Date Night


On Friday night, with warm milk in one hand and Calpol in the other, I BEGGED my son to go to sleep. With my eyes twitching, in a moment of sheer desperation, I stupidly went one step further and promised that we'd go on an adventure the next day. Of course he slept like a log the rest of the night, probably only rolling over every so often to whisper the word 'adventure' and cuddle the stick he found on the roadside 2 weeks ago that seems to come everywhere with us now and would no doubt come on the adventure too.

The next morning Reubs appeared at my bedside naked, wearing only his ridiculous baseball cap and sporting his backpack filled with dinosaurs, cars, and a plastic cucumber incase he got peckish. But as well intentioned as I was, and as much as I really wanted to see the massive grin on Reuben's face as we adventured (for all he knew the adventure would be to Asda bless him), I'd had the exhausting week from exam hell and I wanted to see the inside of my bedcovers so much more. I'd hoped that he'd forget my promise and settle for a movie day, but quicker than I could say '5 more minutes please mummy feels like death', he bellowed in my ear, 'CAN WE GO ON OUR ADVENTURE NOW?'.

We passed the morning/postponed the adventure by making breakfast, playing the 'you throw the football and I'll catch it from the sofa' game and heading on the traditional Saturday morning walk down the picturesque Donegal Road to the shop for freshly baked cookies (they're most definitely not freshly baked but it makes for a better blog post and we like them crispy anyway). And by some beautiful miracle, by 1 pm we'd both fallen asleep at either end of the sofa (if you've tried my sofa then you can imagine how glorious this was - and if you haven't then just take my word for it or come over for a cuppa).

The soundtrack of Ice-Age softly danced in the background and every so often we'd both deliriously open our eyes, squint at one another across the sofa, and either pull the blanket off the other or roll over and go back to sleep. Eventually, I began to wake up and thought to myself, 'This sleep has been way too good, way too satisfying, and way too long' and realised to my horror, that is was five o'clock. FIVE FLIPPING O'CLOCK! (I know the exact timings because I left the oven on the whole time - please don't kill me, Mum). I shook Reuben awake, part of me terrified that he was genuinely unconscious/dead but he popped straight up in his seat and exclaimed, 'Are we going on our adventure after our nap?!'...and I realised the only thing I needed to be terrified of was the prospect of Reubs bouncing off the walls the rest of the evening.

The glorious view from my end of the sofa.
Claustrophobia setting in, I informed him we were going on a date and he needed to ditch the baseball cap to impress me, to which he replied, 'I love my hat more than anything, Mum'. Thanks, son. We headed to Camile, the only place apart from McDonald's where I can guarantee Reuben will scrape his plate clean. I know, I know. It's a Thai restaurant and I know Reuben is a 3 year old who usually lives on a diet of fish fingers, and I know it's utterly ridiculous that he loves it but whatever they put in their kids crispy chilli chicken (probably crushed up paw patrol dogs or something), Reubs goes crazy for it and that's okay with me - a girl's gotta be wined and dined by someone!

Apart from his constant shouting so every other table could hear our conversation about noodle-worms (he inherited my lack of indoor voice), his wails of terror when I blew the candle out to stop him from setting his hair on fire, and his 5 and a half trips to the toilet, we had a pretty great dinner. He poured my coke for me and asked the table beside us if they wanted some, he excitedly told me what he'd gotten up to with Edward at creche all week, he told me my lips looked like crayon, and before we ate he prayed, 'Thank you God that we are going on an adventure and thank you for Mummy and Reuben and thank you for chicken. Amen'. I absolutely inhaled the Pad Thai (as I write this I've just inhaled the leftovers too and I absolutely love myself for leaving some - honestly, if it was biblical I would marry Pad Thai) and for the last half an hour I shoveled rice into Reuben's mouth every time he took a breath from talking about playing football with James and Jack at youth club and retelling the full bedtime story Hazel had read to him the night before (whilst completely disregarding any story I've ever read to him but I'm not bitter).

Of course, wining and dining (drinking coke and slurping noodles) isn't exactly a 3-year-old's idea of adventure so we headed to Crawfordsburn for a foresty/beachy walk and my heart is still soaring at the sight of a wild Reuben in his natural habitat, galavanting down hills and rolling around in sand like a stray, untrained dog. We silently eyed up and challenged the teenage couple next to us at skimming stones and then un-silently ruined their cute, coupley moment as I screamed at Reuben for splashing me with freezing, disease-filled lough-water. If ever there was a moment when I felt like a very old, dweeby, and uncool mum then that was it. I felt like defending myself against their distasteful glares and screaming, 'I'm sorry. I'm only 22. I promise I don't mean to ruin your fun and romantic moments!!!'.

I started to notice a storm a-brewing (it wasn't actually a storm but again, it makes a better blog post, doesn't it?) so I edged myself closer to the embankment, whilst Reuben edged himself closer to the sea again. I stood watching him for a while (being too lazy to walk back to get him) and wondering what was going on in his little head and thanking God for the crazy-amazing child he entrusted me with - for better or for worse. Sure, I was right about the rain and we got drenched, probably because we had to stop half way for Reubs to pee in a bush and I had to co-operate with him on where he aimed (we haven't done the peeing-outside-thing very much), but he certainly got his adventure, picking up a brand new stick on the way.

After a very soggy dash around Tesco's, we ended date night with smores and more cuddles back on the beloved sofa (with a lot less sleeping this time).

N.B. Before anyone calls the NSPCC, do not fear - I very quickly realised that this was a very inefficient methodology (you know it's exam season when you use words like methodology) for making indoor-smores and I ended up sticking them on a dish in the oven. But if you can't go all out on date night then when can you?!