There is perhaps nothing that marks the difference in your life between pre-kids and post-kids more than a trip to Las Vegas. Sure, you might not even venture a trip to the gambling mecca where the drinks flow freely and the money flows even freer unless you were all invited to a wedding there like we were. So we packed the kids in the car and headed north to the glitz and the glamour and the city of sin. It was Oscar weekend and my only hope was for two kids who behaved like best actors. God help us all.
We got to the hotel relatively unscathed, after a couple of bathroom stops and an emergency trip to Target, and unloaded our stuff and flipped through the room brochures.
It was late.
The kids were tired.
What should we do!
The world is our oyster.
The city is just getting going!
But the kids were tired.
Look at all the lights!
But the kids were tired.
Oh shiny buildings!
Just then… there it was staring at me in huge letters in the hotel booklet: 24 hour child care available. “What the what?” I said to myself. I read it again. Yep. 24 hour child care available. Only in Vegas. They said the caregivers were licensed and bonded and albeit strangers, would surely take good care of your kids in a city of 25,000 drunken and partying nomads looking to get lucky at the slots… or elsewhere. Whenever you get back from the night out, you can take heart in knowing your kids did just fine with perfect strangers for however long you decided to take a time out from the kids to go live it up with the spouse. The little Dadmissions devil was on one shoulder. The little Dadmissions angel was on the other. The devil was really, really persuasive as I looked out at the lights of the city. But it wasn’t even close as I looked at the kids in their pajamas ready for bed. I’m no angel- but the kids easily won.
Truthfully, we’d never consider leaving our kids with strangers so we could go do the Las Vegas strip. We barely leave them with people we DO know. And that’s why Vegas is the true test of pre-kids versus post-kids. While the pre-kids us would have stayed out late and seen a show and had some drinks and made some great and passionate hotel room whoopie… the post-kids us got some chicken tenders and fruit for the kids and got to bed early with them because we’d had a long day. While the pre-kids us would have had some awesome adventures the next day, and some more drinks, and some dinner at a hot and trendy eatery run by some celebrity chef, and then gone back for some more mad and passionate hotel room whoopie the second night, the post-kids us went to the M&M store with the kids, and the dolphins and tigers at The Mirage, and the chocolate factory tour, and the Rainforest Cafe before watching PBS kids while we all went to bed at night after a late night stroll.
On our final night in Vegas we gathered for the entire reason we’d made the trip… to watch longtime friends exchange vows and renew their love for each other. We sat there with the kids in between us as the happy couple said their I do’s at their wedding. And really, there was no place I would have rather been, with the wife and the kids on a little weekend getaway. I don’t think the pre-kids us were selfish.. we were just couple centric. Now there are two other kids doing their orbits around us. Our world has gotten way bigger and way more complicated but way more enriching.
Just like a rare Elvis sighting, I caught a glimpse of my pre-kids life, and then it went away in a burst of neon. While some people lose their shirts in Vegas, I am happy to say we just lost a jacket and a stuffed animal. One day maybe we’ll come back to Vegas just my wife and I. But not this weekend. And that’s OK with me. Tonight, I’m glad to be home and sleeping in my own bed with the kids in their own beds right down the hall. And maybe just maybe if I play my cards right, I can still hit the jackpot with the wife.