Next Gen: Dates with my Boys

By Susanna Barbee | Feb 05, 2014

As Valentine’s Day nears, store shelves glow with pink and red heart-shaped boxes of candy and cards full of sweet sentiments. Many folks have a significant other on their mind, trying to decide how best to spend the day of love.

I remember one of the first Valentine’s dates I had with my husband. We ate dinner at Lulu’s on Main in downtown Sylva, and he gave me a beautiful necklace from a jewelry store in Waynesville. We hadn’t been dating very long, so the conversation was nonstop as we told our own stories and learned about one another. That evening seems like a long time ago, and I think of it fondly.

Through the years, we’ve had many eventful Valentine’s dates. I even remember one year when I was still teaching full-time, we chaperoned the Valentine’s dance at Waynesville Middle then ate at Wendy’s. It doesn’t sound very exciting, but we were together, and it actually ended up being a memorable evening.

Once our two boys came along, Valentine’s became less exciting as we had to find childcare and sometimes the big day fell on a week night, and we were just too tired to do anything. Nowadays, our date typically happens on the Friday or Saturday closest to February 14.

A date on Valentine ’s Day is a given, but what about the rest of the year? A date with your significant other is a given, but have you ever taken your child on a date?

When I was pregnant with our oldest little boy, another mom told me it’s important to take individual children on dates with one or both parents. It truly makes them feel special and for that one evening, they don’t have to battle for attention.

My husband and I started taking our oldest child on “dates” when he was around three-years old. Before I became pregnant with our second child, he was already the center of everyone’s world, so dates didn’t seem as necessary. When his little brother arrived on scene, however, dates became important as it allowed us to bond away from the chaos of family life.

“Dates” are different for each of us. I may take Brooks on a brunch date in Asheville whereas my husband may take him on a hike or fishing out at Camp Daniel Boone.

Our most recent date was lunch at Saki Sushi in Waynesville. My husband does not particularly enjoy sushi, and I love it, so I’m determined for one of my boys to be my sushi pal. Luckily, Brooks is off to a good start. He had a dentist appointment that day, so after his teeth were poked and prodded, we headed over to Saki Sushi.

We snacked on some edamame and miso soup while they prepared our sushi. Before this day, Brooks had never actually eaten sushi, just rice and soup.  On our date, he ate two pieces and liked it pretty well. Hey, it’s a start! Along with chowing down on some great food, we sat on the same side of the booth, giggled, took photos of ourselves eating, and were all around silly. It was wonderful.

Though we certainly spend alone time with our two-year old, I’m not so sure he realizes it’s an actual “date”. Soon though, he’ll be ready for a sushi date with me or a hiking date with Daddy, and if he doesn’t seem like he’s into either of those activities, we’ll find something he enjoys.

It’s funny how life comes full circle. I remember my dad taking me to the former Biltmore Dairy Bar restaurant (now TGI Fridays) after my orthodontist appointments. We would eat egg salad sandwiches and chips then finish off with a chocolate milkshake. Those lunches meant the world to me.

As adults, it’s easy to get caught up in the hectic hustle and bustle of our own agendas, and sometimes I have to literally force myself to slow down. I make it happen though because I know if I still remember a date with my dad 22 years later, then my boys will remember their dates with me.


Susanna Barbee is a Waynesville mom, writer and educator. Find more on her blog, Reach her at