April 26, 2010

Birthday Date With Aedan

Having seven children means you need to take extra measures to make sure you have time with each one to really hear them and to make them feel special and like an important individual they are.  One of the ways we try to do this is scheduling dates with the kids.  We have had different methods for this over the years, varying by time and situation.  When all the children were young and we didn't have help with baby sitting, Allen took off a few hours one morning a week and we alternated turns taking one child out and staying at home with the others.  Dates could be breakfast at Starbucks, a walk in the park, putt-putt, a movie, or taking school to the library.

These days, whenever one of us has to go out to run errands, we always take one or two kids with us.  Even if we do nothing special, at the least it gives us time to just talk and visit and catch up without interruption.  Morning errands are usually dedicated to Samuel and Elisabeth since they can't afford to miss afternoon naps.  Afternoon errands fall to the middles. Evening expeditions are up for the big girls.  Not that it is written in stone, but those are the patterns we have sort of fallen into.

Every Monday evening, Kaitlin attends Bible class with us and then we have dinner together.  It has become a special time of becoming friends with our adult daughter and sharing conversation on a level that can often be difficult surrounded by a family of youngers. 

Now that the big girls can stay with the youngers, the kids get more opportunities to go out with both of us at the same time.  The one they look forward to all year is their birthday date.  The week of their birthday, they get to go out with us for dinner to any place they choose.  We use this time to take stock of the previous year, talk about the upcoming year, and evaluate their view of family life.  The children must always answer a series of several questions as we wait for dinner to arrive.  Yes, we even ask the littlest children, even though they usually just stare at us.  We want them each to know that we care about what is on their heart and that their thoughts and opinions are very important to us.

How's life treating you?  Are you happy with your situation?  How are things with your roommates? 
What can we do differently as parents to help you be more successful.  How is school going?  Is there anything special you would like to discuss.  We try to evaluate their walk with the Lord.  Prayer time and Bible study, of course, being high on the list of topics in that one.

Thursday evening, we took Aedan to Bone Fish Grill for his date.  We had a very enjoyable time and I was particularly tickled by his answers.  Our middle son just has a unique intellect for a child his age and one can never anticipate what delightful answer you may get when you ask him a question.

When we asked how things were working out with Sam's move to the boys' room he replied, "I like it well enough, except Sam talks a lot when we want to go to sleep."  I reminded him how he and Nathaniel can be good examples to him by kindly asking him to be quiet so they can go to sleep.  He said, "I remember that I used to talk a lot when I moved into the boy's room, too."

We were charmed by what he has remembered from his manner training, when his salad came and he was trying to assess which fork to use since neither was a true salad fork.  It was amusing to watch him try to politely work his way out of the predicament I left him in when I gave him a bite of my salad to taste.  I suppose it was too big a piece because it ended up hanging out of his mouth.  Which, would normally get a word about good manners but it looked so funny and he was trying so hard to be a gentleman that we had to laugh again.  And Pa snapped this picture with his blackberry.    

He and Allen shared the fish and chips because it is enormous and a favorite of both my men.  After finishing his portion of fries there was still some ketchup left in the sauce cup.  He asked for more fries to go with his ketchup.  Which, completely cracked me up.

But the best of all was when his dessert arrived.  At home when we serve ice cream we serve it in sauce cups about the size his ketchup came in.  So when his ice cream scoop came you can understand why his eyes grew to the size of the soup cup they served it in.  When he gave his order to the waitress and she said it was Blue Bell ice cream we couldn't resist telling him this little story about our Pastor.  Blue Bell is the favorite ice cream of he and his bride.  Years ago, when they were in Texas and came across his very favorite ice cream, they bought a number of gallons, packed it on dry ice and drove across the country with it.  We told Aedan about the night we were invited to the parsonage for dessert.  After all that build up, when his ice cream arrived, and the initial shock of the portion wore off, he took a taste and said, "It tastes like vanilla to me."  Ha.

You would think it couldn't get better than that, except that he could not finish that big bowl.  In our house, if one does not finish anything to eat, you can bet there is someone else just waiting to have their share.  Aedan kept looking at the bowl and then looking around the table to see who would take it.  Then he would sigh and look at the bowl again and take a tentative bite.  When we realized the cause of his worry, I explained that he could just leave it on the table if he didn't want to eat it.  The relief in his voice as he let out one last sigh and uttered, "Thank you," was like the cherry atop the sundae of a lovely evening with our quickly growing man. 



  1. What a wonderful family tradition. Your family inspires me so!

  2. "Blue Bell, the best ice cream in the country."
    I remember the tune on the commercial from when I lived in Texas.

  3. In our family, my parents take each child out on a date on their half-birthday. It gives us something to look forward to, and makes half-birthdays really fun :) Also, we end up being so crazy around someone's birthday that it's hard to do the date and juggle the other festivities. So we've found half-birthdays are easier to schedule for. :)