Their house was immaculate. Their children were well behaved. Their house plants were still alive and their floor lamps had not been toppled. They only had one baby gate blocking their flight of stairs and not a single bathroom door was closed. There were no safety latches on their cabinets and their CD's were in plain sight and less than 2-feet off the ground. Did I mention they have an 18-month old?
Within seconds of stepping foot in their house, I realized that their idea of "baby proofing" and my idea of "baby proofing" are vastly different. Suffice to say, this was the worst dinner party of my entire life and I have vowed to not return to our friend's house until our kids are 10. For those that are wondering - this dinner party was even worse than the time my professor from college and his wife came over to our apartment, she got completely drunk, smashed her corn-on-the-cob in to her salmon and called everyone at the table, including Charlie, a bitch.
On the drive home tonight, Charlie and I had a talk. I asked if it was possible that our children were absolute tyrants ... or if their children were abnormal. Three hours later, I'm still completely confused how in the world they can co-exist with an 18-month old AND house plants. And CD's in plain sight less than 2-feet off the ground.
At our house, there are areas where children can play - and areas where they can't. We do not give them free run of the house. That was not the case at our friend's home ... the kids could "explore" where ever they wanted to. While their children left all of the CD's alone and didn't press every single button on the stereo player ... our kids zoomed in on those two objects faster than a moth to a flame. And ... they left ALL their sand in the sandbox. While our kids were flinging sand all over creation ... their children sat quietly in the box sifting sand and building little castles with moats.
This experience begs the question: Are we doing something wrong by restricting what our kids can play with ... at our house?? Should we take down all the baby gates and let them have "at it"?? If we give them this kind of unreigned freedom ... will it make them less likely to destroy absolutely everything that they can get their hands on??
I wonder... (But I'm not entirely willing to take the chance.)
While their children sat and ate their food - our kids threw rice and beans all over the place and decorated their table and walls with guacamole. When they brought out brownies for dessert, our kids were double-fisted with mouths full of chocolate and grabbing for more. Giving Charlie the look of death that clearly says "MUST LEAVE RIGHT NOW" our children promptly laid on the ground and threw temper tantrums.
Our hosts just smiled at us and said "Oh, they are so cute." Yes ... cute kind of like my college professor's drunken wife who slurred her speech and tried to pick a fight with our cat.
Even though our kids aren't yet 2 ... my worst fear is that we are raising brats. At this age - we're not really doing anything to stem their erratic behavior because there is very little we CAN do. There are three of them and they feed off one another, like a storm brewing.
My analogy is a rip tide at the beach. When you're stuck in a rip tide, the best thing to do is conserve your energy and wait until you get spit out so you can swim safely to shore. Or, signal for help. If you struggle against the rip tide too much ... you're likely to drown ... unless
I want to be a relaxed parent ... the kind of parent that doesn't hover over their child and constantly chant "No, No, No, No, No."
I also want to have relaxed kids ... the kind of kids that are not afraid to explore but don't destroy everything that they touch. I also want for them to be obedient and to not throw their food all over the place. But at THIS age ... I wonder if I'm asking too much.
Am I asking too much???
In the meantime we're staying home with our rats and spiders and three toddlers that have arrived at Hurricane Level IV status. Going out is hugely over rated. Especially when it involves having dinner with our friends and their abnormal children.