When I turned 16, I got my first job waitressing at an ice cream and sandwich shop. (A shout-out to all you lovers of the Fribble.)
I remember a mother and daughter whom I served once a week. The little girl was disabled on many levels, so it's hard to know how old she was, but she was wheelchair bound and couldn't raise her head to make eye contact with her mom. Still, once a week, her mom brought her to Friendly's for an ice cream sundae.
She talked to her daughter who never talked back. She fed her daughter who never responded to the taste and coldness of the ice cream. She brought her on this weekly date, just the two of them.
And now I think I understand this better. That mom just wanted to go out for ice cream. She wanted to pretend like this is normal, like it was all okay, like it's just what she intended for her life.
So, please, maybe don't ask my kids to put away their video games if you see us out for dinner. For now they're sitting quietly, and we're having dinner together, even if we're not talking our way through the meal. Even if it doesn't look like a quality experience.
I thought we'd have more dinner conversation. We will. Add it to the someday list.
For now, I'm pretending this is just what I had in mind.