My 5-year old son, James, recently took me on a date. I decided it was about time that he learned, in my opinion, the proper way to treat someone he likes.
James has been quite the lady’s man for years now. Probably ever since he was walking, he has been in love with various girls from movies (Elsa was his first), play groups, church and now preschool. He apparently even had a pretend wedding ceremony with one girl during the first month of preschool. I wasn’t invited.
I love that my son feels so passionately and talks so openly about his feelings. I also realize, however, that as he gets older and is interacting with these girls he’s head over heels for, he needs to learn to treat them right. If I were one of their mothers, I would want my daughter to be respected and treated nicely by her little infatuated boyfriend. So I decided some “practice dates” were in order.
I’ve seen friends post on social media adorable pictures of them on dates with their sons. And honestly, it’s probably more for us moms than for our sons — with all the likes and heart emoji’s of the pictures with their 8-year-old sons at the movies, or drinking milkshakes with their (probably embarrassed) 13-year-olds. I certainly love to show off how cute my kids are to the Facebook world, but this was truly something I wanted to do with my son for the sake of teaching him a life lesson that will hopefully stick.
So on the way to drop off his brother at preschool one day, I brought up the idea of James taking me on a date. He had heard my husband and I talk about our dates as teenagers, so he knew what the word meant. I explained, though, that this would be a pretend date where I could show James the right things to do with someone you like. Of course he started throwing out fabulous date ideas like a trip to Chuck-E-Cheese, the indoor bounce house place or a visit to the LEGO store. I had to remind him, a few times, that usually a date is somewhere that both people enjoy, not just the places he likes to go. So when I asked him where he thought Mommy would like to go on a date, he quickly replied “Ughhh…probably the coffee place.” I felt satisfied that he’d at least learned one important lesson about dating — know their likes and dislikes.
For our first date we compromised and headed to breakfast at Panera Bread for what we affectionately dubbed “a bagel date.” I had my coffee, he had his bagel, we both were happy. He suggested we sit next to the fake fireplace because it was “cozy.” I showed him how to pull out the chair for me and help me take off my jacket.
We proceeded to while away the morning pretending to not know anything about each other. I would ask him questions, he would ask me some. I tried to keep my excitement in check as he opened up and shared things with me that I didn’t even know. At one point, he offered to buy me a muffin because I suggested that on a first date, it’s nice when the guy offers to pay for some things (call me old fashioned). I watched proudly from the table as he walked up to the cashier by himself and bought me a muffin. The woman at the register gave me a thumbs up as he trotted back to the table.
I think the highlight of the “date” was when James asked me, “so Mom, is it okay to tell jokes on a date?” We then spent the rest of the time cracking corny jokes and laughing till our sides hurt. It was an awesome time and since then, we’ve gone on a few more bagel dates. We have big plans to do a bowling date, movie date and miniature golf date too. I can’t wait. Because let’s face it mamas, before we know it, they really will be going on dates, and we’ll be hoping that they’ve learned more from us than from the world on how to treat others.
Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 5-year-old James and 3-year-old Luke.