Last night we had dinner at a friend’s house along with several other couples and their kids, including one family visiting from California and thus occasioning the get-together in the first place. The weeknight scheduling resulted from everyone’s varying degrees of weekend overscheduling, and I have to say that I feel as though we – my own personal nuclear family, the three of us – have really turned a corner, or crested a hill, or some other orienteering metaphor, because we used to completely rule out weeknight get-togethers as altogether impossible. The little guy had to eat at a certain time, and have a bath at a certain time, and go through the whole bedtime ritual after that, and those times were early evening, almost immediately post-work, which left no time for socializing before or during, and then of course once he’s sleeping we’re pretty well tied to the house in which the crib resides. (We’re still getting the hang of the babysitter thing. We’re not averse to it by any means, but we are bad about lining them up and they are hard to find on short notice.) Nowadays, though, the little guy is pretty flexible (which in large but not all-consuming part means his parents have become more flexible) and can eat on the run, skip a bath, start getting ready for bed an hour or two later than usual once in a while, and neither melt down completely en route nor fail to fall asleep after being laid down because being off scheduled has mucked everything up.
Which was especially comforting last night because we had concocted a fairly elaborate transportation strategy for getting through the evening. Since Thursday is one of my wife’s regular days off, she would be heading to the dinner party from home, and I would be coming from work, in the opposite direction, the seemingly obvious end result would be that we would arrive in separate cars. But that always seems silly once it’s time to leave the party, and we’re both headed from the same place to the same place. Plus, the location of the dinner party was not really along the line of my normal commute, which meant I would either drive to work and then drive a different route home-by-way-of-party (but I am extremely averse to driving to work for various reasons) or I would drive to the end of the commuter lines and take the train in like usual, then take the train back to my car and take my car, at rush hour, in an essentially backtracking direction to the get-together. So my wife and I came up with what seemed to us like a superior idea: I would drive to the bus stop in our town in the morning, hop on the bus to the Pentagon, take the shuttle from the Pentagon to my office, survive the workday, then take the Metro to a completely different bus, which is basically the exact same commute I used to undertake every day before we moved in December, including taking the bus to the big Park and Ride center which happens to be in the same town where our friends were hosting dinner. My wife would then pick me up at the Park and Ride, little guy in tow, and we could arrive and leave the get-together in one car. Once we got back to our town, we would just make a quick stop along the way for me to pick up my car. I don’t know if that necessarily qualifies as elegant, but I’d argue it was more attractive than all the other options, at least.
And it all worked out fine until, of course (as I’m sure you’ve seen coming), we were making our way home after dinner, sleepy and well-sated on pizza and ice cream and pie, and I proceeded to drive all the way through town to our house and my wife popped the garage door opener and we beheld two empty spots within and I realized we had forgotten to pick up my car, gah gah gah gah. Even I should have seen that one coming, because we’ve done variations on the whole “commute in, meet my wife somewhere after work, and pick up my car on the way home” thing several times before and the track record for actually remembering the part where we detour over to my car is about 50/50. And maybe as recently as two or three months ago, this would have been doubly full of tooth-gnashing woe, because having no choice but to backtrack to the bypassed parking lot for my vehicle would necessitate further delaying the bedding-down of our fussy little (non-)sleeper.
Except, really, he’s not that fussy anymore and it’s finally sinking in. The little guy was a trooper last night, and didn’t complain or try to escape his carseat once on the way home, even when our house was in sight and we pulled a cul-de-sac U-turn. When we finally got home, he transitioned to sleep mode without even minor drama. Will wonders never cease. It’s a big relief, which of course is just another way of saying that it frees up some mental space for other concerns, like worrying about whether absentmindedness is an inheritable trait.