I’m sure that at one time or another each of us has been in one or both of the following situations; either introducing two friends from different parts of our lives, or being introduced to people from another part of a mutual friend’s life. I’ve been in both situations recently. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin. A couple of months ago, my sweetie suggested that we get together for drinks and tapas with some of her friends one Saturday afternoon. This is, as you know, something of a major development in a relationship, and I took it as an indication that she was comfortable enough in our relationship to introduce me to her wider circle. So, off we hied to a local tapas bar for Happy Hour, during which I met three of her best friends. They were all charming, witty, intelligent and amusing, so things went well, with lots of jokes and a level of casual intimacy that suggested that I’d passed the test. Yay for me!
This belief was confirmed when the five of us got together for dinner a couple of weeks later at the home of one of the aforementioned friends. All went well, as did a second event last week, in which I supplied ample amounts of home brewed beer. It’s always reassuring to learn that you have been accepted by a wider group, and that your sweetie has the confidence to want to introduce you to their wider circle. No matter what we might think, the approval of our friends is an important aspect of any relationship. Having seen how my Ex has alienated her two closest friends with her choice of new partner, I know how much effect this can have.
My sweetie has already met my friends – see “Girlfriend Is Better” and “Tango Funebre”, and passed the test with flying colors, but there is an even more important test in my situation; meeting the kids. My ex and I had agreed not to introduce anyone new to the kids until the relationship had reached the six month mark, and agreement to which I, and only I stuck. I will admit that I had more than a little trepidation in broaching the subject with my sweetie, as it is much more of an acid test than meeting friends. Luckily, she had already told me about a museum exhibit that would interest the kids, so I suggested that meeting us there would be a good introduction; we’d be on neutral ground and the kids would be interested enough in the exhibits that her presence would not be seen as anything unusual, there being plenty of other distractions.
My other major concern was how the kids would react to the news, so I brought up the subject at dinner the night before. They already knew about the museum trip, and to my surprise and immense relief were completely nonplussed to learn that “My friend” would be joining us. As we waited outside the museum, my daughter, as expected, was all questions and nervous energy, making both me and my son dizzy as she did her best impression of a Whirling Dervish on speed. To my immense relief, the visit went well; the kids were intrigued by the Lego sculptures and spend quite a while making their own, before we explored the rest of the museum. I must admit that whilst my daughter enjoyed the ‘Hands on” exhibits, my son was less than enthralled, and my failure as a father was rubbed in a few minutes later when he announced that the Jimi Hendrix exhibit was “Not interesting”. Mind you, this is a boy who listens to medieval English plainsong and polyphony in order to get to sleep and listens to The Blackeyed Peas in the shower, so he still has a way to go, although my daughter refers to Frank Sinatra as “That really good singer”.
We retreated to a nearby pizza restaurant where my son really came out of his shell, which I had expected,as he takes a while to warm up to new people, whilst my daughter, the social butterfly had been fully engaged since the start.Thankfully, my sweetie really liked meeting the kids. As someone who had made a conscious decision not to have kids, I did wonder how she would react, but she took it all in her stride.
So this is the elephant in the room; what would I have done if things had gone differently? If the kids had not liked her and spent the whole time being sullen and sulky, or if my sweetie had been unable to cope with the kids, what then? Would I have brought the relationship to an end? There is no way I would have my kids around someone who didn’t like them or whom they didn’t like, and the bottom line is that my kids are part of the deal. I will admit that I had spent several days on tenterhooks prior to last Saturday as it was pretty much a make or break event and I was mightily relieved when all went well.
We will be taking things slowly, but now that they have met, it should be easier from now on. The next step is her coming to the island and meeting us for dinner. We want to take the process slowly and not rush ahead to the part where all four of us are in the house over night. That may take a while but on the basis of this first step, I think things should go well.