Raising Richmond: On the town!

Doing new things about town with the main mom and daughter in my life.

A few times a year I like to take a day off from work to spend time with my daughter. Taking time to do something different outside of errands and our regular routines is good for us. Plus, it reminds me of something that I used to do with someone else…I’m trying to remember whom…oh, right. My mother. She and I used to do cool things all the time before I had my own family.

Why did that stop? Mostly it’s been a time thing, but I guess I assumed my parents didn’t care to see me if I didn’t have their granddaughter in tow. When she was born, I became the scheduler instead. I make sure they see her often enough to fill up their phone camera rolls. To my mom’s credit, she does occasionally take a video of me, but those are usually of me screeching “ARE YOU TAKING A VIDEO?”

I know it’s important to break out and spend time doing things with my kid other than driving around and going to the grocery store. So it makes sense that my mom and I should continue to do things that don’t just involve her hanging out with my daughter. Obviously she still wants to see me. Because I am sometimes delightful.

Within about the same week, I planned mother/daughter dates that, by coincidence, both involved seeing Virginia Repertory plays and trying out new (to me) restaurants. I pumped my daughter up for our “Friday Funday.” I told her we were going to see Go, Dog, Go! (which, unfortunately, will be over by the time this piece goes up), and she talked to me about the play all week. Since I broke my rule of mentioning something to her too far in advance of it happening, I kept waiting for something to ruin our plans, but nothing did.

That morning, when we crossed the bridge heading downtown to our first stop for a morning snack, my daughter said, “This is the whole world of my life.” Let’s stop and think about how beautiful that sounds. But don’t think about what it means because a three-year-old said it.

Our first stop was at Sub Rosa in Church Hill. Everyone raves about it, but since I live on the Southside, it’s technically out of town for me so I never bothered to try it. We shared a chocolate pistachio bomb and lemonade, and I had a salami and cheese croissant. It was worth the trip.

We were ahead of schedule by the time we finished, so we ended up swinging by Southern Season, a place I’d heard so much about in the previous week I assumed it was mandated by the City of Richmond that I attend. We spent 10 minutes looking at candy and breakable things (I only noticed the breakable part because I let my daughter carry the umbrella). I can see why people are excited by the store, but other than the restaurant that looks amazing, I can’t tell how it’s different from a place like Fresh Market (I don’t really want to know, though; I have enough grocery stores to handle right now).

I tested my daughter’s patience even further by leaving the store quickly to take up my husband’s offer to stop by his office–something I haven’t done since I was on maternity leave. It was a nice treat, and it gave me something to do with half of a salami and cheese croissant I was carrying around. Our daughter told her dad’s coworkers that she was seeing a play “But I can’t talk during it. But I can laugh when it’s funny.” She took our talk about audience etiquette seriously.

Finally, the play. As everyone knows, Go, Dog. Go! is about a lonely, unmarried dog who works in her father’s hat shop, pouring her energy into making elaborate hats to catch the attention of the only eligible bachelor in town. And he does not like her hats. This P.D. Eastman classic is made into a 70-minute play by stretching out the story and performing it at a repetitive, preschool pace. The stage setting was very minimal, but the play was really well done–although the gabbing and laughing kids were more entertaining to me than the play itself. I don’t know why I bothered giving my daughter a talk about not talking; she was quiet (other than laughing), but the talking kids didn’t do anything to distract from people dressed like dogs playing with jackhammers. She did keep shushing me, although I wasn’t making any noises. As it does in the book, the “Do you like my hat?” gag made me laugh. My kid really liked it, and as we were leaving, she got to sit in Mr. Frumble’s pickle car (from an earlier production of Busytown).1

We followed up our special theater experience2 with lunch at Continental Westhampton. I looked at the menu the night before, and it seemed like a winner: kids’ items are priced well at $5 and there’s a Tom Haverford from Parks and Recreation reference on the regular menu). We both ordered burgers, but the salads coming out of the kitchen looked great. Although she didn’t eat her hamburger because of the fries (and maybe the chocolate pistachio bomb and lemonade and the big bag of fruit snacks she had during Go, Dog, Go!‘s intermission), I ordered us an ice cream sandwich. I’m surprised there was no barfing involved from either of us that day.

My daughter was, as usual, great company, and we both held off on acting grumpy until we got home (by that time she told me she liked nothing about the day and that is WAS NOT fun–her story changed a while later). We’ll consider Friday Funday a success.

— ∮∮∮ —

The night out with my mom involved less stops, and I didn’t have to wipe off ice cream from her mouth. I invited her to see The Color Purple with me with me. I have very limited exposure to local theater, but I’d heard so many great reviews of this show. Fortunately for you, the show runs through August 10th.3 I recommend you go.

Before the show, my mom and I had dinner at Mama J’s. It was relaxing spending time with her that was about us. My mom and I talked about everyday things and beyond, like we’re old friends and not mother/daughter or obsessive grandparent/stressed scheduler. While both mother/daughter dates had many parallels, the conversation with my mom was more productive than with my daughter. Though I did have an inspiring lunchtime chat with my kid about how she has a Slinky stuck on her hand and she has to live forever with her Slinky arm, and OH NO, now I have a Slinky arm.

— ∮∮∮ —

I’m glad I made the effort to bring my mom out to try something new–and I’m glad that I have a daughter who can share things with me, too. They are the most important females in my life, and they are worth taking some time off for.

Photo by: Virginia Rep

  1. He probably left it behind or it broke down or something because MR. FRUMBLE RUINS EVERYTHING HE TOUCHES. 
  2. Our two tickets cost almost $40, so plays are definitely a “sometimes treat.” 
  3. I am not a theater critic, but this performance has definitely gotten me more excited about local productions. And if there are awards that are given out for local theater, please give one to the actress who plays Sofia, Desiree Roots Centeio. 
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Kelly Gerow

Kelly Gerow lives and writes in Richmond. She probably does other stuff in Richmond, too.

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