Yesterday, Dan’s work division hosted a picnic for the employees and their families. A lot of times, when his work has an event, we skip it, because these things aren’t always family-friendly, even when they intend to be. But a picnic sounded perfect! We decided to go, and we were all very much looking forward to it.
This is how I imagined this was going to go (before it happened): there would be food, drink, and socializing; there would be space for the kids to play, other kids for them to play with, and not too much worry about spills and messes; we would get a chance to visit with some friends, and I would get to meet some of Dan’s co-workers that I don’t yet know; good times would be had by all.
In reality, this is more of what it was actually like: there was food, drink, and socializing; there was plenty of space for the kids to play … but every bit of it was at least semi-hazardoous (we were alongside a river, at the bottom of a steep hill that the kids wanted to climb up and run down, at the top of the hill were two bike lanes and a low wall . . . which had a 20 foot drop down to a highway on the other side, and there was a large, low and very hot grill); there were several other kids of just the right age for the boys to play with; we did get a chance to visit with some friends (several that I hadn’t seen in qiute a while) and I met many of the people Dan tells me about every day, but there were also lots of people crowded around in a pretty small area, nowhere good to sit, and several people who made it very clear that they weren’t happy there were kids there at all; good times were generally had by all, and we all ended the evening happy but EXTREMELY worn out.
Also, I hadn’t realized it, but I’m around more Austrians than expats these days. I’m so used to assimilating now that I don’t really remember entirely how to be American. And I’m very out of practice at being American while NOT accidentally being rude to a non-American. (I think I’ve squarely entered that part of expat living where I’m not at all a local but it’s getting uncomfortable to put my old culture back on, too.) I’m also an introvert (maybe now more than ever) and I so often underestimate how much these types of social events — especially with many people I don’t know — will take out of me. (As an interesting note, every couple there was made up of pepole from two different countries. I guess that’s how you know you’re at a UN function!)
Although it might sound like I’m complaining about the evening, I’m not. Ths is life with kids. We went, we supervised the kids intensely, tried to convince them to eat while sneaking quick bites of food between managing cups of juice and preventing Liam from literally diving into the brownies. It was fun, and social. We managed a few half-conversations with some old and and new friends between moments of running after the boys. Our kids had a FANTASTIC time playing with the other kids and were so happy to have made some new friends. We all had a really good time, in fact. But, the days of the relaxing, carefree social picnic are behind us, at least for now.