FEATURE — Two weeks ago, my husband and I celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary a little unusually: with each of us on a different continent.
He was in England at a music festival with some friends, and I was back home in Utah.
Before anyone mistakes him as a complete jerk, I planned his trip. It was a gift for his 50th birthday. Last year, I planned a similar birthday trip for myself and some girlfriends. We left town on my 15th wedding anniversary.
All is fair in love and travel. Especially when the date marking the love is right in that “end-of-summer one last little hurrah” time of year.
But I still wanted to mark the day somehow. So I had a note and a little gift delivered to my husband in his white canvas tent in the English countryside, and then I took two of my three boys out to dinner for an anniversary date.
I joked that since they are each half their father, having both of them at dinner would be kind of like having one whole husband with me.
My 8-year-old saw my tongue-and-cheek and raised it well above the eyebrow.
He got in the car with glorious bedhead – at 6 p.m. Surveying him I said, “Just so you know, people usually brush their hair when they go out on a date.”
His quick retort: “But I’m only half your date. I’ll be the bad half.”
The evening went uphill from there. He wasn’t the bad half he’d teased.
Instead, over Greek mac and cheese and an heirloom tomato and feta salad, we talked about the qualities both of my “half dates” want in a mate.
The 11-year-old had some standard wants:
- Good sense of humor.
- Someone who can listen (because he likes to talk).
He had a few less than standard ones, too:
- Someone who takes showers, but not too many showers.
- Someone who doesn’t spend money on a bunch of useless stuff.
- Someone who is an animal lover.
He was gracious enough to allow the condition that his mate doesn’t need to love every single animal on earth. Like yaks, for instance. Because who likes yaks?
The 8-year-old concurred about the kindness and animal loving and good sense of humor. But he had two other important requirements among several other thoughtful items; he said he wanted someone with good taste in music and “she’ll need to know how to French kiss because I might want to do that.”
I almost spit out my water all over the fancy white tablecloth.
As I write this, I want to pretend my 8-year-old wasn’t talking about French kissing. He’s not allowed to think about that until he’s 20 – 20, I say!
Even still, it does highlight that even an 8-year-old understands, at a basic level, there is physical interplay in romantic relationships.
But it has to be in context with all of the other stuff: humor, kindness, respect and of course, no yaks. Physical interplay has to be in the context of a loving relationship.
We seem to be missing that context these days.
Nationally and locally, reports keep surfacing about men who, at best, don’t seem to understand this. From famed “60 Minute” producers to beloved Salt Lake Tribune columnists.
I love that my little boy “might want to do [French kissing]” with his mate when he’s older (again, I’m pushing for 20!), but between now and then, we are going to have many more conversations about context for that kind of thing. And keep building the other components of his list.
Kat Dayton is a columnist for St. George News, any opinions given are her own and not representative of St. George News.
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