In the days of Disco Break and Saturday Night Fever, it felt like our parents partied all the time. Every weekend my sisters and I would watch Hee-Haw or The Love Boat while my mom put on a chiffon skirt and purple sequin halter top and my dad shaved and dabbed on Aqua-Velva. Then the tottering blue-haired babysitter would arrive, and my parents would be off. For a while they went to The Tango, a disco at the top of a new building near Joy Young’s, the Chinese restaurant.
(That building is now the office where Bill and I work. Sometimes when I get off the elevator I see a disco ball and hear “I Will Survive” but that’s just my mind playing tricks on me.)
Other nights my parents would host grownup parties. My mom would fix Sausage Pinwheels, and olives embedded in a bisquick batter and baked, and my favorite fancy appetizer, water chestnuts rolled in bacon, secured with a toothpick and run under the broiler. The Glamores come by their bacon addiction honestly. We’d get to eat a couple before we were banished upstairs for the remainder of the night.
My mom would set out ashtrays throughout the house, and my dad got the bar ready. Everyone drank hard liquor, and I was most fascinated by the Mai-Tai’s, which they created by mixing a white powder with rum and ice and adding a maraschino cherry. When my mom wasn’t around Aunt Su and I would steal a packet of Mai-Tai mix and suck the sour, fruity powder off our fingers.
My parents went on vacations several times a year without us as well. My dad would take my mom along on medical convention trips, or vacations with other couples, and we’d stay home with the maid, Ozella.
The way we raise our children is very different.
I was thinking about all this a couple of days ago. Porter and Drew have guitar lessons in a building across from the football field where the grade-schoolers play their games during the week. In the break between their lessons, I walk up and down the sidelines and chat with my friends watching their players.
Inevitably, someone will say to me, “I haven’t seen you in ages!”
And I say, “Well, unless you’ve been at Publix, riding in my van, or sitting on the counter in my kitchen, I’d be hard to find.”
And so a friend and I started talking about where we have been, and the answer is that we’ve been hanging out with our kids.
What I’m talking about is very different from helicopter parenting. We’re not letting the boys call the shots; in fact, we’ve told them there will be no winter sports so we can have more time together during the week as a family and go visit Bill’s parents in Auburn on the weekends.
Our decision has been driven by the realization that now that the boys are 9,9 and almost 12, they are enormously entertaining people to spend time with. Our adventures in New York and Portugal have been extreme examples. (Drew is still trying to order barnacles at every restaurant we’ve been to since the trip, with no luck.) Steaming mussels in wine with garlic and onions was equally exciting last night.
I’m sure that the Doorknob/Safety game will be the talk of rehearsal dinners to come. My Lord, I’m talking about weddings now. Cue Seasons in the Sun stat!
But you see, the Finn, Porter and Drew of yesterday are hard to remember. People say time flies but when you look at pictures like this
and compare them to this
college and the empty nest don’t seem far off.
My medical history and the sudden loss of my mom might have contributed to our family’s carpe diem philosophy, but I don’t think they’re solely responsible. As I look around, I see more of our friends doing the same– families gathering with kids to watch the football game and cook out or head to the lake. The family hibernation phenomenon seems to me to be a generational trend, with families with similar interests (and styles of discipline) forming social communes to head to the BMX track or Peru.
So what do you think– is it generational? Do you see this happening where you live? What do you do with your family and friends?
Two Years Ago in My Tiny Kingdom: Tub Talk