My children are having a rather boring vacation week. I’ve been working all hours for the last couple of weeks, wedding planning is coming down to the wire (who told me the worry ended with shoe selection? THEY LIED), we’re still keeping the house clean ’round the clock in case anyone wants to stop by and buy it (would you like to buy it? it’s… house-y!) and it just isn’t a great time to schedule some Big Fun.
Add this to my already towering pile of mommy-guilt, I guess. So far the most exciting part of vacation week has been the Unlimited Popsicle clause. Basically, for $2.99 I’ve bought myself a pretty good chunk of uninterrupted work time. Because the only rule about popsicles is that you have to eat them OUTSIDE. Here, kids; have another one.
Today Chickadee got up at the crack of dawn and went to work with her dad. This left me with one Monkey-child. On the bright side, there was no arguing or tattling. On the other hand, there was a lot of “When will you be done with that?” and “I miss Chickie.” So I tried to work quickly this morning and by 1:00 I was able to push back from my desk and announce that I felt like going on a lunch date.
“Do you know anyone who would like to go out for lunch?” I asked him.
“Well, we could just have lunch HERE,” he pointed out.
“That’s very true,” I agreed. “But I feel like a treat. And I need a date. Will you be my date?”
“I can’t be your date!” He was shocked and horrified. “You’re marrying Otto! You’re not allowed dates!”
“Different kind of date, buddy,” I swept him up and covered his cheeks in kisses. “And besides,” I stopped to whisper in his ear, “you will always be my very best boy, and that means we can go on a date whenever we want to. Quality Mama and Monkey time!”
He giggled and squirmed out of my arms, running for his shoes.
After a brief discussion we settled on our local diner, and in the car on the way over Monkey debated the relative merits of grilled cheese vs. a hot dog. I told him to take his time and make sure he made the right decision.
A waitress in a poodle skirt led us to a corner booth, and I asked Monkey to decide which side I should sit on. He pointed to one bench and I slid in… and then he slid in beside me.
“Don’t you want to sit across from me, sweetie?”
“Nope! This is good,” he snuggled into my side and I was tousling his hair when he discovered that the pillar at the end of the booth was mirrored. Then we had to admire ourselves for a while. (“I look so cool with my hair like this!” It’s a shame he’s got such self-esteem issues.)
We ordered (grilled cheese and chocolate milk for him, coffee and a greek omelet for me) while I tried to remember if I have ever been out to eat with just Monkey. We don’t go out to eat much, anyway, but I don’t believe it’s ever been just him and me.
“So, Mama, what do you want to talk about?”
“Well I don’t know, what do YOU want to talk about? Read any good books lately?”
“YES!” he exclaimed. “I have been reading these books that Daddy got at the library. They’re about a boy and his dog! Like me and Puppy! And they’re called Henry and Mudge.”
“I see,” I said. “So, let me guess. The dog is named Henry, and the boy is named Mudge?”
“Mama! No, the other way ’round.”
“Ohhhhh! I’m sorry, I’m so silly. So the boy is named Mudge and the dog is named Henry. I see.”
“MAAAAAMAAAAA! Mudge would be a VERY SILLY NAME for a boy.”
“Really? Some people think Monkey is a very silly name for a boy, you know.”
Our drinks came, and we sipped while discussing Henry and Mudge’s adventures. Then we talked about whether or not you could wear a special suit and land on the sun, and when I said I didn’t think so, Monkey said what if the suit was made of ROCKS, because ROCKS DON’T MELT. Then we talked about volcanoes for a while.
Then our food came, and for a couple of minutes we ate, side by side.
“What if,” Monkey announced around a french fry, “you lived on Planet M? What would you have there?” We’ve played this game before.
“Well, we’d have mamas, of course. And marriages! And marshmallows. And monkeys. And plenty of milk, plus some macaroni.”
He nodded, pleased with my assessment. “I am going to Planet C,” he confided, “because that’s where they have the cookies.”
“What about Planet O?” I challenged. “That’s where you have to go for the Oreos!” He considered this, then explained that he would just travel through the galaxy visiting all the different planets and collecting the things that he wants. “Boy, you are always thinking,” I said in admiration. “You’ve got it all figured out.”
“I know,” he answered.
We finished up and I paid the bill (“Mama, what if you wrote a million dollars on that line when you signed the slip?” “Well, that would be a problem”), and we put Monkey’s leftovers into a styrofoam box to take home. “I think that’s everything. Ready to go?” He nodded and slid out of our seat.
We’d taken about four steps towards the exit when Monkey whirled around and put his hand on my arm.
“Mama, thank you for taking me out to lunch.” He moved in to hug me, right there in the middle of the diner.
“Oh, you’re—” my breath caught in my throat for a moment. “You’re very welcome, sweetheart. Thanks for being my date.”
He pulled back and slipped his hand into mine, leading me towards the door. “You’re welcome! I’m your best boy. And Chickie is your best girl. And Otto will be your best man, except that that’s someone else in a wedding, which is sort of weird. They should just call HIM the best man.”
I laughed. “You’re very smart, you know?”
“Let’s go to Target!” he replied.
Happy Love Thursday, everyone. May you open your eyes and truly experience the love already surrounding you, this week and always. It’s right there for the taking.