Recently, my husband and I had the notion to have a parent/child “date” at least once a month, wherein one of us takes one of the twins out for some quality time. No movies or things that don’t require interaction, but something that would have the child feeling they’ve got Mama or Daddy completely focused on them.
From a couple of weekends ago we managed to get it done.
First I took Zanna, who’s recently been a little distant with me, while Halle paired up with Mike (my hubby), since she’s made it clear that she could do with a little more attention from him.
Zanna’s Adventure Day (both of the twins refer to our outings as “Adventures”)
We drove to a nearby largish stripmall, and she chattered away like a magpie, all the way there. I noticed a difference in her right away. Normally she has to fight to get a say, since she has to compete with her twin for Mama’s attention and earspace, but that day she was able to say as much as she liked without being squawked at by sister.
She talked about birds. Big ones, small ones, birds of every hue. Then she provided commentary on all the Christmas decorations she could see from the car and lamented that there were more on the other side of the car than on hers.
First we went to a local homeschool supply store. They’ve got a full-blown Chuggington train table laid out (even though the twins both ignored our own train table when we had it, they still LOVE playing with the ones we find in toystores), and Zanna made a bee-line for it, insisting that I play with her.
She soon realized that my train table skills are lacking and proceeded to show me the ropes in proper train table technique. She happily ran the trains thru the washing station, reprimanding them for having gotten muddy, then she refueled them, scolded me for running the cars off the tracks with my inept train-driving skills, and lovingly nestled each engine it it’s own little color-coordinated enginehouse room, while using different voices for each one. A number of homeschool parents were watching all of this with wide eyes.
“She’s so verbal!” one of them exclaimed in wonderment.
Then we moved on to the science section. My husband had requested that I try to find some kind of science experiment kit for the girls’ age range. So while Zanna played with a big ol’ huge magnet, I picked out some science gear for 4yr olds that didn’t seem to lend itself to being made into weapons of mass home-destruction.
Then it was off to the art supply store. Our mission was to find some easy to decorate Christmas thingys.
With those in hand we stopped by a snack shop for some healthy snacks, and then we were off to Starbucks.
Zanna had her kiddie-size cocoa along with some fresh fruit, peanut putter and yogurt and proceeded to decorate a wooden tree, while I sat next to her and attempted to teach myself how to crochet, as we chatted.
She had some questions about Stranger Etiquette (we’d been reading the Berenstain Bears book about strangers to the twins, as the twins are way too friendly with everyone they meet).
Sitting across the table from us, handily enough, were two strangers attempting to deal with a daunting stack of tax forms.
Zanna wondered aloud if they were Good Strangers or Bad Strangers. I told her that I didn’t know, but that she was safe as long as Mama and Daddy was with her. (I whispered a quiet ‘Nothing personal’ to the gentlement and they smiled understandingly.)
“What are the strangers doing?” she wanted to know. I explained that they were doing something called “taxes”, and that it wasn’t the politest thing to call strangers “Strangers” in public. We should refer to strangers as “Gentlemen” or “Ladies”
Well, by the time we finally got home, Zanna was much calmer and more affectionate. She seemed more confidant in her ability to get our attention without having to act out. So the “date” was a success!
Halle and my husband first went to a playground nearby for awhile, then they went for a walk in the neighborhood – my husband remarked later that she also was much calmer and more well-behaved than usual.
Then they went to a Chinese restaurant and in addition to her usual order of fried rice, Halle also had quite a bit of my husband’s Mongolian Beef (mild). Which is also unusual because she doesn’t ordinarily eat that much meat, and never beef.
Then the two of them went home.
Both the girls said that they wanted to do “Adventure Day” again!