Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Late Night Baby BBQ

As you know from New Kid in Town, I was lucky enough to win a pass to the Dad 2.0 Summit in Austin, Texas recently.  It was quite an experience and I made some great friends there while learning how to improve my blogging skills. If you consider them skills.

Because I booked my plane ticket last minute, I flew in a day early because the ticket cost half the price. It was also a great excuse to spend some time with an old college friend I hadn’t seen in many years.  Christy is the proud mother of a beautiful 4-month-old little girl, “Baby E”. Jeff is a great Dude who not only owns one of the best clothing stores in Austin, downSTAIRS Apparel, but is also a well known DJ in town.  It was very refreshing to see their relaxed, yet progressive, parenting style but I would expect nothing less in the town that brought us Whole Foods.  

Christy picked me up at the airport around 8:00pm, baby in tow.  We headed back to their house and caught up on the last few years. She and I had been very close in college, but geography and life happened and we basically fell out of touch. If not for the magic of Facebook over the last couple years, I wouldn’t have known where she was or what she was up to in life. Or what she had for dinner last Tuesday.

My hosts asked what I wanted to for dinner, and after much deliberation, we settled on an authentic Texas BBQ joint called Uncle Billy’s around 9:30pm. Since Austin is 2 hours ahead of LA, dinner was right on schedule for me.  We jumped in the car, with the baby and Zucca, their fluffy chocolate poodle, and headed out for the night.  

This was only part of our meal.
The weather was Texas perfect, right around 72 moist degrees.  As we sat on the patio and caught up on life we ate amazing smoked turkey, juicy brisket & ribs.  The onion rings were the size of small tires and must have been fried in the sweat of angels.  As we ate and laughed, Baby E napped in her infant seat then after a while she woke up and watched us eat.  Even though it was almost 11:30pm when we left, she was perfectly content and happy to be with us. So was her doggy/brother who was lucky enough to find some gristly bones to gnaw on.  

Sleeping beauty
We got home and Baby E had a nightcap from the fountain, then went to bed around 12:30am. She quickly passed out and the grownups stayed up to talk more about people and places from our pasts, present and future.  Just as we regularly did in Columbus many years ago, we stayed up chatting until 3:00am. The big difference is that back then we could sleep until noon the next day with the only consequence being possibly facing the wrath of an angry professor. Now we were at the whim of a sweet cherub, who thankfully slept long enough for us all to get some rest.

Everyone parents differently.  Whether you’ve read 20 parenting books or none and just fly by the seat of your pants, a lot of babies’ tendencies are environmental.  For Baby E, the child of night owls, it was no big deal to stay up and out late. If she was just going to hang out in her infant seat, it didn’t really matter whether we were home or out.  And the flexibility Christy and Jeff are instilling in her will greatly benefit her as she grows.  I’ve known many kids, from infancy through adulthood, who have been the product of strict or rigid parenting and have noticed that, in many cases, it sets them up to be rigid and inflexible adults.

When my Little Dude was born, if we had somewhere to go we took him whether it was to restaurants, parties, etc.  That’s not to say we took him to midnight screenings of Harry Potter (mainly because even I wouldn’t go to that), but we also didn’t have to be home at 5:30 so he could have dinner and go to bed at 6:30. Now that he’s 2+, it’s a little more tricky, but we still try to be flexible when possible. 

I give Christy and Jeff major props for dictating Baby E’s life, not the other way around. It’s easy to get caught in self-inflicted baby related traps that can be nearly impossible to break out of.  But sometimes when it’s late and you need a platter of lean brisket and hot links, you just have to go with the flow and know that the baby will not break as a result. 

Austin is likely as close as I'll ever get to Luckenbach, Texas. 
Here's one of my favorite tunes nonetheless.