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When My Daughter Said Yes to a Spontaneous Outing, I Seized the Moment

I picked my teenage daughter Emily up from swim practice. As she walked toward the car, I asked, “Any interest in getting some Swizzles?”

Sure, it was a school night. Sure, it was 8:45 p.m. and she still had studying to do. But, the unseasonably warm weather combined with the abundance of sparkling stars peppering the night sky made it feel like a summer night. And, I was craving vanilla and cake batter swirl.

It struck a chord with her, too. As soon as I suggested it, she screeched with excitement and skipped toward the car. I told Emily she could bring a friend, and moments later, she and Ilana were in my car, saying, “This is so exciting,” over and over.

Really? This is all it takes? I thought to myself. Getting frozen yogurt after swim practice?

Strengthening the Bond Between Mother and Daughter

Lately, it had been impossible to elicit any enthusiasm from Emily. Yet, here she was, reacting as if I had just told her we were on our way to a Taylor Swift concert.

“It might close at 9 p.m, but I think we have a shot,” I said to the girls. “It’s still only 8:57 p.m. So when I pull up in front, run out. I’ll park the car. Meet you in there.”

“This is such a fun adventure,” Emily said as I made the final turn into the shopping center.

The lights were still on inside the shop, but the chairs were already up on the tables. “Go! Go!” I yelled. It was 8:58 p.m. They shrieked like two little girls about to get on the best ride at the amusement park.

The girls were already inside when I got to the door. “Thanks so much,” I said to the high school boy who let me in, smiling at the girls as they carried their overflowing cups to the toppings bar. I pulled the lever down on the self-serve machine and turned my cup as the cake batter and then the vanilla yogurt swirled around the cup’s perimeter and then filled the middle.

I ate my yogurt while driving home. Some yogurt dropped in my lap, but at least I got my Swizzles. And, as I looked in the rearview mirror at Emily and Ilana, I realized I had gotten so much more. For 15 minutes, I was a part of an adventure with my teenage daughter. Who knows when that will happen again?

“That was fun,” Emily said as we pulled into our driveway. “I know,” I replied as I walked into the house, assuming we were still in “we’re in this together” mode. But, she didn’t hear me. She was already typing away on her laptop with her earphones on. My 15 minutes were apparently over. But, it was worth it.

Randi Olin is a staff editor at Brain, Child Magazine and has been published in NYMetroParents, Clever Magazine and Weston Magazine Group

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