It was a rare, adults-only night out. Some friends of ours invited my wife and I and another couple out to dinner. We got on the phone, shelled out a fistful of cash for a babysitter and went for it. It was six adults out for the night, leaving their ten children behind.
The couple we didn’t know (our friends’ friends) had kids several years older than our kids. Their youngest was a middle schooler and oldest was in college. Excellent! I was happy to pick the brains of people parenting older kids.
I felt like I should have been taking notes when they talked about how they openly communicated with their kids about anything and everything.
One memorable story, no need to write this one down, was when one of their kids came home smelling like pot. The mom had talked several times with her kids about drugs and was pretty sure her daughter was being honest when she said she was at a party, but didn’t smoke anything and left after a short time.
The next morning, the mom handed her daughter a drug test kit she bought from the local pharmacy. She told her daughter, “I believe you. But I would not be doing my job as a parent if I didn’t have you take this test. I love you and I hope you understand.”
Wow! I had chills when she told that story. What a badass mom! I’m not ready to have a conversation of anything close to that magnitude with my kids. I’m concerned with things like what if I don’t sign my kids up for the right sports or clubs, or what will I do when one of their friends decides they don’t want to be friends anymore. Small kids, small problems.
One bit of wisdom I gained from the night was the importance of how the oldest child feels about things. They said all it took was for their oldest to say she was loved high school to get all the other kids equally as excited to go when it was their turn. I can see that. Usually my kids’ attitudes about dinner are shaped by the opinion of what First Born thinks of the food.
As I was stressing out, fast forwarding in my head, to all the difficult conversations I’m going to have with my kids, they did have one soothing bit of information, “Once your kids get a bit older, getting out of the house for nights like this is a lot easier and you don’t even have to pay for a babysitter.”
Let’s just hope I have a few more years before some of those crucial conversations are needed.