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Can holiday be romantic with kids afoot?

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Once you have kids, Valentine's Day is never quite the same.

Valentine's Day is very different now that we're a family rather than a couple. With each year, as the kids get older, there is always a new adventure. Sometimes adventure and romance are hard to tell apart.

During most of our married years, my husband and I have spent Valentine's Day at home. That was mainly because it's hard to get dinner reservations when you don't know what time your husband will be home from work. I don't think the person taking the reservations would appreciate a phone call like this: "I want to make reservations for tonight but I'm not sure when we'll be there. As soon as my husband leaves the office, I'II call you and you can put us down for two hours from that time. You had better check the news for a traffic report, though. If they report that the buses or trains are running late, you'll need to add half an hour to that time."

My daughter is full of ideas on exactly how a romantic dinner is supposed to be. After seeing how I messed up something as simple as garlic bread last year, she decided I needed help. Her first order was, "You can't eat on a bare table for Valentine's Day. You need the fancy tablecloth!"

She left the room and I heard loud noises from the other end of the house. She came back with her arms full of essentials - a fancy tablecloth, cloth napkins that I didn't even know we owned, candles with fancy holders, and the good dishes that belonged to my grandmother. I never saw a table set so quickly.

When I heard her whispering to her brother, I started worrying. The only time the two of them get along is when they're plotting something. Dinner was ready and keeping warm in the oven. All I had to do was wait for my husband to arrive home from work, which would be within the next 10 minutes. Any time I tried to see what the kids were up to, they chased me away. As soon as they heard the front door, both of them came running into the kitchen to give me orders. "You're not allowed to do anything. We are going to serve you both."

First, they had to light the candles and open a bottle of wine. As a bonus gift, rather than fighting over who got to do what, they apparently worked out a fair arrangement between them. My daughter came over with one of those long lighters that we use for the barbecue. She pulled the trigger on the lighter and a 6-foot-long flame shot out of it. Fortunately, nothing other than the candle was in its path.

The wine bottle was next on their list. Our son had never used a corkscrew before but refused to allow us to assist. I was able to find a corkscrew that wasn't too difficult to handle. It had nice little levers to pull the cork out rather than needing to engage in a tug of war with the cork.

Serving the food was fairly uneventful. They left us alone to eat, but instructed us that if we wanted second helpings, we were not allowed to serve ourselves. Their first helpings were so big that it was doubtful we'd even make it through that, let alone have seconds.

After we were done, I tried to convince the kids that they should clear the plates and wash everything if they really wanted to make this a romantic dinner.

There was no reply.

After a few minutes, though, we heard Diana Ross and Lionel Richie singing Endless Love from the living room. Then we heard, "Excuse me, but isn't this someone's wedding song? Don't you think you should be dancing right now?"

Who says having kids takes out the romance from a marriage?

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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