Lunch is one of my favorite parenting tools.
A few years ago I discovered that, once a kid graduates from high school, you hardly ever see them anymore even if they're still living with you. We feel fortunate that, so far, all of our college-student kids have decided to attend a local school and live at home – but between classes and work, it felt as though the relationships were shifting from “family” to “landlords and tenants.”
Still, kids are supposed to become more independent during this time, and it's harder to do when they're living in their childhood bedrooms instead of away in a dorm somewhere. The line between “dependent” and “boarder” can get a little fuzzy on both sides; but I don't care how old they get, I still want my “kid fix!”
Thus was the idea of “Tea with Mom” born.
It started with Red. We're both artistic sorts, so when we realized that we never had any uninterrupted time anymore to talk about our works-in-progress we decided to form our own mini “Artist's Way” group and go out for coffee once a week. It turned out to be much more than that; this time became an oasis in both our lives, a time we could concentrate solely on each other and talk about what was going on in our lives.
It worked so well with Red that I asked Rocky (the other college student in the house at the time) if he wanted to try it. Rocky works hard to preserve his Fonzie persona, so I wasn't sure if he'd want to do anything as uncool as to go have coffee in public with his old stepmom, but he jumped at the chance. In fact, it was Rocky that upgraded “coffee” to “lunch.” We take turns picking up the check.
Now I look forward to these two dates all week. I've gotten to know both men far better than I ever would have otherwise, and they get to be with me as “two adults together” instead of “parent and child.” An unexpected bonus is that these young men-about-town have introduced me to fantastic restaurants I would never have known about otherwise.
Hey, you know what's cool about having little boys? If you're lucky and you work hard, they turn into smart, funny, gentle, articulate men.
I'd write more – but I have a lunch date!