I had a tough choice to make and it was keeping me up at night. See, I was invited to a special screening for a new movie, Hotel Transylvania, and I could bring a guest.
Children were welcome, even encouraged, so naturally, I wanted to bring one of my kids. But I struggled with which child to take, and how to break the news about who was going and who wasn’t.
My oldest child, Balthazar, who just turned eight, was the natural choice. He’s my movie guy who loves every movie and relishes in the joy of going. But my youngest child, Margaux, who’s four, never gets to go anywhere. She’s my schlep-along kid who spends half her life in the car going to her brother’s stuff.
I worry if she’s ever asked to draw a portrait of me, it will be a drawing of the back of my head and a steering wheel in my hand.
This would be the perfect opportunity for us to spend some alone time together, but I just wasn’t sure whether she was old enough to appreciate the movie.
After much debate, I told Balt that I was taking him to the screening. He shouted, “Yes!” while Margaux started to cry. It took me the better part of half an hour to convince her that no, I didn’t love her brother more than I love her. And yes, I would buy her a pony to make up for not choosing her. And, to soften the blow, I told her that the movie would only admit kids ages six and older (yes, a little white lie, but it seemed to help calm her down).
She asked if I would take her another time to see a movie. “Just us alone Mommy,” she said. I agreed. I’d love nothing more.
The day of the screening, I got a call from Balt’s school. He was sick. Clearly, he wouldn’t be able to go to the premiere that night. When I delivered the news, he was disappointed but not heartbroken. That came later when I told him his sister was going in his place. (Turns out, I’ll be buying two ponies this year.)
Margaux and I had a fabulous time, just us alone, starting before we even left the house. We were girly getting ready, with little M asking to have her hair curled twice. I drew the line when she asked for makeup (but I know that we’ll have a ball someday getting made up together!).
When we arrived at the movie-themed party, Margaux was in heaven getting her face painted and even had a conversation about fashion with the ladies from the girl-group Fifth Harmony as only girls do in the ladies room. She took full advantage of the Pinterest-worthy candy buffet and knew how special it was to be at a private showing of this movie. I loved all of that — but I loved it more because I was doing it with her.
One of the hardest parts of parenthood for me is feeling like I’m always disappointing somebody I love. I hate choosing which of my kids gets my time, but I also love spending one-on-one time with each of them.
As Margaux sat next to me in the darkened theater, her head nuzzled into my side, I thought about how ironic this special night was. Hotel Transylvania 2 is a wonderful family movie about a vampire dad who desperately wants to keep his little girl close. Sitting on my first real date night with my daughter, I knew exactly how Drac felt: We want our kids to grow up; we just don’t want them to grow away.
As we drove home after the movie, I asked Marg what she liked best about the night. I figured she’d say she loved all the candy or the special attention she got. Instead, she said, “Being with Mommy. Just us. All alone.”
The next day, as Margaux was telling her brother all about her night while sharing the goodies she got, it dawned on her that I had told her she couldn’t go because she had to be six.
“Hey Mommy, why did they let me go? I’m not six.” Thinking on my feet, I told Margaux they made an exception for her so that she could be my date.
I hope she’s happy with my answer and doesn’t ask again. I can’t afford to buy any more ponies.
Meredith blogs for HuffPo, has written for Divine Caroline, Jewcy, Cosmopolitan, and has even sold a Hollywood screenplay or two. When she’s not lying about her age, Meredith spends her time humiliating her family publicly by writing about them. She lives in Los Angeles where she writes the hilarious blog, badsandy.com.
This article was originally published at Badsandy.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.