Chocolate Milk

“I’ll have chocolate milk,” Channing said sheepishly.  He gave a nervous cough, as if embarrassed for ordering a ‘baby’ drink.  My 15 year old son, now taller and smarter than I am (well, ok, so he’s been smarter for awhile) was embarrassed to order his special treat beverage at this ‘seasonal meal with mom’ (SMM).

I started the SMM tradition ten years ago when my kids were 3, 5, and 7.  A friend whose children were long since grown had mentioned how much she had enjoyed taking each of them out to breakfast when they were growing up.  She loved the specialness of one-on-one time in a restaurant.  “What a great idea,” I thought.  I extended it to lunches and dinners and made it a seasonal gig.

Through the years, my SMM’s with Channing have included coloring with crayons while ordering off the children’s menu, discussing the holocaust over a steak dinner and sitting in stony, adolescent silence while he picked at his food.  I’ve watched all of my children grow and change through the lens of these simple meals during the seasons of their youth . . . growth and transition across this singular tradition.

I know that soon the chocolate milk will give way to black coffee and eventually beer.  One day, I’ll be lucky to get a single, annual meal alone with Channing.  For today, I breathe deeply and smile as he sips his milk through a straw and asks if we can order dessert.

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