Saturday night we went out. As a family we left our home and enjoyed an evening with a co-worker and his lovely wife. We don't do this often. Even less often do we take the kids with us to spend time with people who don't have kids. And this was the first time my family had met this work friend, so I wanted to make a good impression. I did not want to be the one with the completely out of control children or the mom who had to resort to shrieking and threats to keep her children from disassembling their home. That would suck.
Since we spent the day at the zoo with new friends, there was a chance that they'd worked all of their energy out and would be mellow and well-behaved. Granted, there was equal was potential for this to go completely pear-shaped. They might be exhausted and melt down. They'd been good at the zoo, they'd immediately made friends with the kids they'd only just met. At one point my friend commented that it seemed like my kids never got too far out of my line of sight. I believe I laughed in out loud. But this was the first time they'd met my kids, and the boys were making a good show of being relatively well-behaved children, I could see how she might make that mistake. My luck might hold out and they'd put on a similarly good show for the next set of new friends. Or it might not. Really, it could go either way.
Unfortunately things seemed to be working against me. On the hour long drive home from our zoo outing the children had degenerated to their primal screaming feral-child state. They were kicking each other from the confines of their booster seats, at one point someone got bit on the ear. Names were called, threats regarding birthday party invites were exchanged, in short, it was mayhem in the backseat.
When we got home they got the lecture. You WILL be on your best behavior at mommy's friend's house. You WILL say please and thank you. You WILL NOT yell. You WILL NOT fight. You WILL NOT yell. You WILL NOT hit each other. You WILL NOT yell. You WILL NOT hit my friend. You WILL NOT yell. You WILL NOT, even if you don't like what they have cooked, tell them "this tastes kind of yucky" or "this is disgusting" as you do with my dinners on an almost nightly basis. In short, you WILL be charming, well-behaved angels. Got it? Good.
We arrived a few minutes late. As we parked and found our way to their home, Big Dog asked "why" about every direction I gave him. "Turn here" I'd say. "Why?" he'd ask. "Because this is the way to their house." "Why?" he asks again. "Because this is where they live," I'd answer. "Why?' he'd ask. And so on...so you can see why I might be nervous.
When we got to the house, my friend answered the door. "Hi, I'm Mike," he says to Big Dog. Big Dog ignored him completely. He'd been told there were cats he might get to pet, so he was on the search. I prompted him, "Big Dog, what do you say?"
Slightly stunned, and obviously working hard to remember the rules from our lecture, he makes a guess, "May I please come in?" he asks. And while it was not what I was hoping for, it was disarmingly adorable.
"Sweetie, this is my friend Mike, why don't you tell him your name."
Understanding spread across his face as he understood what I needed him to do and he smiled and confidently introduced himself. Then it was Little Dog's turn.
"I'm Big Dog," he said, then quickly realized his mistake. The adults were giggling and he was embarrassed, he turned to me and said, "Mama, I forgot my name!"
"Do you remember it now?" I asked.
"Yes," he said, his confidence returning.
"Then why don't you introduce yourself?" I prompted.
"Hi, I'm Little Dog," and my friends warmly welcomed him into their home.
The boys pretty quickly settled in and found the affectionate kitty cat that wanted attention. It wasn't until later they were told there were three more cats that they were not likely to meet because they were shy, that the boys really lit up. They wanted to find the cats, and my friends, far better housekeepers and more open hosts than I, allowed the boys to look upstairs for the other kitties. The boys would go upstairs look for kitties, come downstairs and report their findings then immediately ask if they could go back upstairs. It was kind of cute actually. My friend's wife was so great with my cat-obsessed kids. She told they they may go upstairs whenever they'd like, they didn't even have to ask. She pointed them to the other cats' favorite hiding spots. By the end of the night, the boys had found all four cats. Repeatedly. The affectionate kitty had a ton of little-boy petting and we'd had a delicious meal. It was a nice evening, even with the kids in tow. I was relieved.
Not long before we called it a night, Little Dog asked me to take him to use the bathroom. We were heading upstairs when he whispered to me, "It would be kind of nice to have a house like this." Not quite sure what he meant, my mind jumped to the obvious. Clean? Organized? Not in the depths of a major remodel? "What do you like about this house?" I asked, expecting a rebuke of my housekeeping skills or a request for less domestic chaos in general. "It's full of kitties!" he said, his voice filled with awe. Well, at least he wasn't asking me to clean.
Unfortunately we are not in a position to have a cat. Our dogs are overly interested in cats, and while I may be able to work around that, my father is severely allergic to kitties. Since I like to have him visit frequently, a cat in the house is not really an option.
We left not long after, the boys were starting to get sleepy and a tiny bit cranky, but I think my kids were thoroughly charmed by my friend, his wife and their cats. I had the easiest night out I'd had in a long while and the kids had been golden. Phew. I guess I can take them out in public from time to time. That's real progress!