by Jocelyn Jane Cox
Welcome to the Chronicles of Parenting by local author, freelance writer, blogger and parent-of-toddler Jocelyn Jane Cox. Read on for advice you never knew you needed and the chuckles you know you really need, tailored to those who live in the Great State of Parenthood.
Come on, make a reservation, hire a babysitter, and GO OUT. You and your spouse have a lot to catch up on. Of course, if having an uninterrupted conversation with the one you love makes you nervous, that’s quite understandable: after all, you’re out of practice. You might not have properly finished a sentence since the day you became a parent. Your mind is in a state of distraction and your ability to communicate with other adults has been seriously compromised. This is why I’m here to provide you with a cheat sheet. Feel free to transcribe these onto index cards, for ease of reference during your meal. (And make sure to print it using a big font so that the text can be seen by romantic candlelight).
- “How are you?” or “How have you been?” This is a great opener – your dining partner can choose to answer this with as much or as little specificity as he or she desires. For example, he may choose to update you on that extremely detailed work situation, his newest orthotics, or his current level of existential angst…and you can feel free to respond in kind.
- “What is your favorite color?” You used to know this; the fact that you’ve forgotten it isn’t cool. Then again, people change, and it’s therefore quite possible your partner has selected a new favorite since the last time you asked, which was approximately seven years ago, on your second date. Listen up: your respective answers could provide critical information for future gift purchases…and may even lead to a fascinating discussion about the rainbow, including the handy mnemonic ‘Roy. G. Biv.’
- “Do we have enough money to afford this delightful meal?” It’s extremely important for couples to communicate regularly about finances. To this end, you may want to bring along a calculator or an abacus, not to mention all receipts from purchases within the last fiscal year. While you’re at it, you might as well just start doing your taxes – when else are you going to have kid-free time to get them started?
- “What ways have you noticed our child reaching or falling short of his full potential and what else can we be doing to encourage him to become his best self?” In order to be adequately prepared for this topic, you may want to quickly read a few dozen books written by childhood development experts and maybe even pick up a degree in psychology. Be ready to cite specific passages from your source material, because when it comes to your offspring, you really don’t want to be “winging it,” right?
- “How is your meal?” The nice thing about this question is that if you don’t have the energy to answer with words, you can simply cut off a piece and share it. If the food is good, you can both savor it. If it isn’t good, you can both at least enjoy the fact that neither of you had to cook it. And if really isn’t good, then you simply can pay the check in a hurry and make use of those last 45 minutes of babysitting by heading over to the supermarket for this week’s food shopping.
Jocelyn Jane Cox is a freelance writer and author. Her 2012 humor book on life in the New York suburbs, The Homeowner’s Guide to Greatness: How to handle natural disasters, design dilemmas and various infestations, is available on Amazon.com. Follow her on Twitter at @JocelynJaneCox.