Three things to talk about besides your kids
Adam and I went out to dinner with some friends recently. And when I say “with some friends,” I don’t mean Lucy and her stuffed pig.
I mean actual friends, like the kind we used to have before we traded them in for a baby. To add even more to the retro flavor of this evening, none of these people had children. Come to think of it, none of them even had pets.
This meant Adam and I were the only ones there with cat hair on our pants and dried goldfish cracker slurry on our shoulders. How do these poor people stay warm and fed without loose fur and already-chewed cookies?
The more I thought about it, the sorrier I felt for my beautiful friends with their fresh haircuts, their clean clothes and their Saran-wrap tight eyelids, which looked as though they hadn’t ever enjoyed the sensation of being pried open at 4 a.m. by the hands of a 15-month-old.
These people spend their days working as lawyers, producers and technology wizards. Where’s the glamour, the prestige? I didn’t have the heart to rub my lifestyle in their faces, so I decided not to talk about how good Lucy and I are getting at clipping her toenails and putting ointment in her creases.
Instead, I focused my conversational efforts on topics other than Lucy altogether.
Later, it occurred to me that, as a public service to parents, I would share my tips on how to have an adult discussion without talking about your children.
The first tip is pretty simple: Don’t start any sentence with “Lucy did the cutest thing,” “You should have seen Lucy yesterday,” or for that matter, even the word, “Lucy.” And don’t use your own child’s name to start a sentence, either.
The key is to find a topic completely unrelated to your child. For example:
1) Talk about something you read. Attached is a sample script you may use.
Oh, I was reading The New Yorker last night. It’s such a wonderful magazine; I can’t get enough of their 20,000-word articles. If only it came in French! Anyhoo, I read the most fascinating story about a certain type of technology that is so revolutionary, experts believe it rivals the wonders of the microchip. Before I read this article, I never knew so much about the disposable diaper. Did you know what diaper scientists call “tinkling”? They call it an insult! Really! (Pause to chuckle and wipe tears of mirth from eyes). If they want to be insulted, I should let them try to change Lucy. She insults my pants all the time!
Oops. That one didn’t go as well as I had hoped. I was doing fine up until the topic of urination came up. And frankly, this happens so often at dinner parties that I can’t recommend this approach, after all. Instead, try this:
2) Talk about something you ate. Feel free to adapt this script for your own use.
[Insert dining partner name here] and I just tried the most charming little restaurant. They serve only food that starts with the letter C. It’s called C-food. Get it? (Pause to raise eyebrows and smile winningly.) The best part is Lucy really likes everything that starts with C, especially cereal and carrots, though they are a choking hazard. Once, she choked at another restaurant and I had to whip her out of the high chair and flip her upside down to get her breathing again. She was fine, although she did vomit on my brother.
Whoops, I seem to have slipped again. On second thought, no one wants to hear about what you ate, no one except your mother. What you really should do is this:
3) Ask someone about their weekend plans. People love it when you take an interest in them. I suggest raising the topic thus:
So, what big adventure do you and [insert significant other’s name here] have planned this weekend? Oh? A last-minute trip to Mexico! That sounds fantastic. Adam and I went there on our honeymoon. It was so nice. (Pause to hear question.) What? No, we haven’t taken any other big trips since then. We thought about going to Morocco, but then decided we’d wait until we could better afford it. But then I got pregnant. Yeah, we haven’t traveled much since Lucy was born, although we do have a big trip to Ohio planned for the holidays. I hope she doesn’t poop on the plane like last time. It was ... wait ... where are you going?
As you can see, with conversational skills like mine, you’re sure to be included in all sorts of fun events with your hip, beautiful, exciting and child-free friends.
But of course, attending them would mean someone else would give your child the last kiss of the night before tucking into bed – someone who might not know how much she hates blankets.
The best party in the world can’t compare to how much I love watching her drift off to sleep in her tiny bed. And, much as I like them, the most glamorous people I know don’t make me smile nearly so quickly when I close my eyes and conjure their faces.There’s a lot to be said for life without children. But once you’ve had them, who can really talk about anything else?