “show your face”). So next time one of us shows up to your event, just understand there were serious negotiations and political moves made at home to figure out who would be joining you.

4) Event’s That We Are Absolutely Not Going To Because The Logistics Are Not Worth It

     Examples of These Events Include…
       – Weddings for people that live far away and are not really close friends
       – Local music Facebook Invites… Ok, maybe one a year. It’s late, it’s loud, and I’m old.
       – Basically any weeknight event… Tipsy Tuesday is for a previous life.

Look, I may want to come to your thing. I probably would have come to your thing before I had a kid, but I’m not coming to your thing. The logistics and trade offs necessary to make it to your thing are either impossible or not worth the effort. I don’t mean this as an insult, I’m sure it’s a great thing, and everyone who goes will have a good time. That being said, there is just no way I can make it to your thing. No… I probably won’t be at the next thing either.

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Meet Emily Rose… She’s Awesome

Emily and my daughter at the beach

I try to cover a wide range of topics on this blog, and I’d like to step a little out of my normal box. I usually write about my kiddo, or kids in general. With that in mind, this week I am writing about someone else’s child. This post is about a little girl named Emily Rose. Why would I write about another child? Well, the catalyst is that it is Leukodystrophy Awareness Month, and Emily is diagnosed with this debilitating disease. That being said, if you are looking for a sad story about a little girl who can’t enjoy life then you are going to be disappointed. Emily could not be further from that definition.

I won’t dwell too much on exactly what Leukodystrophy is, but if you would like to learn more about the details of it there are many resources on the internet written by people who actually have an understanding of medical science. In short, Leukodystrophy is a disease that effects the white matter in the brain. The end result is a deterioration of muscle, various senses, and eventually the disease is expected to be fatal. It is a rare disease, and research on the illness is still relatively scant.  Now let’s back get back to our story…

Emily’s mother Sunshine was a work friend of my wife several years ago. They had remained friendly, but had lost contact on some level. When they reconnected about 2 years ago we learned about Emily. We found out about Emily’s diagnosis, and at the time things did not seem to be going very well. Emily had lost a lot of muscle control, she had limited vision, and she was suffering from extremely aggressive seizures on a frequent basis. The doctors, from what I understand, had instructed Sunshine and her husband to basically take Emily home to make her as comfortable as possible.  Now that we have gotten the awful realities out of the way, lets talk about a little girl who doesn’t really care what medical science says about the things she isn’t supposed to achieve.

Shortly after my wife started talking to Sunshine again, my wife requested I drop something off for Emily at their house. I will just be honest, I was nervous about seeing Emily in what I pictured as pretty dire straits. From the little I had read about the disease and with the information I had heard from my wife, I was preparing myself for the worst. I arrived at their home with the expectation of a sick, possibly bed-ridden, child.  I asked myself a ton of stupid questions…How would I react? What was the correct way to talk about her with her mother? Could I handle the sadness of seeing such a sick little girl?

Well, Emily took about 10 seconds to make me feel like an idiot for even having the thought of pitying her. She simply won’t let you treat her that way. From the moment I met her she was just a happy, playful little girl who was too busy discovering the world to be held back. Even at under two years old, she broadcast loud and clear that she isn’t defined by her disease. We played with her toys, we made music with some little bells she had, and she smiled her adorable smile at me. I remember get

ting home, and my wife asked me how everything went. I’m not really one for platitudes or cliche’s, but I just kept telling my wife “Emily light’s up the room… she won’t let you be sad for her.”

Fast forward a couple of years (a couple of years that according to doctors weren’t even supposed to happen), and Emily has made milestones that seemed impossible. Emily talks, walks, plays, goes swimming, makes absurd toddler demands, and has even started preschool. A large part of this has to do with the tireless work of Emily’s mother, and her impressive ability to keep pushing forward through walls in medical bureaucracy, and at the same time stay on the front line of Leukodystrophy research. Her drive has gotten Emily on some cutting edge treatments that are doing wonders for her.

Staying one step ahead of Emily’s disease is a fight that Emily and her family will be waging for years. However, there is a major change in the outlook. Instead of “Go make Emily comfortable.” conversation has changed to “What needs to be done so Emily can live with this?” As a parent, I cannot imagine the feeling of having that corner turned. All I can do is enjoy watching her clear the hurdles along the way.

Furthermore, Emily is one of my daughter’s close friends. Watching them play is a wonderful reminder of a key contrast between kids and adults. Kids don’t see differences the same way that adults do. Adults judge… even when we don’t mean to. Kids just observe and take it all in. For example, Emily takes some of her meals through a feeding tube in her stomach. A few days after my daughter had played with Emily we were talking about body parts (one of almost any toddler’s favorite topics), and my daughter asked what we used our mouth for. I said that people talk and eat with their mouth. My toddler, eager to correct foolish daddy at basically any opportunity, remarked that not all people eat with their mouth; some people eat through their belly! There was no judgement, no pity, none of that. Just a child noting that her friend did things a different way.

I just want to end with one final note. When we think of role models they tend to think of adults. In general this is true. Adults tend to have the experiences and life skills necessary to teach other people lessons. However, Emily is a role model to my wife and I. She is proof that we don’t pick the life we get, but we do choose how we are going to live it. We can wallow in our “bad luck”, whether that luck is diseases, finances, relationships, etc… or we can enjoy our time here as much as possible. This is a lesson that everyone can take to heart.

If you would like to make a donation to a charity focused on pushing Leukodystrophy research forward here is a direct link… Mission Massimo.

Thank you for reading. If you enjoy DadLunch, please take a moment to like us on Facebook here… DadLunch.