Yesterday evening, BigBear and I took the plunge. We went out. Or, as local vernacular has it, we went out out. Properly out. With each other. Without LittleBear. In the evening.
We employed a babysitter. She has, briefly, met LittleBear before, as she's my boss' daughter, and has been to the company barbecue at our house. However, she's quite shy and quiet, and LittleBear has traditionally had little interest in teenage girls, so I'm not really sure she'd crossed his radar much.
I've got some great top tips for trying to go out-out when you have a small and clingy boy...
1. Make sure you choose to go out on the day the clocks have changed, thus ensuring that your child is not tired and doesn't go to sleep when you put him to bed at what is essentially an hour before his normal bedtime.
2. Make sure you choose to go out near the end of term in your child's first year at school, thus maximising your child's emotional exhaustion and need to be with Mummy at all times, even when asleep.
3. Make sure that the story book your child brings home from school for his reading practice involves a child being left at home with a babysitter and his parents getting stuck in a snowstorm and not coming home.
3(a) Prior to step 3, ensure that your child is particularly sensitive, does not like even the slightest hint of peril, and is guaranteed to spend his time worrying about what happens in all storybooks. This will help maximise the impact of step 3.
The net result of this brilliant setup is that you can then go out for a whole hour and a half and spend all of it worrying about whether your child is sobbing in your absence, and merely the majority of your time talking about the child who might or might not be sobbing, which you could perfectly well have done while sitting at home. Except you wouldn't have done because he'd be happily tucked up in bed, and definitely not sobbing, and so you wouldn't have been quite so pre-occupied.
LittleBear did not sob all evening. LittleBear did not in fact disturb the babysitter at all. We had a nice curry, and did talk about at least two other things besides LittleBear. I hope that we will do this again, but with less clinging and desperation from LittleBear. I am aware that this may be a forlorn hope.
LittleBear saved up his sobbing and being distressed for this evening, when I had to repeatedly return to his room for extra cuddles and reassurance. LittleBear's bodyclock has unreasonably refused to instantly adapt to British Summer Time and so this performance continued for approximately an hour after bedtime. I am tempted to start one of those stupid online petitions lobbying for not changing the damn clocks. I hate changing the clocks.