Growing up dinner was always late, our hard working, commuting, mom and step dad were rarely home before 7 or 7:30pm. No surprise, both my brother and I were pretty good in the kitchen at an early age…..we were hungry! We didn’t get that after school “family vibe” very often – if at all. That is likely why it’s so fun being ‘that mom’ for the kids in our hood.
Believe it or not, Wednesdays are my favourite. “Wicked Wednesday”, we call it.
Now I don’t want you to think I’m going all Martha Stewart on you, (not that there’s anything wrong with Martha), because that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Wicked Wednesday started three years ago with the idea of organizing “The Three Amigos” (B his pals Ry and J from down the street) for a regular dinner night that they could count on and look forward to.
The grabber here: THEY pick the menu. There are parameters: there’s always a fresh guacamole appetizer, raw veggies are not optional – they are a staple – and there can be only one deep fried item per month.
Think: Tacos, Ribs, Burgers, Teriyaki Chicken….we’ve had Calamari come into the mix in the last year and, while, at first, it brought gasps of horror to all (save for the youngster who chose) It’s a fan favourite around the WW table.
The food (new flavours) is central to WW but so is free play. Who wouldn’t love hearing the screams of joy upon arrival, our code word (“NERDWORD”), even the conflict resolution that happens over Xbox controls — OMG, the excited celebrations during a rousing game of Pokemon Cards…I could go on and on.
Oh, and yes, there is a method to my madness — you would not believe the serious intel gathered from these boys. We sit around the table and eat together, talk, AND they compete to practise their spelling words (boom!). I’ve promised that “no matter what” they tell me, I won’t tell anyone else….not parents, teachers, no one. It’s our own little vault. The only caveat is that the vault opens if someone is getting bullied, is at risk of being hurt or a law broken.
The fun starts at 5 and wraps up at 7:30…the parents in the hood appreciate the window each week that they, too, may plan around.
Our WW group has grown to four, sometimes five, and there’s a bit of a wait list (girls) who want to get in on the fun.
I saved the best rule for last: The crew know they have to leave our house as they found it, somewhat clean and tidy — I may have exclaimed: “I’m not cleaning up ONE THING…if I do…this isn’t happening next week”. Shockingly, they believed me the first time. Who knew, when motivated by a fun reward, they are capable?!?
My partner tells me that I “throw a birthday party, every week”….he’s a little bit right….and I love it. Get your wicked on!
PS: I highly recommend paper plates.