A recent humor piece in the New Yorker offered a series of questions to ask yourself to help decide if you’re actually ready to be friends with someone with a kid. It is absolutely correct on most counts: Being friends with someone who has a kid will require seeing the kid, talking to it, hearing about it, pretending to care about it, and being roped into kid-related events you’ll also have to pretend to care about, but will emphatically not.
This is because people with children have an obnoxiously smug self-absorption that is rivaled only, and only barely, by the obnoxiously smug self-absorption of a child-free person. In other words, I am as obsessed with my kid as you are with yourself. That would seem to pit us against each other, but instead we should focus on the win-win situation the child-having and child-free offer each other.
There are, in fact, numerous benefits to singletons being friends with someone with a child that no one seems to have noticed. You are entertaining to us, if for no other reason than you offer novel respite from the monotony of early child-rearing. And we, because we have to spend our waking energy caring about something other than the latest meme, are far more “together” people than you.
Don’t take offense — take advantage.
“Alana swears a lot,” my kid said after meeting MEL’s Deputy Editor Alana Levinson. She sure does, but later my kid and I laughed about it while using her as an example of time and place rules for profanity. So yes, you’ll have to save the d*** jokes for after hours, but after hours for a parent is, like, after 8 p.m. It’ll keep. Moreover, you’ll learn appropriate words for body parts, like, instead of d***, PENIS. Oh fewf, my penis hurts! you’ll learn to say instead of, F#&!, my d*** hurts! Then you’ll tell others like some quaint character out of an old black-and-white TV show.
Multitasking and Feigned Enthusiasm
While hanging out with my kid, you’ll learn to not only talk about yourself while being frequently interrupted with questions and bids for attention by that kid, as well as insistence that you stop everything and watch her do this one cool magic trick real quick right this second. The magic trick will be her pretending that she flipped in front of you so fast you didn’t notice. It won’t be funny, but you’ll learn how to conjure believable wonderment that sounds like we’re at Cirque du Soleil, a technique you’ll use throughout your life to convince people to hang out with you.
I’ll listen, with amazement and enthusiasm, because I just played six rounds of Clue back to back, about how you took your last Tinder date to a party where you overheard her having sex with another dude in the bathroom. (So it was Mrs. Scarlett, in the bathroom, with the lead pipe?) All I ask is that when I say my kid is precocious, you say something like, “Was just about to say so myself!”
I will not ask you to watch my child for more than five seconds because I am not technically sure you can keep my child alive that long. Whatever thing I promised I would do with you this weekend I will flake on, which is doing you a favor because I was going to leave by 9:30 p.m. anyway without saying goodbye. In the rare instances I do join you on a weekend night, I will definitely overdo it as if I just learned to party, which will make you feel better about however much you drink.
Free Food That Is Actually Good
My kid won’t eat out because she can’t anything that “feels spicy,” however, I will have things like sliced cucumbers sprinkled with sea salt and some fruit and salami on hand at every visit without you even having to ask. Or those seed crackers that are totally okay for people who are gluten-free, paired with some real goat cheese if you’re lactose intolerant.
Free Weekday Booze
Since I am not legally allowed to leave my home after 7:30 p.m. during weekdays, I will always have a variety of booze at my house if you are able to drink it while also remaining fairly quiet. You will never have to “get me back,” because I am never, ever free to come to your house during the week.
Unlike your place, my bathroom always has toilet paper and hand soap, the good kind that smells like geraniums, and it isn’t perennially half a squirt from empty, nor is it crusted with six years of soap scum that still holds the stray hairs of two roommates ago. The hand towel is not my one shower towel I wash monthly. There’s a bathtub puzzle map of the United States scattered all over the bathroom, but you don’t know exactly where Montana is either.
I am available as early as 6:15 a.m. for morning text consultations to review your poor decisions after a wild night out. This includes Saturdays.
Our household games are identical to the games you’d play while getting drunk: making food shapes out of modeling foam, working with Silly Putty and chucking tennis balls into an empty laundry basket.
Supervising a child’s burgeoning immune system means I can not only diagnose your rash or cold with astonishing medical accuracy, but I will have exactly the salve or soup for it, while casually warning you about the latest study on antibiotics and their effect on gut bacteria.
Mutual Smug Superiority
Finally, together we can live vicariously through each other’s successes and failures, knowing that even though we could both do the other person’s life better, that there are objectively great and terrible things about breeding and not breeding. You will see how much better you’d be at drawing the line at six jelly beans with a child; It’s never been more clear to me that I could never date a woman who wears feather boas ironically, or love a man who still quotes Napoleon Dynamite.
It’s totally okay that you do, though! Not my life! So let’s get together, as dear old friends, and drink to that. But make it quick; I have an early morning.