Date Night Waste Night

I’ve come to the conclusion that parents shouldn’t date – or maybe it’s just me and B. We’re pretty disastrous when it comes to finding ourselves with a few child free hours but last Friday night pips the lot of them. Date Night? More like waste night as our car pulled back up to the house at 10:50pm and we swore next time would be better.

In a way, we pre-empted that the night would slowly take a turn for the worse when the baby, for the first time since she started to sleep through the night (yep, she’s sleeping through but I won’t brag because lord knows that can disappear at any time), decided, nope, sleep was not on the cards and it took longer to get her down than usual.

As she gurgled up at me and made grunting noises which made me winch at the thought of a “dark room, dirty nappy change moment” (because feck! Don’t turn on any lights when it’s bedtime! God forbid we confuse the child and wake her up fully) I could hear arguing from the sitting room. Ah yes, an overtired, hopped up on leftover Halloween sweets, four year old A was in the midst of arguing with Papa Bear. A was defiant. Papa Bear was defiant. Nana was stuck in the middle as the pair battled will against will only for Momma Bear to be eavesdropping and feeling anxiety build in her chest.

Frick frickity frick. Time to defuse the situation.

Oh but I cut the wrong wire! 

A was hotheaded. B was hotheaded. Momma Bears bomb squad skills were lacking and even though I patted myself on the back for avoiding a messy nappy change with the baby, little did I know that the explosion was not in the baby’s room but the sitting room. I attempted to step in the middle but boy was that a mistake.

Rule One

Don’t underestimate how infuriating it is when a four year old copies you. 

I ask gently, “what’s going on?” A immediately jumps in with “Daddy is making me so angry. He’s frustrating me so much.” Oh shit! Those be Momma Bears words! I’m sure of it. Sounds like me alright so clearly the little shit wonder nugget has decided to cleverly and innocuously use my words against me. Papa Bear mutters under his breath because he hears it too. I say his name in an effort to calm his …. frustrations. A copies me and uses my forceful Momma Bear tone that only Momma Bear should use. Frick Frickity Frick. Papa Bears frustration levels tip the scales as he has the two of us looking at him – me almost begging and pleading with my eyes to calm it so we can ease our way out of this situation but he sees judgement and… frustration. A, on the other hand, has a surly look on her face that spells A.N.G.E.R in brightly coloured fridge magnets, because she’s four and anger on a four year old is somewhat amusing.

FYI Nana sits on the sofa, quiet and inwardly stifling a shit tonne of giggles as little miss transports her tiny frame into that of her 34 year old mother. It’s a bloody hilarious sight and Papa Bear momentarily pulls back a laugh amidst the conjecture when he sees his own mother forcefully attempt to hold back the smiles. This is a very serious situation after all. 

Alas my poor attempt to defuse the situation escalates and Papa Bear ends up royally pissed off at Momma Bear for clearly making the matter worse. After all, this was about sweets just before bedtime. It was about Little Miss not listening, overtired or not. It was about Papa Bear feeling as though he was being undermined in the end by Momma Bear.

Eventually, after separating the two from the maddening mess, which was based almost purely on the fact that these two bears are so incredibly alike, the situation was lightened and Little Miss happily cuddled up with Nana. But, of course, Momma and Papa were in the height of it as we said our goodbyes and thanked Nana for the thoughtful gift of a restaurant voucher. We bailed out of the house and whatever tension and anger that was in the sitting room made its way into the car. Arrrggghhhh! For the 30 minute drive to our destination… We fought. Oh boy did we fight. About parenting, about being Mom and being Dad, about how we clash and how it’s impossible to parent sometimes. We fought about not understanding eachother and ironically about not listening. We bickered. We cursed… ok I cursed more than him. We felt like shit was bombed on top of us.

But in the end it was B who defused the situation and we made an agreement to be “Halfway Happy”. We listened and took on board what the other said. We may have argued a little more and felt somewhat pissed off that the night we had been looking forward to was significantly tainted. But we moved on. Moved on to date waste night. Ugghh.

Rule Two

Have a plan. Have a goddamn plan. Actually have two plans. Three. Because something will go wrong.

B’s Mum gave us a restaurant voucher just that afternoon and considering we weren’t too sure what we were going to do that night (and funds were low anyway) we happily parked up the car and strolled the short walk to the restaurant in the chilly night air.

Ah frick frickity frick, the restaurant was booked out. Of course, neither of us even considered that we would need a reservation. It was Friday night after all, but when was the last time we were out on a Friday? Plan B.

Our second thought was to check out the cinema but as that also needs some planning, we couldn’t find a movie that would see us home in time to get enough hours sleep before being awoken at the crack of dawn by the kids. Besides that, a dark room only means sleep to me these days and chances are I’d have snoozed my way through the movie like any Irish modern day Mum! Plan C.

Is there even a plan C? Does anyone ever feck up A and B to get to C? Well this was a quandary indeed, because neither of us could come up with anything. It was now approaching 9pm. Shouldn’t we be heading home shortly?  

In the end, our mutual love of Coffee and David Bowie took over. We armed ourself with a strong takeaway coffee and took to the road. Nestling into the car, B popped on The Rise and Fall of Siggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. As we listened to one of the best albums, the melodic tones of Bowie lulled us back into regular conversation. In a surreal moment, as we drove through the coastal village of Malahide in County Dublin, someone set off a dramatic firework display on the beach which quietly lit up the dark sky while Starman played loud around us.

We drove and drove and drove. The world is so different in the dark on a Friday evening. Not a time we are used to. Since we missed dinner through our own ineptitude, we pulled into Howth and picked up chicken and chips from Beshoffs. Our coffee still somewhat warm.

So maybe it wasn’t so bad afterall.

Once we cleared the air and B cracked his usual one liners which no one can resist laughing at, even if you are “Angry” and “Frustrated”, things picked up. We laughed. We talked. We had full conversations without being interrupted or pulled at. We were there together.

Date night started at 7.45pm and ended at 10.50pm. A lost and gained few hours, somewhat wasted but also not.

We still think we’re due a do-over! Next time we’ll do it right. Frick we better do it right! 

So have I learnt from this learning moment I hear you ask, or maybe that’s my Mum I’m hearing over the internet waves.

  1. Well firstly, there’s no way in hell I’m using the words Anger and Frustrating around A any more because clearly they are somewhat misunderstood and overused to the point of incoherence at this moment in time. Best find a new tactic.
  2. Don’t interfere. Goddammit just don’t interfere! Papa Bear and A are big enough to get through their own arguments. From now on, they’re gonna have to fight it out on their own.
  3.  Dates don’t have to be planned 🙂

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