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Next generation of party talk - Anna Rosenblum Palmer
Leo asks me for the rundown of our superbowl party. Both because we used to host huge all inclusive events at the old house, and because theoretically he wants everyone to come over until they actually arrive and he has to share his stuff he seems surprised that Zoe isn’t coming. He asks three times. Is Zoe coming? Not this time. Why not? Um…she wasn’t invited. Why not? This is a party of friends we met through Dada’s work…and a few neighborhood families. I am listing Steve’s work friends, folks we used to see frequently that due to the transition from 20s to 30s all moved further from town and started having babies and met other grown ups to hang out with, that we only see twice a year now. The natural evolution of friendships. As I list them I start with adults and move onto their kids and am impressed by Leo’s recall. When I name the oldest child in a family he goes on to list the sibling(s) and add some sort of detail. After a few families he is stumped by a childless couple. “I can’t remember their kids?” He asks as a question. “They don’t have kids.” I answer. “Are they sad?” “I really don’t think so.” I tell him. “Do they not like kids?” “They certainly seem to like kids.” “Were they just too overwhelmed with other things to have kids?” “Not that I know of, I think this is a choice many people make, but you don’t know them because most of our friends are from your school, which by definition means they have kids.” We both pause. Then I offer this. “You could ask them what factors went into their decision if you like.” “I really don’t think that is appropriate for me to ask them.” The seven year old tells me. “You are probably right. And certainly not at a party.” There it is. Until he reminds me I DON’T think about the inappropriateness of that question. For me, almost everything is an open book. Depression, religion, politics, money. I appreciate wide open doors and to opportunity to think through things by talking about them. At an age where many people are teaching their children to call grown ups by their last names I am encouraging my first grader to publicly question major life choices. Removed a minute from our conversation I recognize the error in my judgement. Luckily I have Steve, and evidently the kids, who somehow have learned a bit more about their place in the world than I have. It didn’t take Leo a minute to know that my suggestion was not alright. I am telling this story to help myself learn from it. I get to choose what I share, and if I want to tell all I can and face the consequences. But raising my kids to think that every topic is on the table is not doing anyone a service, least of all them. My style ...