Last winter Ronald and I had a huge falling out - HUGE.
As a result I wrote a nasty letter that I still consider one of my finest literary endeavors. And then he said sorry. And we made up. And it was all for the greater good.
But I was still wary, you know? He just wasn't someone I wanted to get to know intimately or hang out with on a regular basis.
Until I discovered that a new fast food restaurant located just blocks from my home has a two storey, state-of-the-art playground and climbing gym. And that Graham will happily play there (with other kids!) for hours leaving me to watch him whilst contentedly settled into a cushy seat with my newspaper.
How did I not realize this before?
It was only last week when, despairing of another cold and snowy evening trying to pry Graham away from the television, I ventured there for the first time. When he first stepped into the play area he was nervous, but within minutes was screeching like a banshee and running around like mad trying to keep up with the other kids. Graham barely noticed when I retreated to my newspaper and later he chattered all the way home about his "little buddies."
And so when this past Saturday dawned cold and wet and Rob was sleeping off a night shoot, it only took a few choruses of "But mommy please, all the children are waiting for me!" (for real!) before I relented and made a return trip.
This time he dashed in the door and very nearly into the arms of a girl just a little older than him who hugged him and exclaimed "Oh look! A new friend for me!"
And once again I settled with my paper onto a stool, this time beside a stocky, friendly-faced man with a thick Hungarian accent who I soon learned was the father of Graham's new girlfriend.
"Thank God for McDonald's, eh? We have no other child at home. Where else can she meet kids and run around and play like this on a Saturday in the winter?"
I couldn't think of anywhere else.
So I sipped my coffee and nodded in agreement. And before long we got to chatting he and I, about raising kids, about our own childhoods, about parenting here as opposed to in Europe and about our similar fears for our only children and how important we felt it was for them to socialize with others.
And we sat like this for over two hours talking and watching our children and laughing when they alternately popped out for quick bites to eat and hugs and breathless recaps of the games they were playing.
Sure I felt like a hypocrite, or worse, a cliche, relinquishing my cool, to say nothing of my cherished objections to mass marketed cheeseburgers and play areas, for a chance to read my paper and drink my coffee in peace. Apparently I am just like all the moms who came before me, to whom I used to secretly or perhaps not-so-secretly assume myself vastly superior.
But I don't care.
I'll probably take Graham back again this weekend: he loves it there and, God help me, I kinda do too.
I can't explain exactly why, but I feel inexplicably that last Saturday was exactly what this overextended, harried, career woman needed: to sit for hours in a fast food restaurant, sip coffee and chat with an amicable stranger with whom I have nothing and yet everything in common.