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Play Date

Play Date | May, 2014

The play sure seemed like a great idea. Benny's always loved the book "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day." When he was younger, he'd grab my hand and lead me to the couch, then press it onto my lap. We'd snuggle in, and he'd hang on every word, asking, "Again?" the second the book's final words left my lips. He still reads it to his little sister. So when I found out that our local children's theater was putting on the stage version, I instinctively grabbed tickets. Not for the whole family, just two, for Ben and me. It felt like we were due some one-on-one time. Funny how you can live with a person, see him every single day, and still feel like you're missing something. Like you're missing him.

But as my boy and I sat there in that darkened theater, listening to Alexander grumble, yet again, about moving to Australia, I found myself grumbling too. I want to connect with my son, so I dress him up and take him halfway across town to sit next to me and not talk? Brilliant. I glance over at Ben, his eyes wide, clearly loving the show, and relax a bit. Try to focus on simply sharing this experience with my kid. We'll talk over dinner.

After the play—which really was good, by the way—we head across the street and into the first restaurant we see. Let's call the split second I decide to stay, rather than hunt down another option, "What the Heck Was I Thinking" Moment #2. I should really consider trademarking these. The place was loud. Like, you'd go hoarse trying to have a conversation loud. TVs galore, broadcasting every athletic event in existence. Ben is a serious sports nut. There is precisely zero possibility that Mom can compete with The Game, everywhere, in hi-def. Still, I try. The boy can't maintain contact or finish a sentence. I start to get mad at him. I eat in silence, and get mad at myself instead.

During the ride home, as I'm mentally berating myself for messing up this golden chance at connection, Ben says, "Mom. Hey. Guess what Hayden said the other day. " Without missing a beat, he lays it on me, then goes on to offer juicy tidbits on topics including why he's not first best friends with Zack anymore, and how he's "kind of having fun" in art class lately. I can barely get in a few well-placed mmm-hmms. How did it take me this long to hit upon the magical combination of a relaxed mood and a sibling-free car? I take a few wrong turns to prolong this high note we're ending on. Mission accomplished. In the future, I don't care what my special one-on-one time with the kiddos involves, so long as it requires a solid chunk of drive time to get there.



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