Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Dinner Date

I went on a date tonight with one of the most handsome, fun people I know . . . my seven year old.

He got to pick the restaurant. My children have never been ones to chose fast food or junk food over the prospect of going to a fancy, expensive, white tablecloth establishment. So we went to Bittersweet Cafe, complete with white tablecloths, candlelight, soft jazzy music, and other people on dates. Oh, they also have Wikki Sticks and crayons on the tables. My date was the shortest in the whole restaurant, but I must say he was certainly one of the more well behaved dates. He talked about interesting things: that nice restaurants should have a fish tank (he was convinced this one did but we couldn't find it). He had good manners: he used his salad fork to share a bite of my salad. He made a ukulele with the Wikki sticks and we took turns playing air-ukulele to the theme from Pink Panther playing softly in the restaurant.

He did not talk loudly on his cell phone as one of our fellow diners did. He was even amazingly diplomatic. As he tucked into his half order of baby back ribs, I stupidly asked, "Are those ribs better than the ones I make?" His answer: "Mom, these ribs are really good. Period." Wow, did he learn that from Dad?

Our neighbor, the cell phone guy, ordered a diet Coke and loudly slurped on the straw. My son, I am so proud of him, didn't even think of ordering a soda, instead sipping ice water. Ok, he did have a momentary lapse and tried to eat an ice cube off the table without using his hands. He is seven years old.

But as we finished our dinner and the other diners realized he wasn't going to throw food around or start screaming, they started giving us what I like to call the "cute look." My son did make a bit of a show with the warm towel brought to him after finishing off (!!) the ribs. He stood up, opened the towel, which was quiet large, and all of a sudden slapped it on his face and head, getting himself completely wet.

During dinner we talked and my son only had eyes for me. Unlike our neighbor, he wasn't trying to flirt with the waitress. He picked out dessert, exactly what I would have ordered, and we shared it. When the bill came, I handed it to him. He stared at me very wide-eyed, saying "I have to pay??"

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Closed Doors

We don't like closed doors in our house.

When one of my boys closes a door, he has something to hide. He is almost always doing something he is not supposed to be doing, something he knows can get him into trouble. How much privacy does a seven, or nine, or ten and a half year old boy need? Is there a difference between needing privacy and needing to be alone?

Our ancestors didn't have any concept of privacy. They lived together for protection and survival, and seeking privacy away from the others was something that was probably risky. They didn't live in large houses, with different spaces for sleeping, cooking, eating, greeting visitors, bathing, working. They lived in a cave and if they needed privacy, they had to leave the cave. I am guessing that when our ancestors left their cave, it was to get food or defend themselves. They probably had a lot more to worry about than their brother sitting too close to them or needing to change their underwear.

Needing to be alone I can understand. I certainly need to be alone sometimes, away from all the testosterone flying around my house. My boys need to be alone too, in varying degrees. I just don't believe they actually need privacy yet.

But what about when your ten year old son ignores the general open door policy and he and a friend are locked together in the closet? And the friend is a girl? And they say they are "just" talking? Hmmm . . . It reminds me that my son is growing up, and we have to explain that we just don't have closed doors in our house. At least not for him. Not yet.