You’re a parent at a cocktail party. A real-life grown-up party with alcoholic beverages and everything. Your significant other has just left you to go peruse the hors d’oeuvres table and then the fear sets in. You’re left by yourself to talk to complete strangers who are older than the age of 5.
What can you possibly talk to these people about? You need a subject that will help you come across as an expert. Interesting. Witty. Confident.
Freestyle skydiving but only in foreign exotic locales?
Nope. Face it, you’re a parent at a cocktail party. The only thing you know a lot about is kids. It’s a subject you study hands-on daily from 6:30 a.m. when they begin singing the song of their people until the last “shhhhh” you whisper over the baby monitor at night. The sad truth: not everyone wants to know how many teeth little Jimmy has and that Trudy has finally managed to potty by herself although she still calls you in to “do the paperwork.”
There are people who don’t mind the tales of your children’s conquests and will even spend 20 minutes looking at baby photos with you. Who are these people? That’s easy – other parents.
How do you tell who is open to stories about your latest playdate at the science museum where your son asked a pregnant woman how the baby got into her belly? There are five simple ways:
1. Use your sense of smell.
A fancy cologne or perfume is a good indication this person has a much more interesting life than you, especially if what you smell is a little more subtle than the samples in the magazines stacked next to your bed that you haven’t had a chance to read yet. Sniff for a scent lightly applied to a person’s face, neck or wrist as opposed to one layered heavily on their clothing as a way to cover up spit-up or, even worse, bodily fluids.
2. Examine clothing choices.
Pressed? Parents don’t have time to iron — it’s wash and wear, or sometimes we even skip the washing part because that’s why someone invented Fabreze.
Clean? See the above comment.
Fashionable? When was the last time you tried shopping for clothing with two toddlers? Give yourself a point if you made it to the store; two points if you attempted to navigate the dressing room with them; and three points if you actually made it out with a purchase before a meltdown ensued. If you got three points and you actually got a chance to wear the clothing before it went out of style, you’re lying.
Does their clothing match? Every father who has children knows you have about 9.4 seconds to get dressed before you hear: “Dad! He pushed me!” Or, “Dad, I want something to eat!” Or maybe, “Dad, is the kitchen supposed to be flooded?” Because of this, there isn’t always time to put on clothing that goes well with one another. I have no problems leaving the house this way. I see my ensemble as a badge of honor that I’m surviving parenthood.
3. Ask what kind of car they drive.
Someone who has an automobile with only two seats should automatically be excluded from kid talk. If the person says it’s a sedan, before proceeding, excuse yourself to go to the bathroom and Google the car’s safety rating. If it’s rated less than four out of five stars in the NHTSA Database, they do not have children.
If the person mentions a new book he or she is reading, it’s a good sign the person doesn’t have kids because no parent has time to read. The person is also not a parent if he or she mentions getting back from a vacation to somewhere other than a theme park run by a mouse, or contemplating buying a vacation home that would mean the person still has disposable income. Every parent knows you give that up when you have children.
5. Ask them.
If they are and you haven’t figured out it by now, the person is doing a great job of disguising being just as frightened of social situations with adults as you are. Grab a drink with the person and stand in the corner comparing “the longest you went without sleep” stories because this party may not be so bad after all.
If you can’t find another parent, it is possible to talk with people who don’t have children. You’ll even be able to mention your offspring but take it slowly. No stories about poop and sleep schedules. Start with a cute kid story and go from there.
And worse comes to worst, if you ever may be a parent at a cocktail party, first memorize these three things:
- Michael Waltrip holds the Nascar record for the most starts without a win
- The oldest skydiver was a 103-year-old woman from Brazil, and
- K2 is the 2nd highest mountain in the world.