Revelation: “So this is why you go to Mom’s Nights Out?”

Setting: Ikea. The cafeteria. God, I love the Swedish, bless their socialist-capitalist little hearts. They think of everything, including giving urban mothers in crappy climates the ultimate “come let your children run wild in our giant show room” indoor play area. (Smalland? We don’t go to Smalland. We test all the beds. And couches. And chairs. And shelving units. “Cinder! Get Ender out of the cupboard! I don’t care if he likes it; do not lock him in the pantry!”) Best of all: the lunch. Where else can I feed three kids and self for $10 for lunch? Although, with Cinder ordering two and sometimes three kids meals’ these days, the price tag’s inching up. Still… Ikea. Love it.

And here we are. For lunch and a mission: reading lights for the kids room, a birthday present for Flora’s friend (I’m all about efficiency shopping. The lil’ girl’s lucky today was Ikea day and not tire change day. What little girl wouldn’t love a socket wrench for her seventh birthday?).

The plan: Eat. Shop. Leave, before Ender-the-toddler breaks something.

The marvellous gift from the universe: Ender falls asleep in the car.

The new plan: Shop. Pay for everything. Look at breakable stuff at leisure. Go eat as soon as Ender wakes up.

The revised plan: Shop. Eat. Because the older children are starving (The first thing you learn as a parent: Life with hungry children is not worth living. Especially in public spaces.) Feed Ender during round 2 when he wakes up.

So there we are. Ender asleep in the stroller. Cinder eating fish and chips, Flora devouring meatballs. Me, piggish, with the shrimp AND the salmon plate. Ender asleep… oh, I already mentioned that. Ender asleep. Ah.

Flora: Wow. This is such a nice, peaceful meal.

And she looks around the table as if it pinpoint the difference. Indeed, it is so peaceful. Eating with a 10-year-old and a seven-and-a-half year-old, really, is pretty much the same as eating with adults. Right? They move the food from their plate to their mouths without too many detours. They don’t throw the food. They don’t choose the middle of the meal as the time that they need to scale your back and head for a better view. They don’t pee their pants five minutes in and require an emergency bathroom run. They don’t throw the food–oh, I already mentioned that, didn’t I?

Flora sighs with contentment and then, the penny drops. She looks at sleeping Ender. She looks at me.

Flora: Oh-my-god. This is why you go to Mom’s Nights Out, isn’t it?

Jane: Yup.

Actually, I go to Mom’s Nights Out to have more sex (see The Authoritative New Parents’ Guide to Sex After Children). But that’s a conversation I’m not planning on having with Flora just yet…

MEATBALLS! How typical! Considering we are, uh...

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