My best friend’s husband came to dinner

I have been going to Melissa (and Peter’s) house for supper on Thursday night for about 7 years. At first, I watched Ben while Melissa and Peter took Stephen and Sarah to swimming lessons. When Ben was old enough for swimming lessons, I would meet them at the pool and then we’d had have supper back at their house. Once Reid came along, she joined in. We have benefited from many meals and much good company over the years. For a number of reasons, we eat at Melissa’s at lot more often than they come to our house. At first, it was simply that Ken was volunteering at the museum and I was watching Ben. Logistically it is easier for me to bring one child than for Melissa to bring 3 kids and a husband. Ken still dedicates Thursdays to volunteer work.

This Thursday night, though, Peter came for supper by himself because Melissa and the kids were out of town. Reid was quite excited when I told her that Peter would be coming. She asked about the kids and Melissa but nodded at the explanation of their whereabouts and moved onto the business of the seating arrangements. Reid is generally very concerned about who will sit where at the table.Reid seemed pleased – maybe relieved? – that we wouldn’t need any extra chairs. I was surprised at her comments. I thought she liked it when we got out the folding chairs since she usually lobbies to sit on the black one. When I mentioned it to Peter, he said that he was going to look for more kitchen chairs at his house so that we didn’t need to bring in the dining room chairs. And then Reid’s comments made more sense. At Melissa’s, Reid sometimes needs to rearrange chairs so that she has a “kid’s chair” (not a dining room chair) and so that she is sitting next to Sarah.

We had a lovely visit with Peter over supper and, especially, over an extended dessert and after-dinner tea. I never have trouble talking to him but at his house, he has whatever project he was working on when I arrived, as well as the kids, to distract him and I have Melissa and girl talk to distract me. We talked about nothing of great significance, about children, our jobs, the way you do with a good friend. We didn’t really talk much about Melissa.

The only moment of pronounced silence occurred when Reid returned from the bathroom wearing only her t-shirt and my high-heeled, calf-high boots. Of course, the t-shirt didn’t cover nearly enough and the boots were entirely inappropriate. The moment of stunned silence that we adults shared was broken after long milliseconds by Ken and me both saying, “Get your underwear on!” Peter laughed the laugh of a father whose kids have finally, more or less, learned the lesson of modesty but can still remember when they hadn’t.

The whole experience made me think about advice you read in parenting magazines that suggests setting aside time to interact with each of your children one-on-one. It is, I think, good advice for your friends who you see in couples or groups also. Changing the dynamics of a relationship every once and a while can be good for the relationship over the long term.

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