FREE PASS – the gift that keeps on giving — By Laura Houston
If you are a frustrated, tired, or exhausted parent, do this: get yourself a little business-sized card and write on the front: FREE PASS. Laminate if necessary. Then use it to remove yourself from stressful, stupid situations with strangers, husbands, your kids and other human beings in general.
Example: I was playing in the sandbox in Central Park with my boys. Another mother spoke on the phone while her twin daughters poured sand in each other’s hair. Her twins had the best sandbox toys in Manhattan and every other kid in the park wanted to play with them, too. So while the mom jabbered, she also shooed other kids away with her feet – often coming close to kicking them.
It was like watching “The Night of the Zombies” as seven or eight kids tottered back and forth, arms extended, glazed eyes, trying to get passed the mother’s gauntlet.
Finally she shoved one of the zombies hard enough to send him crying to his mother.
This is usually the part in the story where I get really mad and say something – usually something not so nice. Usually in a voice that carries. And there you have it: another playground confrontation.
But instead, I whipped out my FREE PASS.
“Let’s go,” I told Lyle and Wyatt.
As I left, I heard phone mom arguing with one of the zombie’s mothers. Let someone else handle it. FREE PASS. We went to another sandbox, and had a relatively nice time.
The FREE PASS also comes in very handy on Saturday afternoons. This is when I am topped off with annoyance at my husband. We manage the boys very differently. As we work as a team to handle naps, feeding, fits, fights and other toddler maladies, he flip flops from saying, “Tell me what to do,” to “Don’t tell me what to do,” and back again as things go from bad to worse.
Yes. By Sunday morning my tongue is but a chewed stub.
So last Saturday evening when the boys hadn’t eaten in five hours because my husband forgot that kids are not like dogs that only need to eat twice a day, and the little guys were bright red and sticky from bawling, I whipped out my FREE PASS.
“What’s this?” I said. “A snack? Who wants a snack?”
And I there I am at the baby gate passing out goldfish instead of advice. I even open a bottle of beer for the husband who is feeling dejected. A marital spat was thwarted, and we had a relatively nice evening.
I used my FREE PASS last week to get out a playdate with a woman I don’t like. I gave myself a FREE PASS to be 20 minutes late to art class. I gave myself a FREE PASS when I didn’t feel like cleaning or doing laundry all day.
Unfortunately, I also used it to thwart a workout I needed and to go off my healthy eating routine.
But I don’t care. I may abuse my FREE PASS once in a while, but over all, I think I’m gonna keep this thing. And I know what I’m giving for Christmas this year.