Susan's Blog

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Hide and Seek

I have pitched this to the “Coupling” section of the Boston Globe mag. I think it’s pretty funny. Maybe some of you with kids and multiple pressures and stresses can relate!

I’ll never forget the burning humiliation and frustration of that summer’s night, twenty-something years ago, when my mother knocked on my bedroom door, saying in a tense voice, “Susan, he can’t spend the night in there,” referring to Ned, who was to become my husband several years later. But we did not know that at the time. All we knew was that we were adults (both of us, nineteen) and I could not believe how unreasonable and Medieval my parents were turning out.

I stepped out into the dark hallway and looked at her in disbelief. Ned and I were living in the same dorm room back at college, after all. But Mom’s lips had that tight, gray look and I knew there was no arguing with her. “I can’t believe this,” I muttered angrily, sending Ned into the guestroom. I chafed at the injustice, and also at the need to stuff all my piping hot libido back where it had come from. But I also remember thinking, “If Mom is this mad, Dad must be even worse,” and I shuffled back into my girlhood bedroom alone, secretly relieved that she had come to do the scolding, rather than Dad.

After that Ned and I simply stole time together, coming up with ever more creative ways to evade my parents’ rules. Like the time later that same year when I told them I needed the car to visit my sister in Williamstown, but instead I drove to Cambridge, to M.I.T. where Ned was working that summer. I called my sister and confessed how I planned to dump her for my boyfriend that weekend.

“Oh,” she said, laughing. “Yeah, go ahead. I completely understand.” After all, she had grown up with the same parents. She knew all about sneaking around them. I headed off to Cambridge, where I had never been, without a map or directions, just a street address. But I knew eventually I’d find Ned because I had the determination of a young woman in love – and in lust.

It turns out that the determination of a young woman in lust has nothing on the determination of an older woman in lust. I don’t really understand it, let’s just say that in my forties my husband and I have had a kind of a blessed Renaissance in our love life. But we are also blessed with three children. And so we have a problem, reminiscent of our old problem: finding ways to be together without their knowing.

Max is our fourteen-year-old. Hiding from Max is tricky. He is always around in the evening, on the computer, which is in a room in the middle of the house. Nothing gets past him, literally. Plus we live in an age where children learn, of necessity, the facts of life very early. And we live in progressive Massachusetts, where such things are often part of the elementary school curriculum.

Because of his age, Max is allowed to stay up until past 10 on a school night. Because of our ages, Ned and I usually can’t stay up much later than 10 on any night. This poses a big problem, in terms of discreetly meeting our needs. Like the a time recently when we slipped upstairs at 9, and he teased us innocently for always going to bed so early. Later, we felt energized enough for some Jon Stewart. When we crept back, Max was still there, online.

“What must he think?” Ned whispered to me. “He’s got to know something’s going on.”

“Maybe he doesn’t put it all together,” I said hopefully. But my face was bright red, and I could not bring myself to look at Max or to tell him that he should have gone up an hour ago. I think I barked something at him from the other room, so I wouldn’t have to guess at what he knew.

Ben, who is eight, is an even thornier challenge. He is still of the age where he might forget to knock on a closed door. Happily, we live in a battered old Victorian, whose doors have swollen into the doorjambs and so nearly every one of them has to be pushed hard to open it, giving the guilty party a little reaction time. Nevertheless, my husband and I had a moment’s panic one recent passionate Saturday morning when we stole upstairs, figuring that we had just enough time, breathless with excitement at the chance for being together in the fresh morning light, as opposed to the dark, tired evening. Nat’s video had just started, Max was on the computer, and Ben seemed to be busily drawing.

What we didn’t count on was the eight-year-old boy’s sudden, inexplicable need for Legos. Even with that door tightly closed, when I heard the light patter of those little feet in the hall, just a few feet away, I felt as if I’d had cold water spilled all over me.

Actually, it was worse: I felt as if my mother were standing right outside. What goes around, comes around, I guess. And when you’re being naughty, you can run but you just can’t hide.


“And so we have a problem, reminiscent of our old problem: finding ways to be together without their knowing.”

I LOVE this! I, along with many other parents can surely relate.

— added by Someone Said on Wednesday, October 25, 2006 at 3:54 pm

And I bet other parents are jealous because you STILL feel passionate about each other!

— added by Anonymous on Wednesday, October 25, 2006 at 4:36 pm

I suppose I could pull a Cosmo and do a blog post on what we do to keep things spicey after 20-something years. I’d have to preface it with a huge warning so that my close friends who are uncomfortable knowing so much about me don’t read it or parents don’t read it (or their friends who read this) or the faint-hearted or…

— added by Susan Senator on Wednesday, October 25, 2006 at 4:41 pm

In all seriousness, this is a huge problem for us (three kids also). At this point we have actually had to resort exclusively to mid-day rendez-vous at home during the week. There is simply no other private time. I always wonder what others do, but this is the first time I’ve seen it raised. Thanks Susan, fearless virtual friend.

— added by Anonymous on Wednesday, October 25, 2006 at 8:49 pm

I have friends who have a great trick. They have one 14 year old son. They call it their “$20 date at home.” They give their son $20, and drop him off at the movie theatre. 😛

This is a problem with anyone who has a child. Which is why my favorite response to co-sleeping protests of this nature is “There’s more than a bedroom.”

— added by Anonymous on Thursday, October 26, 2006 at 1:30 am

Susan, I love your candor and honesty! Very refreshing!

— added by Anonymous on Thursday, October 26, 2006 at 6:09 am

Just a note to Jen, mom of Alena, who posted a comment above–I see you’re from Peterborough, Ontario– what a great place! Stayed there last summer. Peterborough looks like an accepting place to raise a child with autism–good luck to you.

— added by Anonymous on Thursday, October 26, 2006 at 7:47 pm

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