I am a jerk.
No, I force myself to remember, I am allowed to set the parameters of my own life.
I am having this existential crisis over a Facebook invite I am about to publish, and the crisis hinges on one phrase: Adults only, please.
This makes my brunch sound more like a swingers' party than the tasting for a new peach French toast recipe. But my house is tiny—not Tiny House tiny, just regular tiny— with a cubbyhole kitchen, sharp corners, precariously placed knick-knacks and one very enthusiastic Doberman. I find myself occasionally having to yell, "80% of the humans in this kitchen—get out!" And the bottom line is: Kids don't fit.
The policy has been fine-tuned over the past 20 years of doing time with friends and their offspring. The kids would make appearances when we went for manicures or dinners, making it impossible to hold a conversation with the other adult. Suddenly, presumed girls' night dinners for two became dinners for two and a half. I became resentfully excellent at third-wheeling to an infant.
And that's when I learned: You have to say it. And so, with some anxiety and regret, I do.
Because I am a jerk.
Also because I believe I am allowed. It's my house (which directly conflicts with the dog's interpretation of things). Yes, while there are reasons—the aforementioned tight hallways and corners and many heavy things at grabbing height and the dog's desperate attempts to clean your brain through your ear canal—the honest reason is more damning.
I just don't want them here.
I prefer the conversation of adults—though I'm willing to admit the jokes skew juvenile on a routine basis. I prefer adult cuisine and adult drinks and adult
At a New Year's Brunch, a friend showed up with her 15-year-old son.
While they repeatedly offered his presence at Burning Man as a testimony to the kid's worldliness, the conversation quickly went from a rousing game of "craziest show themes premium cable could use while still accommodating their need for graphic sex to prove their edginess" to more appropriate topics, then long stretches of silence. Then, finally, the 15-year-old showed off his dance moves.
And that's the story. Children will suck the air out of the room.
At Thanksgiving, I hosted my best friend, as I do every year, and her brand new plus one—an infant. I shuttled the dog off to the kennel, I rented baby gear. I scrubbed the floors and steam cleaned the carpets. And it went fine—friends passed the baby along from one lap to another while the less interested parties decamped to another room. This resulted in a very odd social experiment, where each time the baby made its way into the other room via human sling, a group would peel off in the other direction as innocuously as Tofurky.
When a Lyft carried Mommy and Baby back to the airport, I heard the sigh of relief from a woman who no longer had to watch where she stepped for fear of toys, or what she said for fear of F-bombs. I moved the stroller-inhibiting pieces of my home back into place while my dog ran from one corner to another, smelling the baby's presence—and staring at me like the dirty traitor I was.
And while I joke about being selfish, because that is precisely how I feel each time I need to iterate the age policy around here, the truth is I shouldn't be made to feel that way and I'm decently bitter over the whole megillah.
I assume that trips to friends' homes will include their children. I adjust my language and
I don't run a den of inequity; I just don't enjoy children. Some people don't enjoy cilantro. Some people don't enjoy dogs but I've never once said, "Oh, but you'd love my dog."
And I get that parents' brains are addled with a whole mess of commitments and responsibilities I don't have to think about, which can make whether their kids are invited a backburner issue to them—but how is that polite or acceptable either?
It suggests that between the breeders and non-breeders amongst us, it's my contingent that made the active choice and should require accommodation. While dispensing mini-mes is perfectly normal
So, to recap: It's my house. Your kids aren't welcome in it. Because it's my house. I'll let you know if that ever changes, but as we move forward, let's just make it a blanket assumption. Neither of us should have to keep justifying our life choices and autonomy.
And yes, I am a jerk.
Amanda Blum is a tech strategist in Portland, Oregon, where she revels in city-sponsored irony. She is active in local sports: Pickling in the summer and knitting in the winter.
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.