I had at date with Madison on Saturday night because Lynnette went to watch 50 Shades of I Want My Money Back with a friend. I meant to write about it then but we got home late. Then Sunday rolled around and Wrestlemania came along with it, so there that went. Better late than never, I suppose, especially because I never get tired of telling you about my adventures with Mad.
Lynnette and I have never given Madison a quarter to use in the purchase of a bouncing ball from Old Navy. On Date Night, however, my biggish girl brought her purse and wallet. “I’m going to get one, dad,” she said when she found the machine. It wasn’t a question. She wasn’t checking. “Sure,” I said. Mad’s got a Kate Spade wallet, but not quite the muscles or dexterity to navigate it well. She stood there with her wallet jammed into her hip and stuffed two fingers into the coin purse in the attempt to extract a twenty-five cent piece. There was a struggle. I have to be honest: I think Mad derives the most joy not from the prize she gets from these machines, but from the actual process of inserting the coin(s) and turning the crank. Did we really need another bouncing ball? No, but I just bought a Voltron cap, so…
You may recall that Macaroni Grill is Madison’s favorite restaurant for reasons that are crystal clear. That is where I took my rapidly growing princess and Pokemon trainer to dinner. We decided on splitting lasagna before we had even set foot in the restaurant, but I knew that wouldn’t do it for me. “Mozzarella sticks or fried mac and cheese balls?” I asked. “Mac and cheese,” she said without bothering to look up from her artwork. Well, according to my discerning little eater, the lasagna wasn’t “as good as the one we make at home” (Swanson family pack) but the mac and cheese balls were “super-good.” Mad even came up with a particular way of eating them. She took a small bite of the ball, then used the hole to scrape out the mac and cheese. Then she ate the empty “bowl” of breading. I reminded her that we should use utensils to eat in a restaurant, but she quickly explained to me that it was impossible to employ her three-step technique without the assistance of her free left hand. I have learned to pick my battles, and while this wasn’t necessarily a land war in Asia, I decided against engaging in a conflict. It was Date Night.
I love lasagna and order it at every single Italian restaurant we dine in. I would have preferred sushi (as always), and most definitely would have enjoyed perhaps a poke bowl or a nice cheeseburger and fries. But Madison loves Macaroni Grill.
I have not won much over the course of my life. Consequently, I have come to celebrate and cherish tiny victories, small wins. Like a cold Coke at the back of the fridge after work. Like free wi-fi. Like eating at my favorite restaurant. Sometimes I forget that Lynnette and I decide just about everything for Mad. I think how that might feel if the roles were reversed. I would hate eating McDonald’s every day. No, for real, I would. I would also hate to watch her dance video over and over and over. But I have done these things, and many others. It’s exactly the same as falling in love with someone in your teens and twenties. You get dressed up even if you don’t want to. You watch a movie you don’t want to. You stay up a little later. You don’t make it out with the boys. You listen to the Wonder Pets soundtrack instead of your podcasts. You buy a $40 princess dress you know she’s only going to wear once. You stand in line for an hour when the ride lasts 45 seconds. I have done things that I would never choose for myself. I don’t know if she is aware of this. If she is, I don’t know that she appreciate it. But for now, it doesn’t matter. A win is a win, you know?