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The sweet spot of parenting | Living with Gleigh

I have been at a sweet place in parenthood for a couple years now. For those of you with older kids you know the spot - it’s when you can drop your kids off at places they want to go without chaperoning them. It actually starts in a small way a few years sooner when you can leave them at home alone for an extended period of time - like long enough to go grocery shopping or enjoy a date with your husband without getting a babysitter.

I have a friend visiting from out of town. Her daughter is not old enough to drop off alone, but both my daughters, who are in their late teens, are old enough to be her temporary chaperones.

Most of the time we’ve noticed the kids don’t want to go anywhere at all, preferring to hole up inside and compare electronic games. We discovered that phenomenon last year during their visit when my friend and I wanted to do all these fun things but the kids did not. So we left them home.

It is much cheaper to allow them to stay home, however it’s against the finer senses of their parents. They came all the way from Florida, the least they could do it attempt to go outside. Last year we dropped them off at Wild Waves.

So one day last week my friend and I wanted to go do some hiking so she could take Northwest forest pictures for some artwork she wants to create for her house in Florida. We suggested the kids go to the Point Defiance Zoo while we hiked around the Point Defiance Park. For the record, I don’t hate the zoo; it’s probably one of my favorite places to go. But not being particularly partial to sun and concrete, I decided I would rather hike on the surrounding, shaded trails.

Who knew what a gem the Point Defiance area of Tacoma was? It took my friend from Florida to show me – she had transplanted here many years ago before she moved back seven years ago.

We did give the kids the choice to go hiking with us or go into the zoo and they chose the zoo. A couple hours later when we had hiked a short trail through the forest and walked the path along the waterfront, I called my oldest daughter. She told me they still had much to see after they ate lunch.

So my friend and I decided we would find a Thai food restaurant in which to have a sit-down, grown-up lunch. We searched on her cell phone and found an almost-five star Thai restaurant named “Indochine” in downtown Tacoma, plugged it into the GPS and drove there.

When we walked in the door of the restaurant we were pleasantly surprised by its exotic atmosphere. With its mix of wood, bricks and textiles we really felt we were sneaking away to something we didn’t want to share with the kids. The food was also fantastic and they had a different flare on everything from sauces to paella. Definitely not a place we’d want to take the kids.

We kind of reveled in the fact that not only were we able to drop the kids off at the zoo, but we left the premises of Point Defiance and drove to another part of town. Just as we were finishing our lunch my daughter texted me that they were ready to be picked up.

I told her we were almost finished and would be by shortly. What I didn’t tell her was we’d be on our way as soon as we went to “Wanna Cupcake?” a few doors down and enjoyed a banana split and toffee cupcakes.

A sweet spot, indeed.

Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She is committed to finding places she can sneak away to without her kids. You can read her column every week on covingtonreporter.com under the Lifestyles section. You can also read more of her writing and her daily blog on her website livingwithgleigh.com or “like” Living with Gleigh on Facebook.

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