I’ve mentioned before that Chris and I have been taking things pretty slowly and carefully with our kids and what they’re exposed to, as far as our relationship. And I think it’s gone really well – our kids get along well together, and his kids seem to like me, and my girls adore him.
One of the things that he and I have talked about many times, but hadn’t actually done yet, is having a sleepover when the kids are in the house. On the nights when Chris doesn’t have his kids, sometimes he’ll come over for dinner and hang out until after the girls go to bed, but typically he’ll come over around 9 p.m., after the girls are already asleep, and he leaves to go home long before they wake up in the morning.
Saturday was a little different. We met up with our kids at Pullen Park and let them play together. Chris’s mom was also there, which made me a little nervous, but this is the second time I’ve met her, and she seems to like me as far as I can tell. (Older Southern women can be hard to read. They’re going to act like they like you, no matter what, because that whole Southern Hospitality Gene is fully ingrained in their personalities.)
The kids had a great time, although it was ridiculously hot and sweaty at the park. After a couple of hours, we split up – he took his kids to their mom’s house, and I picked up Jasmine (my girls’ favorite baby-sitter) on our way home.
The plan had been that we’d go back to our respective homes and clean up, and then Chris would pick me up for a date night on Saturday night. I showered and got dressed while the girls hung out with Jasmine (seriously, teenagers are the BEST), and I ordered pizza for them to have while I was out. It was getting kind of late, and Chris hadn’t gotten to my house yet, which was odd.
Then he called and said, “Sooooo, I think we’re having dinner at Bonefish Grill.”
Me: “Ok, that’s fine with me, but why there?”
Him: “Because my car just broke down next to it.”
Yikes. So, instead of him picking me up, I hopped in my car and took off to pick him up. He had managed to get his car into a parking space by coasting downhill into a shopping center. He called his mechanic (who happens to be a friend of his), and he said he’d come out to meet him the next morning to look at the car. But basically he was stranded with me from Saturday night until around 11:00 a.m. on Sunday morning.
And that’s the backstory on how we had our first official sleepover with the kids in the house. He couldn’t leave before they woke up, because his car was dead in a parking lot five miles from my house.
Around 6 a.m. on Sunday morning, Lucy came to get in bed with me, the way she always does. I let her climb in, but I said, “Look, baby, Chris is here too, see?” I didn’t want her to be scared, and she wasn’t, she just looked kind of confused. I scooted into the middle of the bed and pulled her up next to me, and she kept craning her head up to look over me at Chris, like, “Huh. Well this isn’t part of our routine.” Then finally she lay back down and went to sleep for a while.
(Side note just because some people may read this and wonder: everyone was sleeping fully clothed. T-shirts and pajama pants all around. Just in case anyone was worried.)
By 8:30, Catie came into my room too, which woke us all up. She saw Chris was there and was totally unfazed. Lucy was happy by then too, and I turned on the TV in my bedroom for the kids to watch cartoons for a while. They climbed all over us and tickled each other and laughed, and it was a really great little moment there.
Finally, we got out of bed and got dressed, then went out for pancakes, before taking Chris to his car to meet up with his mechanic friend. (It turned out to be a dead alternator. It’s fixed now.)
I love that my girls love him and are totally at ease with him. In fact, on Sunday morning, I fussed at Lucy for something (I don’t even remember what, it just got a, “no ma’am, we don’t do that” from me), and she ran to Chris and buried her face in his neck for comfort. And Catie gives him hugs and kisses whenever she can.
Watching how easily their relationship has developed makes me really happy. He’s great with his own kids, I should’ve known that he’d be equally great with mine.
Later on Sunday, I had this conversation in the car with Catie:
Me: “Hey, Bug, I need a favor. How about we don’t tell Pop-Pop that Chris spent the night?”
Catie: “Ok, but why?”
Me: “Well, Pop-Pop thinks that boys & girls shouldn’t spend the night together unless they’re married.”
Catie: “Why does he think that?”
Me: “You know, babe, Pop-Pop is just old, and there were certain things people believed when he was young that we don’t believe anymore, but he still does, even though it’s stuff that doesn’t matter anymore. Does that make sense?”
Catie: “Is this like how he sometimes says bad things about black people?”
Me: “Yes, exactly like that. We know that’s wrong, and we don’t believe that anymore, but that’s how things were when Pop-Pop was growing up, so he still thinks that way.”
Catie: “That’s silly.”
Me: “Yep, it sure is.”
And then she dropped it, and she hasn’t said a word about the sleepover since then. I know my dad will eventually find out, and I’m sure he’ll flip his lid, because even after two kids, he can’t handle the idea that maybe I’m not a virgin anymore. But as much as I love my dad, he doesn’t get to dictate the rules of my relationship. So, if/when he finds out and gets upset, we’ll deal with it. That’s just life.
But right now? Life is really, really good.