I took Rowan out for dinner at Swiss Chalet a few weeks ago. No special occasion, just “us.” I got this idea that we could start a family tradition: every couple of months, one mom would take one boy out for dinner. It would be a chance to bond, to catch up, to create special memories over chicken and ribs and dipping sauce. I imagined my boys as surly teenagers, being drawn out into meaningful conversations over such meals. I imagined Rowan and Isaac as grown-ups, looking back on a childhood full of these special evenings out, basking in the undivided attention of one parent. That was special, I imagined them thinking. What great parents. Aw.

So, we’re at our booth, and I’m all like: Conversation! And Rowan is all like: Why did the waiter tell us his name and where is he and why is our food taking so long to come and maybe I’ll just slide under the table here for a while and are they going to bring around that treasure chest with toys in it and why is food taking so long to come? And I’m all like: Bonding! And Rowan is all like: completing the word search on the children’s menu and standing on his bench seat to see what other people are eating and pretending to fall asleep and bellowing our waiter’s name across the restaurant to find out where our food is. And I’m all like: Undivided attention! And isn’t the dipping sauce good? And Rowan is all like: Do I get dessert and the treasure chest? And that sauce is too hot and it burned my mouth.

And I’m thinking that I didn’t communicate my vision so clearly. So finally I say, “Isn’t it nice to go out for dinner, just the two of us? It’s fun to be able to hang out and talk.”

And he’s all like: I just wanted to come to a restaurant. I didn’t know there would have to be talking.

And I’m all like: Can I have a bite of your sundae?

And he’s all like: Sure.