Last night we took the kids out for dinner. We hadn’t done it in a while, and I was feeling quite optimistic about parenting and life in general even though it was Sunday afternoon and I was going on hour 60 of family togetherness.
Dinner, however, was an utter disaster. It isn’t always, but it was last night. I love going out for dinner on Sunday nights in the summer, after we’ve done a full day of hiking. The kids are filthy (they looked like extras from Oliver Twist) but hungry (ditto, I suppose) and they eat quickly and silently. But not this time. Bennett still can’t ski, because his arm needs a few weeks to fully heal, so only Efram and Francie skied yesterday, but even they weren’t all that tired. They all bounced around like rabid molecular particles and I think at some point each of them disappeared under the table for few minutes, baby included, which although embarrassing and filthy, was at least a brief respite from the chaos. When we saw that things were only going to get worse, that our pleas for order were just fueling their disobedience, we asked for the check and quickly parceled up both the food and the children and hurried out of the restaurant, our hoods pulled down over our faces. (Although at this point it makes no sense for me to hide, does it now?)
In the car on the way home once we’d lulled the kids into compliance with some crappy top 20 music, I asked M: “You know, I don’t think six is such a bad number after all. We still do have room for one more in the car.”
“Really,” he said. “You do have an awful sense of timing.”
True enough. Even if I could talk him into more children (I couldn’t) and even if I myself thought I truly wanted another and wasn’t just broody because I hadn’t gotten enough sleep or because I’m wired that way and always will be, I probably don’t need to ask him just after we’ve braved an awful dinner out.
It also probably wasn’t a brilliant time to ask for a dog either. Yup, Miss Smartypants here waited until M was comatose on the living room floor, suffering through the Oscar broadcast and dealing with my various technical requests (televisions continue to dumbfound me), until I said, “Hey, you won’t believe this, but I heard there’s a two year old standard poodle available.” Not surprisingly, that did not work.
I have never had success with the dog request. M didn’t grow up with them and he can’t understand why anyone would want to invest time and money in an animal. In fact, it’s been the easiest way for me to convince him to have another kid. It goes something like this:
Me: “It’s time for another baby.”
M: “Are you kidding? It’s way too early.”
Me: “Ok, I’ll just start looking for a dog then.”
M: “A baby it is!”
(I must also note here, that M correctly points out that each time our baby turns one, right when I am about to get super-broody, I begin to prepare M for another child by coming home with a small animal. Before Efram it was turtles. Before Francie it was a rabbit. Before Fiona there were more turtles and a guinea pig. I skipped the small animal before Sidney and just cried and begged.)
But back to requests, and timing. Here’s the rule I learned: NEVER ASK FOR ANYTHING ON A SUNDAY NIGHT. Weekends with the children are enough to bring out the nastiest, our most boorish and selfish sides. Nobody’s giving anything up on a Sunday night. Here’s when you should really ask for stuff:
1. When a spouse comes back from his/her next business trip. When he/she really misses the kids. And you.
2. Fridays. Everyone is giving on a Friday. (Isn’t Friday’s child loving and giving? Now I know why.) The week is over, and you still harbor an air of optimism and possibility about the weekend. Something left over from pre-child days. Something that sadly, never goes away.
3. Wednesdays. They run a close second to Fridays in terms of optimism. I love Wednesdays.
4. After your spouse has screwed up: forgotten to pick up a child, burned dinner, missed a parent-teacher conference, etc. In short, something you do all the time, but that seems downright negligent and almost abusive when your spouse does.
5. I‘m too much of a lady (read:prudish) to go into details on this one, but I’m sure with a bit of work you’ll all read my mind.
I plan on following these guidelines quite carefully. Watch out world, I’m about to get everything I want.