Sunday, June 5, 2011

Time Out

I went on a date last night. A parent date. Not meaning it to sound weird I guess it’s necessary to define the word “date”. My good buddy tells me there are 20 different meanings to this word. I guess the one I am meaning is that M (my 11 year old son) and I fixed a time and a place to spend some time together – just the two of us.

It was rather spontaneous. My father has Season (well Life really but that’s an aside) tickets to the Rugby and couldn’t use them last night. As we have J this weekend one or both of the adults needed to stay home. I could have given them away (they are great seats & I’m sure there are some people I need to butter up at the moment). It came to me though that what I really wanted to do was to spend some one on one time with my son – not ferrying to and from school or supervising homework or telling him to clean up his room – but real time – talking and laughing and listening time.

We had a dinner at a restaurant where M would have, one year ago, turned his nose up at and refused. S & I (and a lot of credit has to go to S here) have been working on M’s palette and trying to improve his curiosity about food. It is working.
There were no single tables left so we were given two seats opposite each other on a long communal table with four other couples – two couples to each side of us. The man sitting to M’s left gave us and then M a good long stare as if to say “wtf?”. He didn’t look at me again as he was probably feeling my “wtf!” back good and strong and he knows a lioness mother when he sees one.

M told me his meal was “No offence Mum but the best lamb I have ever tasted”. None taken. It was slow cooked, braised lamb off the shoulder, literally falling off at the touch of the fork. It felt good and warming - both the food and the sharing. My Pinot and his lemonade went down well too and I put aside my PM ban of carbohydrates for garlic bread (by this I mean a whole garlic bulb with its head chopped, roasted and served with ciabatta bread or it’s Spanish equivalent).
After our peasant style meal M asked if I wanted to “go and explore” before the rugby started. I must have looked a bit dubious or at least confused. He explained that we “haven’t spent much time in the area” and that it would be good to “explore”. That word again. It’s a wonderful word. I felt like a kid again. Remembering that feeling of excitement regarding unknown terrain in terms of cupboards, trees and “Private Property Do Not Trespass” signs.

Leaving a Paddington restaurant though it was difficult to know what he meant – or expected. Window shopping didn’t seem to be cutting it. So we walked down to the ground. Perhaps the bogans outside the Caxton were going to be enough of an eye opener for M in terms of adventure. I tried as best as I could to shield him from this kind of “exploration” though. This time the “Private Property” sign was one that I erected and adhered to myself.

Once at the ground it was evident from M that my iphone wasn’t entirely welcome. I begged 2 mins so that I could check in on FB and talk to my best friend who was also at the ground. Somewhat sated I put it away. M’s look of approval my reward. I was hardly going to ask for permission to tweet.

We had a great night. I did sneak a few texts to my husband, which were apparently okay as they were “about the game, you’re alright Mum”. But M and I chatted & laughed and just loved hanging out. He was wonderful company. The real eye opener, though, was me. I was wonderful company. I wasn’t nagging or pleading or lecturing. I wasn’t hurried or dismissive or worried about anything other than the here and now (oh and the Bogans at the Caxton but that was only fleeting). I was a good date. I was a good parent date.

I tell a lot of my clients to spend time with their partners and spouses. This is becoming a well known catch cry in modern society. “Date nights” are common entries in our Outlook calenders. But how often do we do parent dates? Like any other kind of get-to-know-you scenario they seem to work better with one on one. I know this is hard logistically for many. Multiple children + minimal time combined with scrutinised entertainment funds doesn’t easily equate to one child and parent date nights. But if you can, try it.

I love this picture I found. Not only because of the action with the father and daughter, but because of the care and time the father obviously put into dressing her. And having fun with that. Not taking everything so seriously. I think that’s the key. I kept hugging my son and telling him I loved him. This is not unusual – but it was so profound last night I wanted to yell it out rather than whisper it. And I enjoyed myself. That is I found my own company a good thing. I found my inner explorer again. And I liked her.

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