Yesterday, my friend Melissa posted this video on Facebook...
And when I watched it, I started to sob. I did not just get a little teary because it's a cute little parody to that song from Frozen. We're talking real, serious, messy sobs. Jude ran over and watched the video and shrugged, "I don't get it. What's so sad?" How could I explain to him that back when he was about 3 years old, I WAS that lady, that lady with a kid who just desperately wanted to find somebody to play with her!
You have to understand that I was old when I had Jude - 42. All of my friends were either happily resigned to childlessness or had birthed their kids 15 years earlier. I didn't have a single friend who lived within 15 miles of us who was home with a kid Jude's age. We lived in an apartment, surrounded by 20-something Hollywood hipsters. Not a mommy to be found.
Then one day when Jude was 3, my friend Deena, who had a one-year old, told me that she had joined a club called MOMS Club - Moms Offering Moms Support. I cringed. Eww. I was not a joiner of clubs with hokey acronyms. And a "support" group? Sounded so sad and desperate. What could I possibly have in common with any of these women? Deena assured me that it was a fun group, but I resisted.
Finally, she invited me to her sons first birthday party, and told me that a couple of her friends from MOMS Club would be there who had boys the same age as Jude, and they would all be starting the same pre-school that fall. Hmmm. Maybe this would be a good idea - let Jude meet a couple of his classmates before he started school. We showed up at Deana's house...and Jude and my lives changed forever.
Because at that party, I met Melissa and Juliet, the mothers of Teagan and Jackson, respectively, who would soon become Jude's best friends. And they became mine. Within a month, we had become known in MOMS Club as "The Three" because we did EVERYTHING together.
And guess what? MOMS Club WAS a fun group! All interesting, educated women who were taking breaks from their careers to stay home with their kids. While the club had numerous big group meetings and outings, the best part was our weekly Friday playgroup. MOMS Club organizes local playgroups based on the ages of kids and they are given kind of dorky names - the Frogs, the Butterflies. We were...the Crickets.
Our Cricket group met every Friday, alternating between the various public parks in the area. Jude and I both looked forward to it all week. Melissa, Juliet, Eileen, Deena, Lynn, Lily, Dawn V, Dawn M, Debra, Elena, Blythe, Brooke, Paria, Susan - all terrific women with terrific kids. We'd meet in the afternoon, let the kids run around like crazy while we sat and talked and gossiped, then we'd wrap things up when it got to be time to get some kind of dinner together for the family.
It all started out very wholesome, but eventually we became more...subversive. Mommy Juice was introduced. Juliet figured out that if you stuck a box of wine from Target into a stroller and covered it with a blanket, it looked very much like a sleeping baby. Also, sippy cups make excellent receptacles for tequila.
I'm afraid it wasn't long before someone narced on us, and MOMS Club got wind that a certain playgroup was smuggling liquor into park playdates, and told us to cease and desist.
Undaunted, we simply went rogue, unenrolled our playgroup from MOMS Club and rechristened ourselves The Krickets. Clever, yes? Then we shifted our playdates from parks to backyards, each taking turns hosting. Damn these afternoons were fun. The kids had even more freedom to run wild in private backyards, and the mommies could get even louder and sillier.
I'll never forget one Friday when The Krickets were due at our house at 3:30, and I was stuck in traffic coming back from an audition in Santa Monica. I called Jimmy. "The Mommies are coming in 30 minutes and I'm late!" "What do I do?!" he panicked (the Krickets frightened him a bit). "Just let them in, point them to the backyard and show them the margarita makings!"
I walked in about an hour later. The living room was empty except for piles of purses and bags and about 30 very small shoes. I heard laughter and squealing from the backyard and tentatively ventured out to investigate. When I stepped onto the back stoop I was greeted by the sight of utter chaos. About 6 naked small children, covered in mud, were jumping wildly on our trampoline. More naked, muddy children were running around our backyard shooting each other with waterguns. The mommies all greeted me with a cheer and my friend Lynn, waving a margarita, shouted out "It's like Woodstock!!" Seems the mommies had decided to fill the blowup pool with water and let the kids skinnydip and our grassfree yard had turned into a mudpit. Much fun was had by all.
Man, do I miss those days, and that group of women. Juliet would always bring her famous artichoke dip, Dawn would bring a big bowl of Texas Velveeta queso, and Melissa was known to whip up a batch of BLTs (beer, limeade, tequila - also known as a White Trash Margarita). These women really did support me through those early years of mothering. I guess it was a support group after all.
Interestingly, it was also MOMS Club that got me writing. They had a monthly newsletter, and someone suggested that I might like to contribute something. Me? Write? Hmmm...maybe. I decided to write a park review column, every month focusing on a different park where the Crickets/Krickets hung out. These quickly evolved into rather quirky, silly, and very personal pieces - I gave rankings based on how easy it was to sneak in liquor, and which public bathrooms to avoid if you didn't want your 3-year old to get to know a trannie hooker. Eventually, I developed a little following, people told me that they'd read the newsletter just for my park review. And the idea of this blog was born.
This group became the jumping point for most of our friends and social groups which we're now part of. It was through them that I found Jude's school. We all joined the YMCA together, and the kids all took swimming and Tai Kwon Do together. The Krickets were also the chrysalis for Beach Friday. I honestly don't know what our lives would be like now without having had them.
Sadly, we haven't had a Krickets playdate in many years now. Our kids have grown up and all go to different schools. A while back, Jude and I ran into Dawn M and her girls at the grocery store, and he didn't even remember who they were. Sad.
And The Three? We still love and support each other, though we no longer do everything together. I hope that we'll be lifelong friends.
Oh, and guess what we still have together every year? That's right, the Feast of the Seven Fishes. They are with us every Christmas Eve!
So who's up for a Krickets reunion? The kids might be a little old for the playground at the park, but I bet we'd all still enjoy a nice sippy cup of tequila!
Check out Ginny Marie and my fellow Parks and Recreation Spinners!
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