With Mardi Gras fast approaching, I’ve found myself once again explaining to non New Orleanians how all of this works, especially as a parent.
A national twin group I’m in whose babies were all due last February asked what everyone’s first birthday plans were. I explained our plans to have a party on the parade route, with cupcakes, fried chicken, and balloons anchored to our ladder. I realized that people were probably thinking I’d be parking my children on Bourbon Street, caddy corner to the Hustler Club, all as I handed the girls a drumstick and some beads to dangle at the tourists. Show me your milk-makers, we’re tired of seeing mom’s!
It had occurred to me before, but not so much until recently, that we really are oddballs. For two weeks a year, we throw caution to the wind, which usually doesn’t go hand in hand with successful parenting. And yet, we manage to make it seem normal. At least that’s what we tell ourselves.
But really, things that are totally normal here would send others into a complete tizzy.
We keep our kids up past their bedtime, on purpose, with thousands of strangers. All of that sleep training, undone for blinky beads? You bet.
We allow them to subsist on cinnamon pastries and fast food for nearly two weeks straight. Popeye’s mashed potatoes totally count as real vegetables.
Coozies get pulled out of breast pump and diaper bags and no one bats an eye. We’re dedicated to our children … and keeping our beer cold.
Kids taste alcohol before they’re five. We like to pretend we’re European.
Balancing a baby on a hip, beer in hand, and successfully deflecting beads? Achievement unlocked.
Scaffolding and ladder balance are also master skills. Look kids, no hands!
Dance parties on the street with [drunken] strangers. Sure, honey, go do The Wobble. But stay where I can see you!
Bars are totally appropriate places for toddler bathroom breaks.
Parents will readily hand their children over to friendly faced strangers. Where’d you go to high school? Ben Franklin? Yeah, you can hold my baby.
Snap-n-Pops. Come on, kids, time to hurl explosives at each other!
Moon Pies tossed from strange men on floats totally count as breakfast. Expired 2012? Pffft. Eat up!
Children make great beer retrievers. What? We don’t teach them how to open them … Yet.
Oh thank goodness, a port-a-potty in the back of a pickup truck. Go ahead, honey. Give the nice man the dollar. Don’t worry, I’ve got hand sanitizer.
Public urination is frowned upon. But if a kid’s gotta go, car tires and bushes are fair game.
Ok, so, yeah. Maybe we do parent a little differently a few weeks a year. Somehow it feels normal, and despite all of it seeming counter-intuitive to the unfamiliar, most of us turn out just fine. But really, can you imagine things any other way?