I’m in my last year of having a little one at home (though little is a relative term for my son, who has never been small). Finn attends preschool only 3 mornings a week, I have a sitter for about 5 or 6 more hours, and the rest of the time, we do important 5-year-old things, like Lego, and Indiana Jones, and playing in the park, or taking short day trips, or reading, or napping, or building, or planting, or cooking. We have a lot of unstructured play time. We talk a lot. He plays alone a lot. Some days, we stay in our pajamas until 10 am. It’s been a terrific time, with just the two of us, and while he is endlessly excited about starting kindergarten at the big school, and I am looking forward to to more time for my work, I’m also sad to see these lovely years end.
One of the most tangible things we do, on occasion, is go out to lunch, just the two of us, some place local and casual. I’ll pick him up from school, we’ll run an errand, we’ll find a place to eat. He usually has a say in what we eat and where. Sometimes we go to a terrific little breakfast/lunch spot in town because they give the kids wikistiks. (Also the food is good.)
Another time, we found a hot pretzel on an SF trip, before we spontaneously decided to wander into Chinatown. We came home with some great almond cookies.
And last week, he was dead set on grilled cheese, which we found in a little lunch shop, where we were able to eat outside in the middle of a street art fair.
Surprisingly, the Lays chips he chose were a lot healthier (less fat, less salt, more vitamins) then mine, a fact which still makes him laugh.
He got his grilled cheese. I got a terrific turkey club. We both had Italian sodas. He was sweet and grateful. We sat in the sun and ate and chatted about things, like whether or not we liked the paintings lining the street, why his dad is famous for his kidtinis, whether or not that plane flying overhead was a jet plane or not, the plans in his head for his new Lego construction. It was an easy, joyful meal. My son is growing up. Fast. But that also means that we can enjoy being together in surprising new ways. I love his company more than ever, and most of the time, he still enjoys mine. A little pause for lunch together, alone, in the middle of the day, with a little bit of good, easy food, is a simple way to enjoy each other’s company on our own terms. An easy, affordable meal out with your child lets you be together without distraction, without the burden of preparation or clean up, without interruption. It makes you pay attention.