It's funny how things occur to you as a fresh idea, as from no where. I'd like to think it has something to do with the many requests for wisdom I send up to the Almighty. In any case, this "date night" idea was one such of these ideas. I presented the idea to Jason, and we both agreed that we wanted to give each of our four children some one-on-one time to look forward to that is planned and controlled entirely by them. There are no distractions or unplanned holdups due to the wants and needs of their siblings. The general plan is for Papa or Mama to take out one child per month on a mid week, evening date with a budget of around $25.
Caleb, being ready to start school next week, was chosen to be first....and he chose me!!! For several days he pondered his choice for our date - bouncing back and forth between the Jungle at Kids Club and the G6 Airpark - a trampoline extravaganza. Meanwhile, the other children plotted their upcoming dates as well. Emet has a fairly good grasp that he has another month to wait, while Anna Ruth asks every day, several times, if it is time to go see the princesses. (She and I will be going to see the Disney Princesses on Ice in October. It may be a long two months until then! :-) )
I asked him if he wanted to swing by Costco first to pick up some construction paper for school. He was quiet for a minute, so I assured him that it was completely up to him. After thinking for a bit, he said "Well....I think I'll pass on that tonight." "Ok" I said, "this is your night, so you decide where we go." As I glanced in the rear view mirror, the sparkle in his eyes and the slightly turned up lips told me he was pleased of this fact.....and enjoying the freedom of being in charge and in command of Mama's attentions.
I think both of us were a bit intimidated on entering the G6 Airpark. Other than the check in area, a snack bar, and some places to sit down....the entire warehouse was filled, wall to wall (in fact - up the walls!) with connecting trampolines! We paid and ventured in.
You know that feeling you used to have as a child where you are overcome with delight and joy? I'm sure my expression matched Caleb's in that we were both almost giddy with the pleasure of this new, fun experience. It was the kind of thing one might anticipate in a strange dream, being able to run all over a sea of giant trampolines, bouncing and flinging yourself about. Caleb and I mostly stayed near each other, bouncing on connecting trampolines. For the longest time, we bounced and grinned at each other, full of exuberance. I was taken back to those first dates with Jason, once we were past the awkward first few, and we could really just let loose and have fun together....before the realities of life played into our time thoughts....when our relationship was all about dating and building the foundation of a lifelong friendship.
And then it struck me. I may have day to day, even minute to minute, interactions with Caleb at this point in time, but to build a long and lasting connection will take effort and focus.....just like it does with Jason. And, it's never a job to be "checked off", for all relationships take ongoing effort. I don't get an automatic "in" just because I'm his mom. As we continued to bounce, smiling at each other, my mind was filled with thoughts. A time will come when outside influences will begin to take a larger piece of his thinking. I want to be a primary influence in his life....one that he trusts to come to for advice and discussion....but I'll have to earn that spot. And nights like this one, I believe, are the building blocks for such a relationship. I found myself hoping that we could repeat this night sometime. I know he'll probably alternate back and forth between Jason and I, knowing Caleb and his caring, sensitive spirit, but I'd love to be his date a couple of times a year. What?! That's it? Only a handful of dates before he's a teenager?!
We left the main bounce area and headed into the foam pits. More trampolines from which you could launch into giant foam blocks supported by, of course, more trampolines! We would insert little breaks every now and then during which we would sit on the couches and review our pictures and videos from the night so far...him catching his breath and me resting my rapidly weakening knees.
I read I Love You the Purplest to him, and he loved that the Mom in the story was called Mama....just like me. After that, Caleb asked if I would tell him the story of Hansel and Gretel....not Papa's version, Hansel and Gretel the Two Cows...but the real version.
Then, as we turned out the light, Caleb said, "Mama, what was your favorite part of our date night? Mine was jumping on the trampolines."
"Mine was just being with you, Caleb" I said "...just being with you."