Play Date

at 11:35 PM

When my daughter's best friend moved away last summer, I made a pact with her that as long as she behaved during the week we could go to McDonalds. It is a popular Friday destination after school, and I figured it was a great way for her to meet some other kids. What luck that on our first visit Sophie met a girl from her new kindergarten class. The little girl even had a younger brother that was the same age as my son.

Not wanting to seem overanxious, I took a deep breath and tried hard to eat my fries slowly, one at a time while pondering the best way to ask for a phone number so the kids could get together again. If I was a Mom this wouldn't have been such a dilemma. But unfortunately I was a Dad. I needed to keep my cool and avoid sounding like a dirt bag. If Sophie and Lukas lost out on making some new friends just because of me I'd feel terrible.

I've been a stay-at-home father for seven years, and I enjoy it, but certain things never seem to lose their awkwardness: Mommy and Me swim classes, making a pony tail and especially trying to find play dates for the kids.

Luckily, the Mom at McDonalds asked for my number first. I casually wrote down my cell phone and home number. I even tossed in my e-mail too. I then asked if I could have her number.

She explained that she didn't have a number to give me yet because she was in the process of getting a new cell phone. Oh man, I thought, this was like high school all over again! We finished our dinner. The kids played some more, drew pictures for each other on the back of their menus, then it was time to go.

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Later that evening, after my wife came home from work, I told her that we'd met another nice family, they had two kids.  "Was the mom cute?" my wife wanted to know.

Huh? I feigned a sudden loss of hearing, bought some time, and shifted my thinker-upper into fifth gear. I contemplated fibbing and saying that she was ugly, but I decided it was probably better to come clean. But wait a second, why were we even talking about this?

"Babe," I said. "Aren't you missing the point?"

I was wrong. This wasn't like high school all over again. It was exactly the same, only more confusing, and without study hall.

With a Perspective, this is Jonathan Slusher.