Perhaps one of the best parts about my mom’s BEST GIFT EVER to me and my fantastic and devilishly handsome husband (for our Christmas present, she’s giving us a Year of Dates – one a month for twelve months – isn’t that absolutely the best gift ever??) is that it forces us to do something together, just the two of us, no kids. Just the two of us.
The thing is, we really like doing things as a family. It turns out (I know it’s crazy, but), we actually like being with our kids. Even when they’re doing something that drives me totally nutso crazy – like kicking each other over and over and over again at the park while I yell at them to stop from the other side of the playground (totally impressing all the other parents at the park – we are such a model family),* or looking at me with total innocence (a look that I know means they’re as guilty as sin) while I say “No, you can’t do that” and then doing *that* (whatever *that* may be, usually something I consider dangerous or rude or both) anyway – even then, I still want to be with my kids; I just want them to use better manners (and really, am I asking too much with the whole good manners thing??).
So, given that we like taking our kids with us on our adventures, it’s been a bit challenging to decide on what to do on any one of our twelve dates. For instance: Me (all excited because I think I’ve finally come up with a good idea): Hey, want to go to a Rat City Rollergirls bout?! Him: Well, yeah, but don’t you think that’s something we should do with the kids, or at least with Paisley, since she’s in roller derby now?** Me (after a loud sigh): Well, what the heck (I used a different word, but I’m trying hard to keep this blog family-friendly) did we do before we had kids??
Which brings us to February’s Date #2: Lunch and Literature.
Way back when we first started dating (you’d think I was referring to the dinosaur age with the way I talk, but it does feel like a long time ago), and even after we were married but before we had children, Bill and I used to while away whole afternoons or evenings just browsing through bookstores (rarely buying, because for most of that time we were broke college students or broke bottom-of-the-ladder employees – browsing bookstores was such a cheap date… and, uh, I mean that in the best way possible!). New bookstores, used bookstores, small bookstores, big chain bookstores, specialty bookstores, it didn’t matter… we were (and still are) equal opportunity bookstore junkies.
But browsing bookstores requires time to browse; and with three kids who come with their own busy schedules of feedings and naps and play dates and numerous extracurricular activities and more feedings, there’s not a lot of time to browse in our lives anymore. Also, I have found that the few times I’ve taken my kids to the bookstore (usually under extreme duress, to find a last-minute gift or a book that I needed to read for book club by the next day), they don’t really have the patience for browsing, at least not for more than one minute and forty-two and a half seconds (and I can tell you, it feels like the longest 102 ½ seconds ever). Nor, it seems, do they care for any section of the bookstore other than the comic book section, of which they inevitably gravitate toward the definitely-not-G-rated-if-they-rated-these-things comics/graphic novels (it’s truly uncanny how they find the most inappropriate item in any store we ever enter). So, yeah, I’ve learned that the online bookstore is now my bookstore of choice. And online browsing just isn’t the same…
So, decision made, off we happily went to feed our souls (thanks, Mom!): lunch at our favorite little neighborhood Indian restaurant (delicious!), then off to the bookstore to browse (to browse!) through an abundance of literary marvels and even spend the gift cards we’d accumulated from various birthdays and holidays, but had yet to find the time to use. It was so fun to just stand next to each other, while leafing through books in the humor section, trying to be quiet (see, kids: good manners – they’re important!) while we laughed out loud at this humorist’s essays (Samantha Bee kills me) or at that comic book’s pages (Calvin & Hobbes – the best). We meandered (meandered!) through the aisles, each heading off to our own favorite sections (me to gardening and home design and cooking, him to sports and non-fiction and travel), to meet up again a short time later to show each other what we’d found. For instance: Me (drooling at the pretty picture): Look, I mean look, at this landscape. Do you think we could do this with our backyard? Him (probably hoping I’d snap out of it and remember we live in rainy Seattle and not on the sunny shores of Lake Como in Italy): Sure, babe. Sure. (He’s so good to me.)
Yes, we really did have a wonderful time together. Just the two of us. No kids.
We even managed to spend our gift cards! I bought four books. Of course… they’re all kids books. For the kids…
Okay okay okay, so it’s taking me a while to get used to this whole dating thing again! But, seriously, the books are really good…
* Of course it happened: Daylight Savings Time to the Rescue??
** Yes, roller derby has completely taken over our family: My Roller Derby Queen: Seeing Life Through Orange-Colored Glasses.