Dating when you have children is like having an overprotective older brother. A friend of mine had her son (aged 9) stare down a man at the pool for daring to look at his mom. I could see the writing on the wall with my son. He had a significant laundry list of “musts” for a potential step-dad.
The top three items on my son’s list were that the man play basketball, be independently wealthy, and have children, hopefully a boy my son’s age. My daughter’s list included the idea that a potential mate not have children.
As a consequence, when my kids were younger, I never let them know I was dating. They’d get a bonus trip to Parents Night Out, and think it was all for their enjoyment, so I could “sneak out” on a date.
The older they get, however, the harder it is to “sneak out.” Surprisingly, many men embrace the midday while-the-kids-are-in-school date because it’s low pressure. Equally surprising are how many times my children bought the lie that I was meeting friends for coffee. How much coffee do they think I drink?
But no matter how many times you meet for coffee or a late lunch, sooner or later you find yourself with the dreaded Saturday night date. Once you have kids, Saturday night requires some logistical maneuvers.
At 13 and 15, the kids are too old for Parents Night Out. They have to be fed, and possibly bribed to behave (pizza acts as both food and bribe). Plus there’s the fact that I haven’t told them I’m dating again.
My daughter figured things out pretty quickly, and her only concern was that I still have time for her. That’s an easy thing to promise. My son, however, was a different challenge. He’s protective in the extreme and has been known to get abrasive and verbally abusive to boys who get too close to my daughter (a habit I may or may not encourage). What would he think about me dating?
“So,” I say across the kitchen as I put away the dishes. “I have a date tonight.”
The third degree begins: what does he do, how many kids does he have, does he have pets, how did we meet. This inquisition continues long after the dishes are put away and the dishwasher reloaded. I answer them all and lean against the counter facing my son.
“That’s fine,” he finally says, “as long as he treats you right.”
Aw, how can I not love this kid? But before I get too happy, my son wags his finger at me. “But I get to meet him after three dates.”
I smile and think to myself, not going to happen. My friend Dan’s rule is that he has to be in a monogamous relationship for six months before he introduces a love interest to his daughter. I’m not sure I’d go with six months, but three dates is too soon. I’m sure there’s a happy middle ground.
Funny story. During the Mercury Retrograde Incident in September 2016, Cindy's original blog disappeared. Five years, gone in a random act of chaos. Now she gets to repopulate her blog world one post at a time. Join her if you dare. :)