If this was an LP/OP ("listening post/observation post") and I was the character in the covered hole watching and listening (as is the wont for those in such a place) for the barb'rous foe to come ravening down from the secret places of the stairs full of wrath and intent to unseam us from nave to chaps, this entire weekend would have rated a full-on 24-channel "Negative Sitrep, over."
It's not that we did nothing, exactly...it's just that the entire weekend was full to overflowing with the small change of toddler- and preschooler-parenting. Feeding, playing, disciplining, comforting, diverting, directing, diapering (or checking, for the older one), napping, dosing medicine, encouraging, consoling, calming, feeding again, sleeping. Both Peeper and Missy have little infections; Little Miss from cleft complications (no news there) and the Peep from a blister on his left foot that he let get dirty rather than let us clean up and bandage. They're both taking antibiotics and the Peep gets a dressing change twice a day, which he cries and screams through but before and after seems to feel confers on him a sort of odd disctinction, a Purple Foot for Peepers.Wash, rinse, repeat.
There's nothing wrong with it. There's nothing intrinsically awful or boring or pitiful. And yet, there's nothing there to entertain, inform, anger, amuse or fool you. It's Wonder Bread parenting, interesting only to the participants and sometimes not even all that much to us...
The only thing that really crossed my mind this weekend was regarding friends and friendship. And it kicked in Saturday when our friend K came by on her bike.
She looked terrific and was happy and fun and interesting as always. I felt a little awkward because we had nothing planned so we all sat and talked and played with the kidlets in the cool under the plum tree. It wasn't much in terms of entertainment for her - or for us, really, other than a chance to catch up with a great gal and a friend. (But that may be me. I'm guy-ish in that I think of friends as people you "do stuff with". Hmmm.)And it was that that got me thinking, about friends and how it seems that either friendship in general is somewhat of an ephemeral thing, or that we in particular have no gift for it.
Because I realized that outside of K yesterday, our friends Brent & Janelle fairly regularly, and the Ravas every month or so, we have not heard from or managed to set up anything with any of our friends for...well, months, I suppose.
This is simply biologic to some degree; for example, we know this terrific woman, M, who is married to an equally terrific guy, W. They're sort of like the friends you have when you're one of the leads in a romantic comedy: clever, funny, warm and loving (they've got that "we're not just cool individuals we're a fun couple" thing working)...and they get all the good lines, too.They're good people. We really like to hang with them...but...how many 30something kidless couples want to do the sandbox at the zoo for the zillionth time? Pass on the Brewfest or all-night no-limit D&D for "Kung Fu Panda" and Peanut Butter & Ellies?
So you accept that losing touch - maybe not completely, but to a greater or lesser degree - with most of your single-and-kidless friends is just a fact that accompanies reproduction, like recognizing types of vomiting and developing the ability to catch thrown food out of the air .
But it seems that we even have trouble connecting with other parents.
We've had three-martini playdates with kids from the Peep's daycare. One date only, no return engagements. We've tried the local Families with Children from China and gotten no love and no congee recipies. The area single-moms-with-Chinese-adoptees? We got the congee, but our connection with the group just never went anywhere.
We'd call and things would fall through. And, most damningly, the return calls would never come. We'd try another time and somehow that connection never got made.
It's gotten to the point where I've just stopped trying to set things up, even with people that would seem to be good prospects for friendship. I don't know what's going on; I'm not sure if it's bad timing or just coincidence or something more toxic - something fundamentally unpleasant about us that is making people shy off. I can't be all that objective about my own charm, but who the heck wouldn't love Maxine? Or be entertained by the Peeper? Or enjoy Mojo's dry wit and ability to belly dance? Is it personal hygiene? Political views? Theologically unsound? What??
But I suspect that I, or we, are starting to sound desperate. And as everyone who dated in high school remembers, that's the Tolling Knell of Death. Social Doom. The Long Kiss Goodnight. At that point it's better to accept that spending the weekends with one's own family is kismet rather than try to lure the unwilling into proximity, becoming the unspeakable in pursuit of the unapproachable. Ugh.So. Not sure where to go from here. But we either need to 1) find a couple of new friends who like us, really, really like us, 2) work frantically on our social skills, 3) completely change our personalities, or 4) get used to seeing a LOT of each other, and we're getting too damn old for options 2 and 3.
It is, as Yul Brynner famously said: a puzzlement.
Update 7/21: BTW, feel free, friends and aquaintences (assuming you read this) to post a comment re: your take on whether we have a "friendship problem" and if so, what you feel the problem is. I mean, I'm perfectly willing to use actual soap in my monthly bath if it'll make our pals more willing to invite us to go cycling or take in the Pirate Festival or the Sprockettes something.Really. We're willing to go the extra 1500 meters for friendship.