It’s vacation week for my children. My wife, however, is working. So, I’m the parent in charge. Not wanting to rely completely on screen time and with only so many playdates possible, I’m taking my children out. You could say we’re going on a date.
Ever had a bad date with your children? Of course you have because we all have. Maybe it involved throwing-up, or crying, or whining… Whatever it was, the date sucked, and you wanted it over.
Ever had a bad romantic date before? Of course you have because we all have. Maybe it involved boring conversation, arguments, or whining… The reasons are endless and you want it over.
Clearly, there are a lot of similarities between bad dates with your children and bad dates with a romantic interest.
But there are differences as well. And those differences can be rough.
1. Only One Person to Please
A date involves two people. When you are planning a date, you have one person to please. While I planned to enjoy my dates, my main concern was the woman. So if she didn’t like something, no problem. We could just do something else. One person, one set of quirks, one set of needs, one set of weirdities. Planning was rather simple.
Children is plural. I personally have two. So, in theory the quirks, needs, and weirdities should not have quadrupled. Yet somehow they do. It can take hours to find something both boys will enjoy. Sometimes one will wait to hear what the other one wants to do before deciding he does NOT want to do the same thing. Planning for a nuclear meltdown would be easier.
2. Getting Ready
When you get to your date’s house, you expect her/him to be ready. You honk the horn or knock on the door and she/he appears and the two of you are off. You might have to give an opinion on clothes/appearance but (if handled properly), this is brief. Okay, it might be a few minutes. Reasonable. Even the worst dates don’t usually go awry at this point.
Children need you to do EVERYTHING. They don’t do preparing. So, you have to do everything. Wash them, get their clothes out, remind them to go to the bathroom, zip their coats… If your children are of a certain age, preparations take longer than the date. When you finally do get out of the house, if you’ve forgotten something, you’re screwed. No drink is fixable, but low charge on the electronic device can lead to an eruption. Prepare poorly and the date has no chance.
3. They Ain’t Faking It
Do you smile for the camera even if you don’t feel like it? Most of us do. Being an adult means trying to make the best of any situation. We grit our freakin’ teeth praying for the damn moment to end. Your date may suck, but instead of bitching, you fake smile and then suddenly remember a reason why you have to be home. It’s over – mercilessly.
Children don’t know they are supposed to fake it or don’t know how to fake it. Seriously, if your children are like mine, they tell you exactly how they feel. Everything is out there. That can be refreshing or NOT. Yup, if they are not entertained for every second, they will sigh, whine, and say, “I’m bored.” No faking here. You know just where you stand as you sink mercilessly.
4. No Guilt
Bad dates happen. Sure, when you scheduled the date, you hoped for a good time. Yet, no one goes through the dating life unscathed. While the dates may have sucked at the time, they are probably the basis for half your stories. Remember the time when… You laugh at them at this point and use them as conversation starters.
A crappy date with your children is reason for therapy. For all of you. Your kids are on the sofa telling the psychologist all about the horrible outing and how it made them feel. Yup, they’re traumatized. Meanwhile you’re out in the waiting room with a check for $175.00. You’re bleeding money, feeling guilty as all hell, and anxious about your turn to talk.
5. Separate Places to Live
Do you know the best part of a bad date with a romantic interest? The End!! Good night, take care, bye bye. Never see you again. You get to go back to your home and never see her/him again. By the time you’re back on the sofa flipping through the channels, your mind is more focused on SportsCenter or Lifetime and your chocolate donut than the crappy date you just had. Space is a beautiful thing!
Do you know the worst part of a bad date with your kids? It doesn’t end. You get home, and they come with you. Tough luck, parent! That person who just lost it or caused you to lose it or joined you in losing it – is still there. They ain’t going no place! You can watch a SportsCenter or Lifetime marathon, eat a box of Entenmann’s donuts, and it won’t matter. You have no space!
BONUS: NOT A BAD DATE!
6. A Different Kind of Lucky
A great date ends in a certain way. Maybe it’s physical pleasure. Maybe it’s a step towards love. Even better, maybe it’s both. Whatever it is, when the plans work and you’re with someone you care about, it can be magical. It’s Disney, Hallmark, and Harlequin rolled into one. Bliss.
When the date with your kids ends and everyone is happy, you feel warm inside. You see the contentment on their faces and you know you’ve done your job as a parent. You created moments that they’ll remember and so will you. It’s a joy that makes everything else worthwhile. Bliss.
Hahaha, I had never seen it that way! You’re hilarious, Larry 🙂
So glad you liked it. I love to make people laugh.
I appreciate the laugh. You are spot on with this, a bad date with children ages you. 🙂
I love to make people laugh.
The dates become fewer as the kids get older. Just had a date with my kids last night for a Cavs game. Luckily since they’re teenagers, little prep is needed. And, in fact, the oldest comes in quite handy if both Mom and Dad have some beer–he can drive us home. 🙂
Happy New Year!!
So, they’ll be convenient one day? Just kidding.
Yeah, I know it changes as they get older. My kids are not as difficult as they once were. In fact the I’m bored comment is the most relevant these days. I guess we have to step up our game.
It’s amazing how similar the two are! It would be hard to have to go home and not have space!
Oh man that is hard!
I’ve made a promise to myself that I will go on “dates” with my kids this year, although I prefer to just call it one to one time.
Just hope they run smoothly as you are right disappointing a lady is bad disappointing your kids is way worse.
I hope the dates or one to one time goes well.
This is great, Larry!! I enjoyed the post very much!
Cool. Glad to hear it.
Haha that’s great, Larry. Maybe that’s why I only “date” one of my children at a time. Most of our other outings are necessities.
One at a time would certainly make it easier!!
My favourite date with my daughter was So You Think You Can Dance Canada Live at the Budweiser center in London. She had a great time. We even waited around after the show and she was able to get signatures from each of the dancers. I’ve had TONS of bad dates with the kids though. The bad dates usually start off with me running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get ready while running behind schedule.
So great to hear from you again. I hope you are well.
That date with your daughter sounds great! I hope you have many more of them.
I loved this! Especially about the part where the children come home with you, unlike a bad date. Then you have to get them to brush their teeth and go potty and get into bed…it never ends.
No, it doesn’t.
Glad you loved it.