Last Wednesday night, Ali had her Awanas awards ceremony. Noah had his Cubbies banquet the week before, and I remembered the agony of trying to get him to sit still through Ali’s ceremony last year. It negated any ability I had to celebrate my oldest child, and I had no desire for a repeat.
So Chris and I decided, with no input from any children, that we would split ‘em up – Chris would go with Ali to her ceremony, and Noah and I would go elsewhere. Anywhere, as long as it didn’t require him to sit still and quietly for over half an hour.
We thought we had this handled. It made sense. It was a good solution. Who could complain?
Ali assumed that Noah was coming to her ceremony, so she decided to help us out and excite him about the prospect.
“They have ICE CREAM on the PLAYGROUND afterwards!!!”
Noah doesn’t like ice cream. When we go get FroYo, he gets a cup full of toppings. But her excitement had won him over. He could not wait to go to Ali’s ceremony to get ice cream which he would most definitely not eat and hand to me to hold while it melted down my arm.
So Chris informed him. “You’re not going to Ali’s ceremony. You’re going with Mommy.”
“BUT I WAAAAANNNA!! THEY HAVE ICE CREAM!!!”
Why God made children’s brains to not grow logic and reasoning until they’re 25 I will never understand. I guess so we could commiserate with His constant eye rolls at us.
So I decided to spin it. Because that’s what parenting is. And I’m pretty sure that’s what the Spin Doctors were referring to with their name – what amazing parents they were.
(Also now we know who they were really referring to as “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong.”)
(By the way I’m totally making this up and am certain to be contacted by The Spin Doctor’s senior care nurses for my libelous statements about their music. And now about their age as well.)
(Holy Crap I just googled them and did you know they released an album last year?! Pardon me while I take a break and listen.)
(Okay I’m back. They definitely sound tired from all that spinning.)
So anyway. I pulled Noah’s sad, despondent face up in the palm of my hand and said, “Actually, buddy, you and I are going to go on a date.”
He immediately stopped his moping and his eyes grew seven sizes.
He’d never heard the term used before except with regards to the magical place that Chris and I leave for when they’re with a babysitter. He knows we get dressed up and depart with giant smiles on our faces and come home late. This date stuff has to be fantastic. OBVIOUSLY.
He was insatiably impatient for the rest of the day. At one point, he yelled upstairs to me. “HEY MOMMY! What are you DOING up there? I’m ready to go on our date!!!!”
We met up with Chris, dropped Ali off with him, and set off on our special night.
Noah picked Firehouse Subs for dinner, because the kid loves himself the meatballs out of a meatball sub, and he knew he didn’t have a chance at convincing me to take him to McDonald’s, date or no.
Then we went to Sybil Temple, because I needed a picture of it for Picture Birmingham. While we were there, he found a “secret passageway” leading out of it. He was most certainly the first to discover that back stairway.
At first I had him convinced to go to the Sunset Playground so I could take pictures and he could play, but then he spotted the Little Mall and wanted to go there. So we compromised – we’d do both.
I took a few sunset photos,
he even allowed me to take one of him,
And then we went to the Little Mall, where he played happily at the train table in the toy store, because as all parents know, the train table at the toy store is infinitely more fun than one’s own train table. Because 1,001 other kid’s germs make those trains SO much more delightful.
As we were leaving the Little Mall, he spotted a kiosk selling Starburst. Because it was a date, and I was paying, I bought them for him – under one condition: That he would let me get a picture of us arm-in-arm.
And then we went home.
We did nothing out of the ordinary – nothing special that we wouldn’t have done as a family on a random night out. I did absolute zero to deserve any accolades or extra appreciation.
But Noah didn’t see it that way.
He thought it was pretty much the most special night of his life. And I had no idea the word “date” would carry so much weight. If I’d known, I would’ve used it to exhaustion years ago.
That night, after he had to get out of bed for that last bathroom visit, he peeked his head into my bedroom door, smiling adoringly.
“I really enjoyed our date tonight, Noah.”
He skipped back off to his room, yelling as he did, “Loved it!!”
Chris and Ali got home a few minutes later, but Noah was already asleep. Chris went to check in on him, and without opening his eyes or moving from his deep-sleep position, Noah said,
“On our date we went to Firehouse and then to Sybil Temple and then the sunset playground and then the little mall and then a tiny store where Mommy bought me Starburst. It was so much fun.”
The next morning, I fixed breakfast (i.e. poured the cereal.) Ali sat down at the kitchen table to eat hers, and Noah said, “Hey Mommy. I want you to come out on the porch with me for breakfast.”
I carried our cereal bowls out, and saw that he had already been out there. He’d set up a breakfast nook for two, moving the table and a chair over to my favorite spot, the porch swing. On the table were a pile of five Starbursts for each of us.
Then he said, “Oh wait. I need to make them fancy.” and rearranged them.
Several times that day, he told me that we needed to date again soon. And I got more unprovoked hugs than I’ve ever gotten in my life.
A few days went by, and we were all driving by Sybil Temple. It made Noah realize that we’d gone a whole 96 hours without a second date. He grabbed my arm and said,
“Hey Mommy. Tomorrow night. You. Me. DATE.”
So, fellow parents fighting the daily battle of illogical offspring: Spin. Spin your parenting well. Use their inability to properly apply deductive reasoning to your full advantage. Turn the mundane into the extraordinary by just a tiny bit of marketing. You’ll get a few more hugs for it, and maybe a lot less whines.