Thursday, August 09, 2007

Managing friends and family (paca)

An old college friend and roommate of mine came through town this Saturday, and it was really nice seeing him. The last time was when he came to my wedding in 1998. He and his wife just had one day as they were headed to Maui for a conference next. We had a fine day with the two of them. B takes to all adults immediately, so the only question is whether they take to him, and they did just fine. We headed to the Windward side to the Japanese temple, the Pali overlook, and then a Macadamia Nut "Farm".

They also had two other close friends of theirs, another couple, who we were supposed to meet up with for dinner. It was here that problems arose. First up, we set the time for 7:30. Everyone checked the time with us, and we said it was fine, but as the time got closer, it became more and more obvious that it was getting too late for B. In the end, N decided she should stay home. I offered to flip her for staying home instead, but she declined. So that was no fun. (I made it up a little the next morning by going running with B so that she was able to sleep in a couple hours.) Then we went to the restaurant. I knew it was a nice one, but I hadn't realized just how nice. I opened the menu and the cheapest entree was $30. I'm a grad student and that is just a wee bit out of the budget. I was able to find a nice side salad and bowl of soup for about $12, which worked out. I think everyone realized what had happened, when I was eating my soup and they were finishing ahi steaks, and so, being really nice people, they insisted on paying for my dinner when the bill came, but of course that's really awkward to me as well.

In short, they were two couples, in their 30s with no children, and they were acting as normal couples do on a special vacation to Hawaii. It's just really hard to match that completely well with me on a grad assist salary and a 4 year old when I have not been saving up for this. If N and B had come, it would not have worked. It would have taken $80 to get the three of us out, and a 4 year old is good for about 30-40 minutes for dinner, while we talked and ate for two hours.

I'm still not sure what the correct answer was. You don't want to let the four year old dictate every single activity, especially for special friends whom you haven't seen in years. Perhaps there was a compromise place, like a Chili's, that could have worked more universally, but who wants to come all the way for a vacation to Hawaii and go to Chili's?

I don't know.

1 comment:

Robin S. said...

Hi paca,

I think the deal is - the dinner works out best in a place where everyone is at ease. I have step-daughters in their early thirties, both with small children in their respective families, in Wales. They don't always want us to take them out to dinner when we fly over to visit them. They feel they're too old to be treated on an ongoing basis.

(To be honest, we usually insist in a nice way, reminding them that their time will most assuredly come with their own families and extended families, someday...)

Anyway, when we're all going out and we know each is paying his, her or their own, we go to pubs and other mellow-on-expenses places. The timing and the place have toi work for the 3 year olds as well. It's just part of the deal. There's almost always somewhere to go that's a compromise for everyone, and still good. (You know, inexpensive food but wonderful view type of thing.)

And I don't think you're leting your four year old dictate the activity as much as you're realizing that, realistically, bot he and your current grad student budget are just the way it is.

I'd just chalk this up as one of those uh-oh moments - and thank the fates for the timing being too late for an $80 buck pain in the, well, you know.