Last Friday Alfie and I went to San Francisco to watch the San Francisco Opera's performance of Mephistopheles. It was truly a magical night. Mephistopheles is Alfie's favorite opera; he has been waiting over 15 years for it to come back to the West Coast, so it was truly a Must-See. I'm not the world's biggest opera fan (the very first time Alfie invited me to the Opera, I tried to get out of it with the lame excuse of: "I have to do laundry". Alfie still can't believe we ended up together after that.), but I thought it was brilliant. The Opera House was beautiful, the production was lavish, the music was stirring. I enjoyed everything about that night -- and I enjoyed the opportunity to go on a date with my husband most of all.
A Date Night is a rare and precious thing for Alfie and me. We both recognize the need to spend time as a couple, but the grandparents are getting older, and don't visit as often, and our entertainment budget can only stretch so far. When faced with the prospect of a $15-$20 per hour babysitter, we always seem to come to the conclusion that we'd rather spend the money doing things as a family. After all, we get lots of couple time on the couch after the kids have gone to bed! No, not that, you perverts, I meant watching tv.
Once in a while, something does come up that we really, really want to go to, and for those occasions (once a year?) we splurge on a babysitter. More recently, we've had kind friends come to the rescue with offers to host our kids for late night playdates or sleepovers. Okay, to be honest, they're not strictly offers -- I shamelessly ask them for favors. I do feel guilty about doing it, but I'm always willing to return the favor (and I often do). We're lucky that our kids have friends with such nice parents, but I'm careful never to abuse their kindness, so when all is said and done, Alfie and I end up going on date nights about 3 or 4 times per year.
I have to admit, I'm looking forward to the day that our kids will be old enough to stay at home by themselves while Alfie and I treat ourselves to a date night. Although California does not have a legal minimum age to leave kids home alone, many developmental experts say (and the National Safe Kids Campaign recommends) that children under the age of 12 should not be left home alone. The Pea is 12 going on 13 -- but Alfie recently read a story about a 14 year-old who was kidnapped from her home at night; when he told me that I knew we'd have to wait a few more years!
But that's okay. It makes our date nights even more special, something to be cherished because we never know when we'll have our next one.
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