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Not a good place for an intervention

We ditched the kids today at my parents’ house. It was already full of cousins — what’s two more? I felt a little guilty, but it was great. I got all my work done, and we went out for a fabulous dinner.

Limoncello is the new incarnation of a restaurant we used to love, Bella Napoli. Same Chef, same waiter, new menu. I would recommend everything about it, except that the building it’s in, a little converted house that is very cozy, seems to attract people who want to have inappropriately intense conversations in intimate public spaces.

This hasn’t always happened to me, but every time my mother has been there it’s happened to her. And it’s not like you can not listen. You’re sitting in what used to be the living room of a very small Santa Cruz bungalow. So you try to talk about anything but what the people at the table next to you are talking about, but it’s really hard to do that. So you fall into an awkward silence, punctuated with your attempts to get things going again.

“So how about them Yankees?”

Tonight the group in question appeared to be a family, three grown children and their mom. The mom and two of the kids were staging some sort of intervention for the other son, who looked very uncomfortable. Soon they were spouting platitudes like they wanted to make sure they still worked. “Man, I just gotta be where I am, you know?” “It’s not that we’re angry with you, we love you and we want the best for you.”

The tension rose, and one by one the kids took time away from the table, marching outside after leaving a zinger behind for the others to mull over. Unfortunately, they left the zingers for us, too. We were pleased that they finally left and we had half a dinner in peace.

Note to self: Limoncello is not a good place for an intervention.

I know a few rare couples who have the ability to go out pretty often without the kids. For various reasons, that hasn’t happened since we had two. The first one was easy — my mom had made the mistake of promising that if I had a child, she’d take care of him whenever I wanted. Heh. We got weekly “date night” and our son formed a strong bond with his grandparents.

Then the second one came along. At first she was a baby (a blessedly easy baby, by the way…so much for a baby’s personality being indicative of what kind of child you’ll get!). But she was still a baby and thus more complicated to leave with people. Then we had two kids and only one paycheck. We still haven’t figured the paycheck thing out, but our two kids are finally becoming manageable again. When I did an article for Growing Up in Santa Cruz on “keeping your love alive,” pretty much everyone said that date night is essential. I sort of cringed when I typed that in. How long has it been since we had regular date night? So this was an achievement of sorts for us.

And instead of romance we got…a family intervention.

I know how young couples, who haven’t talked about children yet, feel when they’re in a restaurant trying to be romantic and “cute” little snotty nosed Johnny keeps interrupting their romance. Oh, yeah, kids, the product of romance. Do we really want to do this?

I also feel for those wonderfully serene older couples who have chosen not to have children. Often, these are perfectly nice people who actually like children; they just chose not to make any themselves. And then they go out for a romantic meal and…

Well, at least they have quiet at home, which isn’t something the rest of us can say!

As we sat there in the discomfort of eavesdropping on someone else’s intervention, I thought about two things: Oh, boy, I hope we never have to do this for one of our kids. And, I wonder if we ever had any of these discussions in public about any of our siblings… Hm…

Anyway, I hope they, and all of us, solve our family difficulties and make it through to something like happiness. The family walked out one by one, jaws set, still fractured, platitudes ineffectively left on the table with the dirty napkins. My husband and I enjoyed our pasta, swapped tastes, and sighed.

Thankfully, for one evening, we weren’t being parents.

Posted in Culture.


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