We went out to dinner last night. We don’t usually, as a family. But we’d had a long fun day of potluck and kickball with friends. Max and Ben were the only kids at the party. As far as I could tell, everyone was generally childless (and unmarried).
No matter. Kind running friends addressed and engaged my children. And then, later, while C and I were in the kitchen with Ben, Max wandered into the now-empty living room (because all parties happen in the kitchen) and when I glanced in to check on him, he was chatting with a previously-seemingly-introverted guy about sports.
Yes. My six-year-old had just struck up a conversation with a grown-up and didn’t need us at all. I kept checking on them, but Max was holding his own and seemed quite confident and comfortable, and the guy was getting used to having a child talk to him and was responding. I mean, they were actually having a dialogue. This is the child who used to need me nearby at all times. I guess he’s gotten quite socially confident (and I am so proud of him).
Then we all headed to a nearby park for the kickball game. Max tossed a Frisbee with C and some other adults until the game got going (and have I mentioned C sometimes take the boys to a nearby pickup Frisbee game, so Max has some skills now?).
After the first inning, Max decided he wanted to pitch for our team, and no one minded. I did mention we were with a bunch of childless adults who probably aren’t used to being around kids, right? He pitched just fine, and he played just fine, and while some people were a little lenient with him, others had no problem tagging him out, and he did not mind at all. He loved every minute of it. (Ben, on the other hand, hadn’t worn proper socks and wanted to play on the playground and not be in the game at all. He kicked once and gave up. Maybe next year!)
So then we went home to warm up and read books until dinnertime, and we decided to go to the Kirkland Tap and Trotter for dinner. I love that place, even though I’ve only been there once. They know food. Yes, I met the chef/owner’s wife in a new-moms class years ago, and she’s wonderful, but I have no vested interest in this place except they know food, source it well, prepare it well, and are brave and confident and curious with it (the chef, Tony Maws, has another restaurant, too, Craigie on Main).
When you enter, there’s a hint of excellent beer in the air, and the scent of smoky pork (this could be due to the entire pig(s) they’d roasted or smoked the previous evening for their New Year’s Eve party, with Facebook photos of the before-oven pig).
It’s a comfortable place, with a big flat screen playing the Rose Bowl game, but the children sensed it was a Restaurant with a capital “R” and put their napkins in their laps as soon as I mentioned it. I didn’t order the grilled salmon head, which I’m dying to try, because I wasn’t in the mood. We tried the grilled oysters, though. I got a burger, which isn’t important except that Kirkland Tap is the only place in the entire world I trust to serve me a medium-rare (more rare than medium) burger.
So the kids are eating and watching the game and the marching bands come out. I tell them about how when I was a kid, I had to be in the high school marching band like my brothers, their uncles. And though their uncles played instruments, I didn’t like the clarinet—the instrument my parents had chosen for me—and I certainly didn’t like the clarinet teacher, so I quit clarinet lessons. But I still had to be in marching band, so I opted to be a majorette—a baton twirler. And, I told them, because I’d chosen it myself, I enjoyed it and was pretty good at it. I could spin the baton, toss it into the air while spinning below it, then catch it mid-spin and continue my routine.
They looked impressed. Then I pointed to the screen. “Look, guys, see the band marching in formation? They have play their instruments while marching backwards at an angle! And oh, here come the majorettes!”
They stared at the Florida University twirlers. Then Max asked, awed, “Did you wear your underwear and a sparkly bra when you were a majorette? Why aren’t they wearing clothes like the rest of the band?” I looked again at the screen. Crikey!
“No, honey,” I tried to explain. “I wore, uh, shorts and a long-sleeved top. But that’s a great question, why they don’t get to wear as much clothing.”
C jumped in to help. “They’re dancers, and they’re performing with their bodies. So they aren’t as covered up.”
The boys didn’t look convinced. But oh, hey, look, can we get the check, please? Thanks!