I was talking about the upcoming pro football season with my co-workers this week — my much younger co-workers — and I mentioned that when my wife and I first got to Kenai a dozen years ago we used to head to the local establishment on Sunday mornings so we could watch our team play. Our team wasn’t good enough for prime time, and the bar had satellite TV and a breakfast buffet.
I mentioned that we did that in the time “Before Kids.”
“’Before Kids’ — is that like B.C. and A.D.?” came the response.
Well, now that you mention it, it is. Most parents can measure the eras of their personal history that way — B.K., before kids, and perhaps A.G., After Graduation, a time when kids are theoretically ready to strike out into the world on their own.
I nostalgically remember the time Before Kids — meeting friends at the bar after work, going fishing whenever I wanted to, walking around the house without having to worry about gashing a foot on a stray Lego piece or plastic Army man.
The two decades or so in between? I’d say that definitely starts with the Dark Ages.
The truth is, I hardly remember those first few years of child rearing. For a while there, we were so sleep-deprived, I don’t know how we made it from day to day. Then there’s a couple of years where you’re changing so many diapers, you couldn’t smell the roses even if you had time to stop and try.
But the kids are getting older now, and I think we’ve entered an Age of Enlightenment. Indeed, we do more now than we ever did in the time Before Kids. We make a point of getting outside as often as possible. We look for interesting activities to try, and we try new things all the time. We visit lots of museums, aquariums and visitor centers. Sometimes, we rush through exhibits much faster than I’d like, and other times, we explore an exhibit at an excruciatingly slow pace, but it’s still enlightenment, right? Next month, we’ll visit a Revolutionary War re-enactment when we travel to New England to visit my family — something we never would’ve done Before Kids.
We go for family bike rides or cross-country ski outings, and drag the kids (sometimes they drag us) to the tennis courts, disc golf course and Oilers baseball games.
Last week, we had a typical family Friday night. We went out to dinner, then went to see the final installment of “Harry Potter.” (In the interest of full disclosure, we would’ve done that with or without the kids. In fact, we contemplated leaving the kids at home. And truth be told, we would’ve like to have gone out to nice dinners Before Kids, but we didn’t have any money back then.)
This week, we had a night without the kids. We went out to dinner, then stopped to rent a movie. The only difference was that I didn’t have to compete with my son to watch the movie on our big flatscreen TV.
We’ve got a ways to go before we find out what life is like in the time After Graduation, but my parents tell me it’s nice. From what I hear, you can go meet friends at the bar after work — without having to make any special arrangements days ahead of time — and you can go fishing whenever you want. A lot of people, as I understand it, like to go out to dinner and catch a movie.
But alas, my parents also tell me that they’re still stepping on the occasional Lego or Army man that turns up around the house from their own Dark Ages, when I was a kid.
Maybe the times don’t change quite as much as we think.
Will Morrow is editor at the Clarion.