Wanted: One child, part-time only, flexible hours. Ages 5-7, girl preferred, though boys who like American Girl doll play will be considered. Must be available for play dates, excursions, dinner with grown-ups. Sleep-over expertise desirable. All snack, outing, and transportation expenses covered; no reciprocation required.
If there was such a thing as "Craig's List for Parents of Only Children," that would be my ad. You will notice that I am not actually seeking a second, just a loaner, a child we would happily return to her rightful family as needed. In the music world, she would be called a "ringer": someone who fills in whenever an orchestra wishes; though this performer's talents are much appreciated at show time, she is meant to pack her violin and move along afterward.
We need a ringer because, as our only child gets older, it has become clear to her that two 40-something men are not as consistently fun as kids her own age. This wasn't always an issue: When she was a baby, I strapped her on and took her everywhere for stimulation --sing-a-longs, parks, the local mom's group. When she was a preschooler, we spent most of our time with dear friends whose kids she'd known since babyhood. But when they moved away, it became painfully obvious how much their children had acted as proxy siblings for our gal.
It's not like she can't get one dad or the other to sit on the floor and enact elaborate serial dramas involving Barbie talent shows. But there comes a point when pretend-play fatigue sets in. And we adults reach that point long before she does. The truth is that I have about an hour limit on voicing the emotional dilemmas of dolls of any kind (not to mention their assorted dogs, cats, and horses). My husband is not much better, which leads us to a math problem: The Single Child Equation...