$10 Beer, Soda, Pinball, Ping-pong & Foosball at Fullsteam Brewery
$30 Lunch for two at Dame’s Chicken & Waffles
$30 for 2 haircuts at Rennaissance Barbershop
$45 for new youth dress shirt and holiday sweater
Spending an afternoon alone with the 7yo and letting him “drive” for a day: Priceless

I’ve been very aware lately that Whirlwind and I haven’t had much one on one time. Everything’s fine and life is good, but it’s just become apparent that with a 2yo sister and the pace of a modestly active family the boy and I just haven’t had any time to hang.

Everything is on a schedule. The few times where we haven’t been on a timeline, he’s had to share me with a fiercely determined younger sister who will not be denied. As a result, my attention has been too divided.
It seems to me, so I’m sure it must feel this way to Whirlwind, I’m always making him pause in telling his story to allow his sister to interrupt briefly. Or instead of just coming to his room alone to see his latest Lego or K’nex build on my own, I am toting his sister along, because it seemed easier at the moment than listening to her scream from the living room. Then  instead of being focused on the intricacies of what he’s constructed, I’m simply trying to keep Lil Bit from tearing it apart.

More than that, I feel like I’ve been too directive with Whirlwind lately. Barking orders on how to behave, where and when to be, what to wear, what to do, what not to do. I just felt like he’d probably appreciate the chance within reason to be in charge for a few hours.

So while Saturday morning was dedicated to Lil Bit, with daddy/daughter dance, bagels at Breugers and some knock around time (that’s a post all it’s own)…I resolved that this afternoon would be just for the boy.

Beyond that I resolved that as much as possible, I’d let him be in control. In my mind we had two things that had to happen, 1) Haircuts, 2) A visit to FullSteam Brewery.

I made the haircut appointments earlier in the week and had deliberately nested it in the heart of Lil Bit’s nap time, so I knew we’d get out of the house without her.

Fullsteam was an automatic cal and something of a make goodl. We were going to go as a family on Saturday night, but we had one of those days where when it was time to go, Erin and I both realized that our kids were not fit for public consumption. Parents, you know those days where every slightest infraction or perceived imposition on your kids results in screams that knock planes out of the sky? Yeah, it was that, with both of them. It just would not have been fair to inflict our kids on the rest of the world. So we bit the bullet took on the tears of a dinner promise rescinded and called off the family night out. It was salvaged with reasonable ease with a pay-per-view screening of Cars 2. A living room picnic dinner of various sliced fruits in front of the TV and copious amounts of popcorn.

And although Whirwind held it together at the time and didn’t cry about not going to Fullsteam on Saturday, I knew he was pretty deflated. He really enjoys Fullsteam. It’s an easy going place and very family friendly. The ping pong table, pinball machines and foosball are just too cool for a 7 yo to ignore.

I understand why too. I can remember when I was in elementary school and my father played rec league softball all Summer long. My brother and I used to LOVE hanging out after the games at whatever tavern sponsored the team, playing shuffleboard bowling, pinball and feeding the jukebox until my father and most of the team went broke! It always felt so grown up to be hanging out with the men! I wanted to give Whirlwind a bit of that in a ‘scaled down’ setting.

Today, there couldn’t have been more than 20 people at the brewery. That was a good thing becacuse the boy and I had that ping pong ball all over the bay! We both learned that real ping pong is a FAR cry from Wii Resort Ping Pong, and neither of us is very good at the real thing. After 3 matches on the ping-pong table, we switched to pinball. From there, on to Foosball. After running out of change, we realized that without a food truck stationed there we had no lunch options.

I put him in charge of picking our lunch destination as long as it was in the same general direction of the barber shop. He made his choice. I drove us over. He coordinated with the hostess for our table. He placed our orders for us, including and recommending a meal for me. The staff at Dame’s knows us and realized we were only running at half staff. They thought father/son day sounded pretty cool and were fantastic dealing with Whirlwind.

At the barber shop, I gave him psuedo-carte blanche. He stuck with his current style of close on the backs, sides and top, with longer bangs that he can spike up. He’s dying to permanently color his hair, but he’s been told he can’t do that until he’s grown up. But I see aerosol color in our very near future.

He picked his own dress shirt and sweater for the holidays at JCPenny. Individually, they’re great choices. They won’t work together, but we’ll work on coordinating ensembles somewhere in another lesson of how to be manly. 😉

By the time the afternoon was over, I saw a confidence in Whirlwind that I haven’t seen before. It’s obviously been there for some time, because that sort of presence doesn’t develop in a moment. Taking a step back and  observing as this young man interacted with the world at large, with assurance, courtesy, tact and humor was really rather stunning. At no point in the day did I need or even attempt to remind him to say, “please” or “thank you.” I never had to say, “tell the barber how you’d like your hair cut today.” I just stepped back and let him be in the world and he took the wheel and drove. Honestly, it was a treat to be along for the ride.

When we got home and went to cook dinner for the family, the lasagna I intended to prepare was scrapped. Primarily because I forgot to buy lasagna noodles at the store, and secondarily because Whirlwind requested we cook our traditional Sunday meal of pancakes for dinner. But he added a wrinkle. His school has an edible garden and they periodically cook in the classrooms. Recently they made sweet potato pancakes and sent home the recipe. So that’s what we did tonight. It was great to listen to him tell me why these were healthier and how good they were going to be.  So now our age old tradition has a uniquely Whirlwind twist to it. I’m really tickled that he’s added his own unique contribution to the process.

Yup, priceless.