"Mom," he tells me, pulling on his jacket, dragging his backpack like a too heavy sack of potatoes out the front door. "I think it's time you and me went on a date." His face brightens on the word "date," highlighting the scandal of such a grownup idea as well as the promise.
I feel myself melting and flash forward to all the lucky girls who will catch his eye years from now. "Absolutely," I tell him, asking where he wants to go.
"The original," he tells me, but I know he means 'the regular'--our favorite pizza place. What can I do but smile?
It wasn't until my chatterbox firstborn was off to pre-school that I realized my darling second born was hardly saying a word. I instituted mother/son dates as a way to coax him out of his shell, to give him a safe space to try out his words, to make the space for conversation that could never happen when our tiny apartment was teaming with neighbors and friends and family, each eager to fill the airwaves with their own commentary.
We started with small talk. What's your favorite color? I'd ask, and before long he reciprocated by asking what was mine. What's your favorite animal? he'd counter while I made up a new answer every time. It was the very beginning of a great conversation.
Now, so many years into our pizza dates, I know that for every secret shared, there will be a fart joke as prelude. And for every point of discussion that interests me deeply, there will be equal time given to talking about the latest intricacies of this or that video game. It's all part of loving a boy in my house, and I'm enjoying the fact that in all our shared silliness, I can see all the ways he's growing up without needing to grow away.
At least not yet, anyway. And that, my friends, is making this mama, very, very happy.
Do you have something special you do with your son? A ritual you both can't bear to miss? Share your point of connection in the comments below.