Happy University

It’s been a long time since “a dollar an hour per kid” made me a rich tweenager, and the cost of babysitting now makes me suck my breath in every time. We’re feeling the burn of double day care payments and fifty other increased expenses, and as worried as anyone about our financial future, but lately our usual friends-and-family sitters have been unavailable for one reason and another, so over the past couple of months we've ended up paying for babysitting several times. The extravagance is enough to make me almost grind my teeth down.

But how fantastic to leave the house with A, practically empty-handed, walk in silence down the steps, open and close two car doors, and drive away together.

Saturday was A’s and my sixth anniversary. Ingrid’s old teacher, T, came at 5:30, fed the girls dinner, played with them a bit, and put them to bed. We went to a new Indian restaurant in the neighborhood, and I (swaggering a little before the young waiter who questioned my ability to handle the heat) ate a meal of chicken vindaloo that threatened to sear a layer of skin out of my mouth and esophagus. We discussed what would happen if we both lost our jobs. (“We’d still love each other!” I gushed, grabbing for my ice water again. “We could live in my parents’ basement!”) We progressed to a new-ish neighborhood bar, where the greatest hits from our junior high years were playing, and A convinced me to order a Belgian beer that came in a round-bottomed glass with a wooden stand.

“Do you notice how it’s staying cooler that way?” he asked, when I was about a third of the way into it.

“No, but I notice I am getting very drunk.” It turns out I have become even more of a lightweight than I used to be.

Rumor has it that this year will bring the seven-year itch. “What do you think that involves?” A asked.

In our relationship, there is one person with itchy, dry skin, who does a lot of scratching in the privacy of her home. And one person who doesn’t even scratch his own mosquito bites and can’t bear the sound and sight of the scratching. I am the scratcher. “Lots of scratching,” I answered. “Probably lots of scratching.”

Ingrid, it turns out, loves it when T comes over. After three weeks of T taking care of the girls while A was traveling and I was at poetry class, she was a little disappointed that Daddy would be the only adult around while I was at class yesterday, and confused about why T wasn’t coming.

“Mama, when will you and Daddy go to your university again?”

Aaah, right. Five syllable word with “versuh” in the middle. “Probably soon, kiddo. Probably sometime soon.” As soon as we can afford it.


  1. Aw, happy university indeed.

    Wait, he doesn't scratch his mosquito bites? What kind of superhuman willpower does the man have, anyway??

  2. He doesn't pick scabs, either, not even when they're about to fall off.

  3. You go out without children and have a babysitter! That sounds so...grown up!

  4. Happy university!

    The cost of babysitting is just unbelievable. My parents volunteer about once every couple of months and we hire the nanny for weekend evenings a few times a year, basically. And I can't relax because I'm always calculating as we tip into the next hour. We could probably get a high school student for 2/3 the cost but at least I don't worry about Gatito's safety and happiness when he's with Tata.

    (I scratch all the time, too. I have psoriasis. What can you do?)

  5. I'm an awful itcher-scratcher too. On the other hand, I don't crack everything in my body (why stop with knuckles?), which spouse insists is both tolerable and necessary. I'm laughing about the fact that J and I just survived the 7th year, and the "7-year-itch" part never even crossed my mind. While I can't say it was the greatest year of our 8-year marriage--mostly due to various external stresses--we're none the worse for it. Except for the cracking. I hear that men get creakier with age... BTW-we could swap Friday or Saturday night date-nights sometime if you think your girls might put up with me. I promise not to make them pee standing up.

  6. Happy Anniv. and Univ. to your family.

    Having survived the itching/scratching of the 7th, and closer to the 9th side of the 8th, I can say with tremendous love the following: find a "dermatologist" if you feel the need. No hesitation. You're in good company.

  7. Happy (late) anniversary. We celebrated our 9th last night and had the same feeling leaving the house...