It's a date

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Sometimes I try to "plan" experiences for my kids intended to foster mutual respect and camaraderie -- to really cement us together as a family unit. Like this one time, around Valentine's Day, I bought a plush frog (holding a heart) and explained this super-neato plan to my kids: perform an act of kindness for a family member and leave the frog behind. The recipient of the frog then does a good turn and so on and so on, thereby passing along good deeds (and the frog). I started it off. I made one of the girls' beds and neatly placed the frog on top. Then I waited and waited and waited, and eventually huffily re-explained the idea. And . . . the frog changed hands one or two times . . . and then NOTHING. I may or may not have loudly "explained" my frustration, ending with something like I DON'T KNOW WHY I EVEN TRY TO IMPROVE OUR FAMILY RELATIONS WHEN I COULD BE EATING CUPCAKES AND WATCHING NETFLIX. And then, of course, I threw the frog down the stairs. The bottom line? It was my plan, and they were plain NOT. INTERESTED.

I still claim points for trying.

But then, there are other times, when sibling relationships blossom outside of the cultivated confines of my carefully tended garden (yeah, that's a metaphor for ya). Point in case: Madison happened to be out of town on a choir trip on Parker's 12th birthday. She felt badly about missing his special day. So, when she returned she invited him out to dinner -- just the two of them. She took him to his favorite barbecue joint (for ribs) and then to Target to spend some birthday money. 

According to Madison's report, Parker opened the car door for her (keep in mind he's 12). On his own, Parker brought his wallet, making sure he had enough money to take Madison out for frozen yogurt after dinner.

Come on. Let's hear it. Aaaaaaaawwwwww.

Now that's what I'm talking about -- pure family gold. I'm not exactly certain how to go about recreating this experience. The kids need to be invested in the process, otherwise it's just the frog debacle all over again . . . except at a local restaurant. But there is something there, and it has to do with autonomy and being a friend -- with spending time and being interested in each other's lives. And making memories folks. I'm all about making memories.

Some restaurant gift cards might end up in the Easter baskets this year. I'm just sayin'.