If you have kids and I have kids, do we have to be friends?
Every Tuesday, I've got a date with my kid. A clumsy kid who could trip in his sleep, he goes to a private class where he gets to do things like "work on his vestibular system" (swing on stuff), "develop core strength" (balance and roll around on stuff) and "develop fine and gross motor strength" (hold stuff and learn not to trip over stuff).
Week after week, I see the same parents in the waiting room. The ones hoping to get some work done, but who really use the time to check Facebook. The Dads who pretend to watch their kids while texting a deal point. And the nervous Moms who still, even after a year, can't quite accept that they birthed a kid whose got the core strength of a caterpillar.
Everyone is tolerant of the Mom who brings all three of her kids and the dog, of the kid playing Angry Birds with the volume turned up high and of the baby sibling who will invariably use one waiting parents' leg as a teether while his Mom catches up on her People magazines. There's a code of tolerance. No one wants to be an asshole to someone they'll have to see week after week.
If there's a room full of people who don't want or need to make friends, there is invariably one in the room who wants and needs to make a friend. That person will, without fail, find me. My brain screams, "Do Not Disturb," my face seems to say, "Never too busy to hear just how crazy you are."
And so a few weeks ago, like clockwork, the Mom of the toe-walking 3-year old girl, anxious for someone to talk to, finds me.
"I should get your email or phone number," she tells me. "It'd be great to have someone to talk to about all this stuff."
The last time I wanted to talk to someone about stuff, I went to a therapist, not a stranger in a waiting room whose going to go home and tweet about me.
Back in my dating days, I was never very good at saying no gracefully. Some girls could smoothly date for sport -- quantity over quality -- or decline the invitation without the guy even knowing he'd been turned down. Me, I'd usually sleep with someone, just because it was quicker than explaining why I didn't want to.
And so, I write down my home number, cell, husband's work, husband's cell, my email, my Mother's email, my social security number, my banking info and my ovulation cycle because there's no possible way to say no. At least not comfortably.
And then I receive 15 texts. 8 emails. 2 Facebook pings. One very detailed voicemail message. Two articles about the potential relationship between birth defects and gluten, or sitar music or something. I've gotten four offers for playdates and two suggested G.N.O's (girl's nights outs.) But, with only two girls on the night out, it feels more like a date than a night out.
Adding insult to I don't know how to say no, I've still got to see her every Tuesday. I've still got my regular date, but unfortunately it's with a woman who doesn't need a buddy, she needs a shrink, all because it was easier than explaining why I didn't want to.
So instead of dumping her completely and breaking her heart, I'm doing what any sane person would do. I'm pulling my son out of the class and going somewhere else. It's time we start dating other parents.
Follow Meredith Gordon on Twitter: www.twitter.com/therealbadsandy