One of the hardest parts of Claire and the dogs not hitting it off right away is that Claire can’t have her friends over. The first weekend, when things were so bad, we feared that she would start to hate coming to our house and could not even fathom how we would handle little girls in twos and threes with these large, neurotic dogs. This weekend, though, things were almost normal! Cooper just enjoyed his first storytime at the foot of Claire’s bed. Even Huck managed to compose himself and behave like a gentleman, going into Claire’s room this morning to say hello and get a couple of pats on the head.
We are not so cocky as to believe we’re completely out of the woods, but it’s a good start. Unfortunately, we’re still not ready to introduce other kids – I have a kid in mind, when we’re ready, one of Claire’s boy friends who is a bit more mature – so we have to find alternative things for her to do on the weekends so that she’s not just cooped up with us old fogeys.
I feel incredibly guilty about the fact that Claire can’t feel 100% comfortable in her own home. She’s being so great about it, and has gotten used to stomping around and announcing herself before entering rooms. (I know the dogs can hear her anyway, but it seems to help.) I know she’s gotta be bummed that everyone else can have friends over when she can’t, even though she understands perfectly why.
Today, in lieu of an at-home playdate, we ended up taking Claire and two of her friends to see a movie.
And hold up. Can we talk about the term “playdate” for a second? Is this what our parents used when shipping us off to someone else’s house for a few hours? When I hear the word “playdate” my mind automatically goes to the Diane Keaton movie Baby Boom. You know, the one where the high-powered executive gets custody of her deceased friend’s baby and ends up quitting her job and moving to the country to raise the kid, fall in love, and make organic baby food? “Playdate” sounds like a Franklin Covey planner and a pinstriped suit with shoulder pads. I’m pretty sure, when my mom took me over to my friend Kerri’s house, she just called it “going over to Kerri’s.” Maybe I’m wrong.
Now, I used to try to convince my ex to let me get a French bulldog puppy by explaining that it would only be like having HALF of another dog. That’s not even close to being true, of course, and it’s also not true of seven-year-old girls, even when one of them is much smaller than the others. All three of these girls are great kids, but together they are a giggly, fidgety little cluster of energy.
I’ve gotten pretty comfortable giving Claire instruction. Put away your pajamas. Take your plate to the kitchen. Brush your teeth. When other people’s kids are around, I feel really awkward about it. Granted, this has only happened a handful of times so far, so I haven’t had much practice. But what do you do, say, when someone else’s kid asks for soda when yours only drinks water? What do you do when all three of them want their own candy, even though you feel strongly that one bag is enough to split? How about when one of the kids is continuously kicking the chair in front of her?
For now, my reaction is to pass it completely to Joel. I’m having enough trouble getting used to taking care of one kid, much less three kids. I am perfectly happy to whisper my preference in his ear and let him be the heavy.