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We’re at a disadvantage, Baby Bear and I.

You see, most of the stay-at-home parents around here (and by “parents” I mean “mothers” — there’s no¬†Little Children action going on in this neighborhood) have had their current gig since their babies were small, portable and perfectly suited for catching up at Starbucks. By the time their half-tamed wolverines are ready to rumble, they know the parks, the storytime schedules and, most importantly, each other.

Yours truly came to this a little late in the game, opting to stay home around the time BB turned two. So my search for a few daytime companions — ones who can cut their own meat — has required a little more effort. Truth be told, it sometimes feels like I’m single again.

Then as now, the outfit is everything. Heavy on the ironic T-shirts (me), light on the licensed commercial characters (him), with shoes that are attractive yet impervious to fluids (both). And I’ve rediscovered the pre-party — the playground is a much happier place if we both get some snackage ahead of time. (Although I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s bad form to carry your leftover martini in a sippy cup.) From there, it’s a question of making small talk: Do you come here a lot? What’s your major? How old is she?

At this point the weeding begins. Because first and foremost, I’m looking for additions to my social life; BB can sulk about preferred playmates just as soon as he’s learned to sigh “Mooooooommm” in a voice that clearly denotes centuries of suffering and abuse. Are you relaxed, cheerfully overwhelmed and/or more than a bit cynical about the strange role we’ve opted to play? Come sit right here by me. Are you gunning for martyrdom? Or very careful to tell me all about the other friends and playgroups you already have? I believe you want the Lily Pulitzer-clad sanctimommy on my right.

Look, we’re all in this together. Why not spend some time at the park chatting up the new girl, or giving a friendly wave to the folks you see every day but never talk to? Because if we all stay in our individual (and sadly alcohol-free) silos all day, dinnertime ain’t gonna be pretty.

On the Menu

Fish & chips & ketchup. Because in the good ol' U.S. of A., we like a little bit of processed to-may-to goodness with our British imports.