You’re Right Up My Alley

Pre-parent-me found the phrase “date your kids” horrifying. The sentiment is sweet, the wording is creepy.

Parent-me totally dates the crap out of my kids.

Parent-me disappoints pre-parent-me in lots of areas, now that I think about it. Like the atrocity that is my vocal cords trying to make my infant smile. Or like the amount of times I say “silly” in a given day. What grown adult says “silly”? A parent, that’s who.

What are we even talking about?

Dating your children. Yes.

So, Saturday, I had a surprise dinner-and-bowling date planned for Beckett. Instead of just telling him our plan, I wanted to “put an exclamation point on the memory” (a fabulous bit of wisdom from a dear friend), so we loaded a few canned vegetables on the kitchen island and had the boys pick out their dinner.

They had a choice of sliced jalapeños, “very young small” sweet peas, roasted corn, or diced chiles.

All intentionally horrible options, to make my “FORGET THIS, LET’S GET PIZZA” surprise announcement all the more exciting.

Taylor and I carried the joke pretty far. Like, far enough that we opened the can, inserted a spoon, and stuck it on the table in front of the boys.

“Dig in!” we said, snickering to each other over their heads. I was going to exclamation point the heck out of this memory. (!!!)

Minor setback: guess who suddenly and inexplicably loves very young small sweet peas?

Beckett.

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Beckett does.

A fact we didn’t realize until I tried to tear him away from his cold, slimy dinner.

Me: Ewwww. Forget this! Put that spoon down. Let’s go get some yummy food!
Beckett: But I like peas.
Me: No way. Gross. Peas are gross.
Beckett: I thought they were pretty good.
Me: Vegetables are dumb. Let’s eat junk food. Whaddya say?!
(Because apparently I’m willing to sacrifice every health truth I’ve ever told them for one second of unbridled joy.)
Beckett: Well. I guess they did taste a little funny. But I still kinda liked them.
Me: That’s the spirit! Let’s go!

He was equally as un-enthused when we pulled up to the bowling alley.

Me: HOW FUN IS THIS!! BOWLING!!!
Beckett: Yeah. Cool.
Me: ISN’T THIS THE BEST MEMORY OF ALL TIME??
Beckett: What?
Me: Nothing.

I haven’t been to a bowling alley in probably a decade.

Did you know that the ratio of patrons in cartoon-themed shirts to patrons in non-cartoon-themed shirts is like 15:1? Maybe that’s not the case everywhere, but it certainly was at ours. Fascinating.

We got our shoes, picked out our bowling balls, and settled in our lane.

He was actually getting excited.

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I explained the rules, practiced some swings with him, and we started our first game.

In hindsight, I probably should have talked about the black line a little bit more.

Because on his first ever roll, during his first ever time to bowl, he ran past the line. And his feet immediately flew out from under him. And he smacked the back of his head on the lane with a loud thunk.

He was equal parts mortified and concussed.

A few things:

  1. He got a strike. (Which is more than I get with my feet firmly planted on the ground.)
  2. He insisted I bowl both of our turns for the next 4 frames.

(Turns out bowling solo while your date sits with arms crossed at that uncomfortably small connected swinging-chair-table thing isn’t the most fun either of you will ever have.)

The date ended up being a success, mostly due to the purchase of a giant concession stand pretzel served with a side of radioactive cheese product.

And the added use of this kid-bowling-ramp thing.

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I guess it was also due, in some part, to the imbibing young adults seated next to us. Their increasingly loud encouragement went a long way in rebuilding Beckett’s confidence. Shoutout to them and their beautiful partnership with Bud Light.

Dating your kids is a lot like dating other people. Sometimes you’ll have good dates, sometimes they’re painful. Sometimes your night goes exactly as planned, sometimes it’s forced. Sometimes the date ends in smiles, sometimes you look your leather-jacketed, grandmother’s-convertible-borrowing date in eyes and offer a solid handshake in lieu of a kiss. (No? Just me?)

The great thing about your kids, though, is that you will never tire of taking them out. You just pray the concussion fogs enough of their memory to say yes the next time.

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