Follow along as Ottawa-based sports radio host Ian Mendes gets candid about raising daughters, Elissa and Lily, with his wife, Sonia.
Last week, we pulled off one of the greatest parenting crimes.
On Friday night, we arranged for both of our girls to have sleepovers on the same night—at other people’s houses.
I calculated the odds of this happening again and have come to the conclusion that this was our personal Halley’s Comet. A once-in-a-lifetime gift from the parenting gods who have done nothing but destroy our lives over the years with things like The Backyardigans and Rainbow Loom.
All week long I was convinced this wasn’t going to work. It was like we were pulling a bank heist and I was thinking about all the worst case scenarios.
“Somebody is going to get the flu at the last minute. Seriously, it feels like nobody has thrown up for a long, long time.”
“I’ll bet we get a phone call five minutes after we drop off Lily and find out that she’s too scared to sleep over.”
“With our luck, we are going to get hit with a massive snowstorm and be stuck inside our house.”
Alas, we dropped the kids off on Friday night to their friends’ houses with no issues. And as we pulled away from the house, the reality was starting to sink in: we were free.
We kept waiting for a parenting police car to pull us over on the side of the road.
“Evening folks, I believe these belong to you.”
The officer would hand us back our two kids, a handful of Barbie dolls and a Wii remote. And then instead of going out to a trendy Thai restaurant we would be automatically re-routed to the nearest Swiss Chalet.
But none of these nightmare scenarios ever unfolded. For the first time since I left home for university, I felt a sense of freedom. This was kind of like Frosh Week all over again, where I didn’t have to answer to anybody. (Author’s note: A significant amount of my time at Frosh Week was spent playing NHL ’94).
We pulled up close to the Thai restaurant and for a change we didn’t have a reservation. When you hire a babysitter, you are on the clock and your evening is meticulously planned because nobody wants to pay the sitter an extra fraction of an hour. “We are 15 minutes behind schedule. There is no time for gelato,” is a phrase often uttered when we have a babysitter.
On this night, however, we rolled the dice and just walked into the restaurant. It was packed and they told us it would be about a 20-minute wait. My gut reaction was to panic, as if we were on borrowed time. “Forget this place. We don’t have this kind of time to spare. Let’s just grab a shawarma and start heading home.”
And then I had to remember that we had no time limit. We could even start eating dinner at 9 p.m. like we were 22 years old.
So we calmly put our names down at the restaurant and went for a leisurely stroll around the neighbourhood to have a drink. We sat down at a pub and had a glass of wine, each of us resisting the parental instinct to constantly check the time.
My phone started to ring and my initial reaction was, “Oh crap. Why do I have a feeling that Lily has thrown up?”
Instead, it was the restaurant from down the street telling us that our table was ready. Everything was coming together so perfectly.
We ate an amazing Thai dinner and resisted the urge to talk about the kids too much. Nothing kills the mood at a romantic dinner like someone saying, “Did you sign the permission slip for the field trip?”
After the meal wrapped up, we had nothing on the agenda. We could catch a late movie, but I don’t think we had seen a movie that started after 10 p.m. since the late-1990s. We could also hit a club, but we figured we would be laughed out of the room when we requested something from Chumbawamba.
So we opted just to go back to our house.
It was a bit of a strange feeling walking into an empty house and not hearing a sound. The kids’ bedroom doors were open and their beds were made up perfectly. I felt a twinge of sadness, but that quickly disappeared when I realized that we wouldn’t have to wake up early in the morning. There will be plenty of time to lament "empty nest" syndrome down the road, but this was a night to celebrate the fact that nobody would be bursting into our room at 6:30 a.m.
As we went into our bedroom, we realized we had just completed the most magical evening. And I know a lot of people will be wondering if we capped off the night with a memorable evening in the bedroom.
But when you are pulling off the perfect crime, you never want to leave any evidence—so don’t expect any baby announcements from us in nine months.