My husband and I do regular date nights with our kids. We alternate which kid we go out with, and we let the kids decide what we should do. We always enjoy our one-on-one time and getting to know the kids on their own.
Recently, my son and I were scheduled to go out on our monthly date. He hadn’t told me where he wanted to go, so on the day of the date, I asked him about it:
Me: So, Colin, your sister and Dad went to a movie for their date. Where do you want to go? What do you want to do?
Me: Bowling? Petroglyph*? The movies?
Colin (with a little twinkle in his eye): We could go to Target…
Me (eying him suspiciously): Uhhhh, Target? For a date?
Colin: I love Target. You love Target. It’s both of our favorite place. It’s a win-win.
(He’s 8, remember.)
It was hard to argue with that kind of logic. But a trip to Target didn’t feel like a “real” date to me. So I suggested an add-on.
Me: Okay, we can go to Target and then let’s go to dinner. You can pick the restaurant.
And so we went to Target for our date. The first stop was at the Food Court to purchase an ICEE for the boy. (Cherry is his favorite.) Armed with portable sugar, we walked out to the main store.
Colin (slyly): Mom, do you want to look at your clothing section? I know it’s your favorite.
Me: No, this is your date. What section would you like to look at?
Colin (with a sheepish grin): How about the toy section?
He held my hand as we walked to the toy section, and then he perused the aisles for a few moments before zeroing in on a couple of small Imaginext toys. He held one in each hand and looked back and forth at them. I rationalized in my head that I would have spent more money at the movies so I offered to buy him one of the toys.
Me: I’ll tell you what. I’ll buy one toy for you since we’re not spending any money on an activity.
Colin (rapidly before I changed my mind): Great. You buy this one, and I’ll buy this other one with my money. And this one too. (Grabbing another toy.)
While we were in line to make our purchase, Colin held the toys in his arms and hugged them tightly.
Colin: You know what, Mom? This was a really great trip to the store. And the ICEE and toy shopping has been so much fun. I’m not all that hungry. I don’t think we need to go to dinner.
Me (a bit dejected): Okay…
Back at home, we went to the kitchen table to remove the toys from their packaging. (Other parents will understand that this task involved a machete, a blowtorch, and a stick of dynamite…followed by a trip to the first aid kit.)
He ran his new car over the table, and I flew a jet through the air. We had a pretend car vs. jet battle. This adorable mother-son scene lasted about 5 minutes.
Colin (shoving the empty toy packages at me): Mom, can you take this stuff out to the recycling bin?
Me: Sure, buddy. I’ll be right back.
I took the packaging out to the recycling bin, and when I came back inside, I discovered that he had moved his toys to his room and shut the door.
And that concluded my date night with Colin. Basically, he just wanted me for a ride and some free toys. I feel so used.
*That right there shows you what a good mom I am. Petroglyph is a ceramic painting place. I HATE those ceramic painting places. I don’t like to paint, and mine always come out ugly. I don’t like useless ceramic crap in my house. And I definitely don’t like paying eleventybilliondollars for ugly useless ceramic crap. But I would have gone—for my son.