Our house contains a two-year-old which means we are required to watch far more Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood than recommended to maintain peace and order. If you aren’t familiar with the show, it’s essentially the 21st century version of Mr. Rodger’s Neighborhood complete with the catchy songs that help toddlers learn how to navigate this oh-so-confusing world. As I was getting ready for a 4th of July party this weekend, a line from one of the songs came to mind, “It doesn’t really matter what you do. Your friends just want to play with you!” How often do we forget this as adults? As I found myself stressing about freezing fruit for the water, the inflatable pool collapsing and having enough chairs for everyone, it was refreshing to realize, my friends just want to play with me. They aren’t coming to my house for fancy fruity water, or coordinated chairs, or even the inflatable kiddie pool I’d promised in the invite. They were coming because they just wanted to spend time with each other!
This past winter, my husband was feeling particularly isolated and like he wasn’t getting much social interaction. Little kids make it so hard to get social activities on the books – especially with a 7 pm bedtime. As a work-from-home mom, I have a lot more flexibility with play-dates, MOPS and other kid friendly events during the day but my husband doesn’t. So I took it upon myself to think outside of the box and come up with new ways to connect with people and the “Weeknight Dessert” was created!
A “Weeknight Dessert” takes place during the week after the kiddos have gone to bed. It is so much less work and less stress than having someone over for dinner during the “witching hours” of 4 pm to 7 pm. Desserts can be made earlier in the day when things are a little less hectic – or even the day before. The trick is identifying the right kind of guest. This forced us to think beyond the “usual suspects”. We needed people who either didn’t have kids or whose kids were big enough they wouldn’t have to worry about childcare. What surprised us is how many people were thrilled to be invited over for dessert! They dressed up, brought little gifts, went on and on about how nice it was to get out. I realized, as a society, we aren’t doing this enough. Everyone feels a bit isolated in their own busy lives. It didn’t matter if I was serving Baked Alaska or vanilla ice cream straight from the paper carton, they were just so happy to get out and connect. “Your friends just want to play with you! It doesn’t really matter what you do!” My kitchen was usually a mess, in a few cases I hadn’t even gotten the table fully cleared off from dinner. Toys were strewn everywhere. No one cared. It’s so easy to idealize what entertaining looks like that we forget its heart, connecting with one another. Truth comes from the mouths of babes or, in this case, one animated tiger.