We had a *girl* over for dinner last night.

She was Tucker’s Valentine last year, and she moved to a different time zone at the end of the school year, to everyone’s great sadness. When they decided to spend her winter break in Denver, Tuck landed an afternoon and evening on Her calendar.

It was a multi-destination afternoon and evening. First, frozen yogurt. Then Target, so he could experience her favorite store with her. Then dinner at our house.

Her mom and I agreed this is a NotDate, or an UnDate – or at most, perhaps a PreDate, the kind that’s appropriate for a PreTeen. It was somewhere between a PlayDate and a RealDate.

Peter says it was every ounce of a date. “Trish, it’s supervised and chaperoned with three different locations. Call it whatever you want. But it’s a date.”

He’s twelve. I’m not calling it that.

Besides, we made sure there was a little brother nearby at all times. Little brothers are good at breaking the awkward silences and keeping any real romantic feelings far at bay.

For our portion of the evening, we gave her a Red Plate dinner, complete with spaghetti and all the questions about her that we could fit into an appropriate dinner hour.

What’s your favorite movie?
(She likes action comedies. And she used the word ‘genre.’ And my heart pitter-pattered.)

What do you like to do on a day off?
(She likes to read.) (Pitter-patter.)

If you were designing a hotel, where would you build it and how would it be different from all the rest?
(She said it would have excellent room service. She’s my kind of gal.)

What do you miss about living in Denver?
(Please say a certain boy’s name.)

What do you predict will be your midlife crisis?
(I told you: you can count on the little brother for levity and awkwardness.)

They played Speak Out (the game where you say silly phrases while wearing basic orthodontia), they watched the Olympics, and when we drove her home, my tall boy walked her to the door. Awkward hugs, notwithstanding.

I think we nailed it.

(And so it begins.)

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