On Friday night, Hubs and I took a big step forward, which propelled us into the next level of parenting.
I’d LIKE to say that what we accomplished was a progressive step that put us at the front of our parenting game, in which the boy now cleans his bathroom floor every time he’s in there, but I can’t type that and have it be true. I am, it appears, destined to always be the mother of a child who leaves EVERYTHING — from his discarded jeans and dirty socks, to his tube of toothpaste and towel and forgotten Lego bricks — on his bathroom floor whenever he’s in there. Sadly, the boy cannot SEE these things on the floor; he simply navigates his bathroom like he’s playing a competitive game of Twister, and he never steps on anything.
The radical accomplishment that Hubs and I DID achieve this weekend was simply this: We went out for dinner. And the boy did not. Because he was at home. Without an adult on the premises.
Some of you are reading this and shouting out, “Holy monkey business, Batman! We left our kids at home, alone…like…TWENTY-NINE MONTHS AGO! Was that too early??!!” And some of you are saying, “Ah, yes. Here it is in the phone book. The Department of Family Services. If Hubs and Mama think they’re going to get away with this, they’re sadly mistaken, because the boy is not even old enough to shave yet! He can’t be left alone, and on a Friday night, to boot!”
In all honesty, the boy wasn’t completely alone.
Hubs and I joined our friends, Gabe and Jodi, for dinner. We went to the very trendy and very happening pizza parlor in Small Town, and we left our four kids at home together. The boy and Ciara are quickly approaching their eleventh birthdays, and Jodi and I felt that they were ready to take on a little babysitting responsibility.
Which ultimately meant that Ciara was in charge all night, because her maturity level is slightly higher than the boy’s. The boy would still see the idea of soaking a Bounty paper towel in rubbing alcohol and lighting it on fire with a match and throwing it into the kitchen sink as a VERY FUN THING TO DO, while Ciara would contemplate the idea of this and say, “Good grief! DANGER! DANGER! DANGER! And when our friend, Andy the Fireman, arrives because the entire house has burned down, he WILL tell our parents what we were doing.”
The boy, you see, doesn’t think QUITE that far ahead, because his Y chromosome keeps getting in the way of his Advanced Thinking, and it encourages him to Do Dumb Things. Every member of the male tribe suffers from this syndrome.
But yes. With the boy and Ciara in charge of eight-year-old Blaine and two-year-old Leah, we grown-ups went out to eat. We spent three entire hours sitting in a booth at the pizza parlor, laughing like drunk hyenas and listening to Gabe’s official movie review for Fast and Furious #672, in which he proclaimed, “It was poorly done. They kept putting the wrong car noises with the cars. You can’t take an engine THAT big and expect it to have the sound it did.” Hearing him say this completely ruined any chances that I have of venturing off to the theater to see the show, because I’m not sure that I could even stand to see a car but HEAR THE WRONG ENGINE SOUND over the speakers.
Or maybe it’s the small fact that a movie involving cars thrills me like trying to take a hot cookie sheet out of the oven barehanded thrills me.
Our dinner date was a smashing success. The four of us laughed until our sides hurt. We kept expecting a cell phone to ring with a call from Ciara, who would shout out, “The boy and Blaine are using the Bunsen burner,” but it never happened.
And Hubs may have overdosed on Mt. Dew. He has no concept of the dangers high fructose corn syrup offer him.
When we returned to Gabe and Jodi’s house, the kids were fantastically happy, and the boy just grinned and said, “This was the best night of all time, Mom!”
The house was in order. It hadn’t been destroyed. Little Leah was dressed in her jammies. The kids had watched a movie and played a board game together. And they had remembered the neighbor’s phone number, in case of an emergency, which they didn’t have.
(The neighbors were fully aware of the fact that no grown-ups were in the house, and they were at home, ready to pounce if the kids brought out the disco ball and the long strings of Christmas lights as a Hot Tub Rental Company truck showed up in the driveway. The good neighbors were our eyeballs.)
Hubs and I feel like we’ve accomplished a major milestone now.
And then, just before we headed home with our boy in tow, Jodi hauled a tub of salsa made from nothing but habenero peppers out of her fridge and told Hubs, “Here. Try this. It’s HOT.”
Naturally, Hubs loved it. He said that it had good flavor, and that it was close to being a warm salsa. Jodi kept going on and on about how it would take paint off of patio furniture, if you needed to accomplish that chore. I, being the TOTAL ADVENTUROUS TYPE, dipped a lone chip into the salsa and tried it.
And by tried it, I mean that I got the tip of my chip a little wet. I did not scoop up any gunk or chunks on the chip. And, people, listen. You can accomplish the same feeling that this salsa creates by putting a grenade in your mouth and asking someone to pull the pin. With my Wimpy Girl Taste, my lips still managed to go completely numb, and I lost vision in one of my eyes. It was at this point that I gave up my dream of driving the Magic School Bus with my frizzy mane of hair and explaining the finer points of taste buds to the kids, because I was pretty sure that I couldn’t pull this task off without using inappropriate language to express how I felt about losing my tongue in a sulfuric acid spill.
I imagine that it comes as no surprise to you that we currently have a tub of this very salsa sitting in our refrigerator at home now. Although Hubs is marinating his chicken for tonight in the stuff, I plan to use it to take some rust off of a piece of sheet metal.
On Saturday morning, I put some ribs in the slow cooker. I’m pretty sure that I will be able to use my rib recipe when I open my swanky restaurant on Nantucket this summer, because it’s THAT GOOD, people. And really? That’s saying something, because I don’t even like ribs usually.
(It has to do with the bone thing, because I have VERY MAJOR ISSUES with bones hanging out in my meat that more than likely stem from fried chicken on a picnic gone bad in my childhood, and which I’ll probably need therapy for at some point. It’s me who has to leave the premises whenever a recipe calls for a chicken to be de-boned. Hubs gets the privilege of that job, every single time.)
I actually stole this recipe from my cute friend, Sarah, and it uses BONELESS RIBS, which is probably why I love it and why I make it. Hubs loves it because there is also a can of Coke involved in all the simmering. I keep telling Sarah, “You need to enter a barbecue contest with this recipe, because SERIOUSLY! It’s Pure Goodness served on a plate, right next to the corn on the cob!”
And really? I know my Southern belle friend, Bev, is going to say, “Like you Yankees could ever do barbecue right! Genuine barbecue uses homemade sauces, with secret recipes from old plantation houses; Sweet Baby Ray’s Hickory and Brown Sugar sauce in a bottle doesn’t even count! I don’t care if it DOES come in a GLASS jar, instead of a country-bumpkin-style plastic squeeze top. It’s just all wrong, as far as barbecue sauces go! And if you don’t put some coleslaw on your pulled pork sandwiches, you haven’t done it right, and you haven’t even begun to live.”
Don’t pay much attention to Bev, people. She eats collard greens and pickled okra, too, and God just intended THOSE plants to be weeds.
Our house smelled like GENUINE BARBECUE straight out of the movie Fried Green Tomatoes all morning, and then Hubs went in to work, because Hubs works in IT, and Major Small Town Corporation had some computer issues. I think the throculator went out of the cold compression bulb or something. Being married to an IT guy is exactly like being married to a doctor, minus the salary and the Cadillac Escalade and the lawn guy that mows for you every fourth day and the vacation house in Fiji. Hubs and his buddy, Tyler, went into Major Small Town Corporation at 1:00 on Saturday afternoon, and their departing words were, “This won’t take long.”
For the record, whenever Hubs and Tyler announce, “This won’t take long,” you can translate that as, “We’re taking a case of Mt. Dew and eighteen cans of Rock Star in with us, and we’ll see you again sometime next Friday.”
Or at 4:00 on Sunday morning, whichever comes first.
Needless to say, Hubs missed the barbecue ribs and corn on the cob and Wonder Bread smeared with I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Butter, and the boy and I had Family Movie Night as a duo instead of as our regular trio.
We watched The Greatest Game Every Played, which is Walt Disney’s flick on the poor-caddy-turned-US-Open-winner, Francis Ouimet. The movie was good, but as I watched it, I kept thinking, “This holds no action for a kid. There’s no tomb robberies or light saber battles or pirates throwing people overboard. It’s just golf and intense political scenes about how the poorer class people were mocked for ever thinking that they had any business setting foot in a 1913 exclusive golf club.”
As it turned out, the boy PLUM LOVED IT! Afterward he sighed and said, “Mom, that show was GREAT! And someday I think I’m going to play golf in the US Open!” Naturally, I was just fine with this, because the purse for the US Open translates into MORE MONEY THAN I CURRENTLY HAVE, and, when the boy wins it, I will remind him that I bought Pop Tarts for him throughout his entire life and that Mama wants a new Louis Vuitton handbag. And an Escalade.
The boy also attended one of his classmate’s birthday parties on Saturday, and, when he arrived home, he announced, “That was THE BEST party of all time!” Apparently, all of the boy’s best buddies showed up at the party, and the big hit was a bar top covered with bottles of various potions, which the kids could mix together to form their own drinks.
Exactly like going to the 7-Eleven and creating your own Suicide Drink by mixing all the sodas together in the Big Gulp cup.
The small fact that Isabella (the birthday girl) had asked everyone to come to her party in costume probably added to the fun factor for the boy, because if there’s anything we love as much as Jack Sparrow, it’s dressing up in a cape and carrying a magic wand with us. Carter and Quinn and Bek feel the same way, so everyone was in high spirits, showing off their costumes, IN THE MIDDLE OF MAY for crying out loud, to one another.
And on Sunday, people, we laid low.
Not that anyone cares.
Not that anyone is even still reading this post at this point, because of OH MY WORD! LONG-WINDED AND VERY BORING!
Because Hubs had come home at 4:00 in the morning with a serious case of the munchies, and then proceeded to numb his tongue with the Dragon’s Breath salsa, he went to bed with a gut ache.
And then he slept all day, which I suppose a fellow is entitled to do, when he has worked that many hours on a Saturday.
The boy played catch with the cute neighbor boy for most of the afternoon, after we’d gotten back home from church, while I read a book for my book club.
For the record, we’re reading Tina Fey’s autobiography, Bossypants. We’re a very mature book club. Clearly.
And that people, a full day late, is how we spent our weekend, and I managed to get it all out in less than two thousand words.