I went shopping with my daughter today. We started out with lunch at her favorite restaurant - Longhorn Steakhouse. Typically, if we hit the mall, we hit the food court or a fast food restaurant. That way, we save time, energy and money for the main course - shopping. Today, we made an exception, and as it turns out, that lunch was my favorite part of our trip.
Don't get me wrong - the shopping was fun, too. At 11 1/2, my daughter is becoming fashion conscious in general, and developing her own style in particular. Since the first store we hit at the mall was one of my favorites, she immediately morphed into my fashion consultant, flitting from this item to that item, asking me what I was looking for and making suggestions, her eyes lighting up as I took what she offered. She ran interference between the dressing room and the clothing racks, finding different sizes and colors and keeping the sales staff apprised of my progress.
The rest of the trip (her turn) was fun, too. She knew which stores interested her and which did not, and she had come to the mall with specific ideas. We never just wandered into any old store; instead, we hit particular high points with a specific quest in mind.
Just spending time with my daughter was the best part - which brings me back to lunch. I don't know if it was the quiet restaurant, the atmosphere, her mood in general, or her happiness about the unexpected detour from the food court, but having lunch with my daughter was like having lunch with a good friend. She chatted, she listened, we talked about insignificant things and things of importance. Things we would not have discussed in the food court.
I'm sure we'll have lots more trips to the mall, and lots more trips to Longhorn, but this one will always have a special place in my heart because it was the epitome of what I love best about summer. Quiet, stress-free time with my daughter in an atmosphere that pleases us both and fosters conversation and simple enjoyment of each other's company. Each stage of my daughter's development has brought different joys and trials, and days like today are one of the greatest joys of this stage.