I’m pleased to report that I was able to spend some quality time with both children this last holiday weekend. It’s possible to make that happen, as long as I don’t try to have quality time with both of them at the same time.

Around Valentine’s Day a local girl scout troop will invariably put on a “Daddy-Daughter” dance. The girl and I have gone to a couple of them, and while it’s fun to get dressed up, the two of us aren’t much into the dancing, and the music is usually too loud. In fact, last time we ended up leaving early and going to Haagen-Dazs. So this year, we decided that instead of going to some silly dance, we’d just go out to dinner.

To make it more of a special event, I picked a restaurant that neither of us had been to before - Benihana. So, Saturday night we got to enjoy the teppanyaki show. As I hoped, she got a big kick out of the theatrics on the grill, and even better, she enjoyed the food. She had hibachi steak, but after tasting the shrimp appetizer, I think she may get shrimp the next time.

After dinner, we wandered around Linens ‘n Things, just being goofy, then went to Cold Stone Creamery for dessert. The evening was topped off by a trip to the pet store to see the puppies and ferrets.

Although I had Monday off, my wife’s girl scout troop was scheduled to have babysitter training in our family room all day. And by all day, I mean 8:30 am to 4:00 pm. Knowing that discretion is the better part of valor, the boy and I bugged out early and went to the zoo.

As I think I’ve mentioned previously, the best time to hit the zoo is early in the morning when it is cold and wet. True to form, we got to see a lot of the animals being active. For example, I got to see both of the new cougars, for the first time. They were snoozing just on the other side of the glass viewing window. Magnificent animals, both of them.

After cruising the entire zoo, we had lunch at Skyline Cafe. Whenever there’s a competition, this place always comes in among the top three ‘best burgers in Portland.’ I’ve always wanted to try one, and by golly, they DO make a pretty damn tasty burger. After lunch, we wandered a little more, ending up at a hobby shop (more on THAT, later).

I really enjoyed both outings. I often feel guilty that I don’t spend more alone time with the kids, because they really seem to enjoy it. And I enjoy it too, if for no other reason than we genuinely have a good time, and I don’t have to yell at either of them at all. In contrast, if you try to do anything with both of them at the same time, they just start picking at each other and pretty soon they’re driving each other nuts.

Early on, we decided that we ought to keep them from physically assaulting each other, in part because they have always been so big and strong. Unfortunately, that strategy seems to have backfired. Instead of calmly using language to work out their differences like civilized beings, sibling relations seems to have escalated into all-out psychological warfare. And I fear it will only get worse.

Sometimes I think we should have just let them pound on each other.