Almost every Friday, my daughter and I have our Fri-Date. It’s not about having the time or needing something to celebrate. It’s a must. I fetch her from school and, depending on where the date’s going to be, either go straight there or pop home very quickly to change. In fact, I sometimes pack her spare clothes beforehand so that she can change in the car – it’s all part of the excitement. There’s no stalling. No last-minute checking of emails or grabbing a quick bite. It’s all about the date.
Fortunately, my child likes the vibe of coffee shops, so I don’t have to get too creative. And that’s not what Fri-Dates are about. All they’re about is talking. And cake.
We sit for at least an hour without phones or iPads or homework or Lego. We just sit and talk. When we’ve run out of things to talk about, we play games. And this is where things often get very interesting because I choose games that will draw her out. We usually play quizzes, where she has to answer the first thing that comes into her mind when I ask her questions like:
- What makes you scared?
- When do you feel happiest?
- What are you good at?
- How do you want to improve?
- What’s your focus for the next month?
She loves these games; partly because she LOVES talking, and partly because she knows she gets to ask me the same questions afterward. Sometimes, I give her silly answers that make her laugh and other times I share something really personal and she feels closer to me for knowing it.
We occasionally also play word games, where we can be as ridiculous as we like.
Although normal home issues may come up in conversation and we’ll chat about them briefly (homework, keeping her room tidy, etc…), Fri-Dates are not about this. So, I try to keep those discussions (which easily turn into “How many times do I need to tell you”) at bay.
Many times, I wonder how necessary this quality time is. I mean, I’m at home in the afternoon and I spend loads of time with her. But then, every week, when we pass a coffee shop or mention an issue she’s having with a girl at school, she casually adds a quick, “I can’t wait for our date.” And neither can I.