When most of my friends talked about date night with their husbands, I was kind of jealous. They would get a sitter, go anywhere they wanted for dinner and stay out as late as they wanted. For my husband and I, it was quite different.
First, finding a sitter. That was difficult. I think the most embarrassing moment as a parent for me was back when my oldest was four and in preschool and the head teacher’s teenage daughter was the go-to babysitter. Well, until I asked her to babysit my kids. I got I am too busy with school and activities response so no I cannot babysit your kids. Umm okay… That was an awkward conversation telling all the other parents that she said no. Which we all new was clearly a lie because she was babysitting for all of them. In the odd chance we did get a yes from someone it was that awkward staring at them and feeling of panic as they looked scared interacting with my two autistic boys. I remember one girl handing a plate of food to my middle son like he was a dog about to attack her. Sticking her hand out as far as she could trying not to get too close to him. He is Autistic not a dangerous animal! But you couldn’t blame them, they didn’t know. Some girls learned and became more comfortable. Others we didn’t see again.
Second, we had to stay in close proximity to our house. A few times our journey into Boston made it only to the highway as we got the call from the babysitter, crying, that our kids were acting out. And to say acting out was more of what a typical child does. Our autistic child was engaging in property destruction and throwing things at the babysitter. So take out pizza it was.
Finally, if we made it to the restaurant (Hooray!) we felt pressured to hurry so that we could get home and relieve the babysitter from taking care of our kids. We actually got a call once from one babysitter asking us if it was okay that they played up in the attic. We had a pull down. HARD NO! Her response of I thought so, but your son made it sound like it was where you played wasn’t too reassuring so we quickly ate our meal and got the check.
It wasn’t until my youngest was in preschool when we found babysitters that were truly amazing with my kids. This was a life saver. However, we paid well over the going rate of $10-12 hr. So date nights weren’t as often as we liked. I am so grateful for all the time we did have, not only to have a night off, but to feel like normal parents doing something as simple as date night.