Thirsty Third Thursdays may sound like a happy hour advertising scheme for a bar, but I know it better as TTT. THE WIFE is a loyal and proud member of this distinguished group of ladies. TTT has gathered almost every third Thursday of the month since around 1998, which means they've known each other for about 13 years longer than any of the "real wives" on a Real Housewives episode. The TTT meeting spot varies monthly, but it's usually at someone's home [minus the husband/kid(s)] or a bar/restaurant located somewhat equidistantly for all.
Back in the day pre-marriages and motherhood, TTT nights were often followed by Friday-morning absentee calls to work or adventures possibly inspiring Sex in the City episodes. But nowadays, the ladies are more likely to discuss homeopathic remedies for diaper rash or possibly even order a non-alcoholic drink - GASP - with dinner - at the risk of inviting whispers and murmurs speculating about whether the teetotaler is preggo.
On special occasions other than the third Thursday of the month, the TTT husbands and kids are eligible to participate in group activities and random family adventures. For example, last weekend, many TTT families ventured north to Storyland in New Hampshire. It would be the T family's first amusement park experience.
Nana and Pep volunteered to watch Augey since he is too small for any rides, so THE WIFE and I went back to a 2 v. 1 zone and brought Gigi solo. Easy, right?
Well, our morning got off to a rough start. The GPS took us around Maine or Canada until we got help from a helpful convenience store cashier during her smoke break. Possibly spent from the awful commute out of Boston the day before, Greta was cranky and whining as we finally saw the park entrance beckoning from afar. Naturally, THE WIFE and I started to imitate our daughter's complaining, which only made Greta more annoyed. As we literally pulled into the parking lot, Gigi showed us whose boss and projectile vomitted about a gallon of milk and mostly-chewed Goldfish crackers like a rotating sprinkler head throughout and around the backseat.
We parked as I dropped F-bombs. Horrified, THE WIFE sprinted out of the front seat and grabbed Greta from her car seat. I started working on the back seat while suppressing my gag instinct from the rancid odor. Eventually, I checked on Greta's status. THE WIFE was scrubbing furiously. But upon closer inspection, it wasn't our little girl she was cleaning with a vengeance - it was Greta's shirt with her name on it, the one all of the kids were supposed to be wearing that day.
ME: What are you doing?
WIFE: I'm cleaning her shirt.
ME: You are not making her wear that shirt. It smells like hot stinky cheese.
WIFE: She is NOT missing out on the group kid photo!
ME: That's cruel and unusual.
WIFE: (flashing a death stare)
ME: As long as it's just for the photo, she'll be fine.
And so we passed through the maze of minivans and station wagons with white silhouette stickers of family member caricatures on rear windows that are apparently all the bumper sticker rage these days, entered through the turnstyles, and finally met up with the crew.
It was a blast. Gigi loved the rides, which kinda shocked me because she's such a scaredy cat right now. She especially enjoyed just hanging and playing with the other 17 kids in our crew who were all impressively well-behaved and sweet to each other.
I realized there are three major benefits to group adventures like this with fellow parents:
1) Total lack of worry for an unforeseen meltdown. In the company of single or childless friends, it's kinda difficult to convince them that your kid really is awesome if he/she is sobbing uncontrollably while running around the house naked because they "don't want to wear a diaper." Moments like that are pretty effective birth control, actually. But in the company of fellow parents still in the trenches of tantrums out of nowhere themselves, they hear a kid freak out, turn to see if it's one of theirs, and continue with their conversation as if nothing happened once they see it's someone else's. Safety in numbers, I suppose.
2) A surplus of surrogate parents. All parents have the green light to discipline and supervise as necessary. So, if Gigi tries to walk on the railroad tracks or into the swan boat pond because mom or dad are asleep at the switch, Auntie Jess or Uncle Ryan have a free pass to grab her by whatever body part they can catch to prevent catastrophe. No questions asked. Again, safety in numbers.
3) Collective amusement from humor appropriate only among your contemporaries. For example, one mom was really bent out of shape that Humpty Dumpty had hair. We agreed it was most likely a toupee and concluded that even nursery rhyme characters were not above the difficulties of vanity and aging, which led another dad to conclude that Humpty was in all likelihood wearing a merkin. Great stuff.
By the end of the day, we all managed to avoid any catastrophes at the park. The big hits for Greta were meeting Cinderella in person and driving in the pumpkin carriage to get to the castle, riding in the flying fish, and drinking a juice box. By contrast, she is probably scarred forever by the talking tree that has given her nightmares since.
As for the family truckster, the 80-degree heat and closed windows unsurprisingly did little to improve the scent situation of our back seat. I febreezed excessively that night and fortunately all was forgotten by the next day. As we headed back south towards home, still reveling in our collective buzz from the overall success of the joint family adventure, THE WIFE and I smiled at each other in agreement. "That was fun." "Yeah," I agreed, "we had a great -" and then Greta puked one more time for good measure. As I was saying, great weekend.