Last night I took Brendan to a hockey game with me. He was so excited that it was just going to be him and I, and that none of his siblings got to tag along. While I don’t mind having multiple kids with me I agreed with his sentiment, it was very nice to have some quality time alone with my oldest child.
We started the evening out with dinner at Don and Millies. Brendan’s first question was whether he was allowed to order the adult meal or if he had to get a kids meal. This is a question that is extremely important to him at any restaurant. Within the past year we found that after ordering the 6 piece chicken nugget meal, or the single cheeseburger kids meal that Brendan would still be starving, and w0uld devour any food that his siblings or parents didn’t finish. So, at fast food restaurants where the adult menu is usually just a super sized version of the kids meal, we’ve allowed him to start ordering the adult meal. We did explain to him that this meant he would no longer get a toy with his meal, but as he had only discovered that a toy automatically came with the meal a few months prior to this decision, he was fine going without it again.
A side story for those who aren’t aware of my stance on fast food toys. They are junk, they break easily or are just pieces of garbage. So I never told my kids that there was a toy in their kids meal. I always unpacked the food myself and left the toy in the box or bag. They never saw it, so they didn’t know it was there. Then I threw it away at the end of the meal. Those few times they got the toy with their meal, such as when someone else took them out to eat, they assumed that person had bought the toy seperately and didn’t understand it to be an automatic thing. It wasn’t until Brendan was in second grade that some of his friends told him over lunch that the toy was automatic and then he finally started asking for it. Lucky for me, there wasn’t much time in there that he did and Cameron has stopped asking for them again.
Anyway, back to our date night. So, we had our dinner and Brendan was so excited to order his adult cheeseburger and onion rings. He had no problems at all eating all of his dinner. In fact I think if he’d had more food he could have cleaned that up too. It was the best conversation I’ve had with Brendan in a long time. I love him dearly, but there are times where having a prolonged conversation with him can completely drain me. He’s always struggled with social interactions, and his special ed team has been working with him on proper conversation ediquette for years. It felt like their hard work finally paid off. He and I talked all about hockey and Harry Potter, two interests that he and I are both very passionate about. I really could have sat there with him all night and kept chatting, but it was time to move on to the hockey game.
We arrived at the arena and as we got out of the car, Brendan reached out and took my hand. It was so sweet. He’s old enough now, that we never require him to hold our hands in parking lots or crowded areas. He’s proven to us time and again that he won’t get separated from us, or run unexpectedly into traffic, so to have him take my hand was unusual and very welcome. For a moment I thought he may have done it because he felt scared or overwhelmed, but as we walked I realized he was enjoying his evening out with me as much as I was with him. So we just wandered the arena for a while holding hands and taking in the sights. There was a lot to explore for us as this is a brand new arena and this was only the third time the team had played there. One of the places we wandered to was the merchandise stand, and Brendan was rewarded with two new hockey sweatshirts. Okay, not really rewarded. He’d outgrown his old ones and I decided to replace them that night. It just seemed so fitting since it felt to him like a reward for his great behavior that night.
We got down to our seats about 15 minutes before the game started, and I’ve never seen Brendan so anxious for it to begin. He and I had a discussion earlier in the week about going to the game with me. Both boys constantly begged to be allowed to go to games last season, and each usually got to go about once a month or so. I didn’t take them more frequently because despite being adamant that they loved hockey and were dying to go, they would never watch the game. They’d want to bring toys to play with or climb around the seats, or just whine that they were bored. This year (prior to me deciding to stay at home) I’d bought a second season ticket so I could take the boys with me more regularly, figuring I could easily sell the ticket for those games that they didn’t attend. So when Brendan and I talked I explained to him that my expectation was that if he wanted to go on a regular basis and be a true “season ticket holder” that he had to actually go to watch the hockey game, and that I wouldn’t bring along anything for him to play with anymore. I also told him that if all he did was whine during the games or not pay attention to the game that I’d just sell his ticket and he could stay home. Well, our discussion must have really hit home, because he was more attentive than I’ve ever seen him at a hockey game, and he peppered me with questions throughout the game about the rules and they players. I will admit that his attention did wane during the last few minutes of each period, but a quick stroll through the concourse between periods perked him right back up and he was ready for more hockey.
The game ended, and I usually wait for the team to come out and sign autographs after the game, but knowing we had a long day ahead of us on Saturday we skipped that and headed straight out to the car. Brendan was still as talkative as ever as we drove through the parking lot, but I could tell he was really starting to fade. With him in such good spirits, and coming off an extraordinary night with him I made one final request. I knew Saturday was going to be a tough day for him since we had so much to do, and I knew he was going to bed close to three hours past his bedtime which can have a tendency to make him grouchy the next day. I asked him to please remember how much fun he had on our date, and to try his very best to have a good day on Saturday. To keep his grumpies to a minimum, and get through the day the best he could.
And he did. He was in a great mood today. He was helpful, and courteous, and everything I could ask for out of my 8 year old. If only every day could be like this, I would be in heaven.