Between Dinner and a Movie.
Saturday nights when we were very small were the best.
We made blanket forts and used every damn cushion in the couch. Laying pillows on the floor, we'd jump from down-filled island to island, pretending that the carpet was infested with alligators and only by balancing on the pillows would we be safe.
The babysitter always promised to make healthy dinner, but usually we ate popcorn, chicken fingers, and drank diet soda by the bottle, filling the glasses to the very brim and frantically slurping the carbonated foam away before it could spill over.
My favorite babysitters were the ones who played with us, not just sat there and talked with their boyfriends on the phone. Carolyn was my favorite one of all and I named my Cabbage Patch doll after her that year. She was pretty and smart and the characters she pretended to be were so clever. She was the perfect example, to me at seven years old, of what a 'hero' really was.
My parents had a standing Saturday night "date night," and they would go out to dinner either alone or with some friends, then maybe to a movie. Usually they left when it was still light out, while we were still outside playing in the yard or just coming in to have a snack. My brother and sister and I played and fought and made messes and told stories and generally destroyed the house, like little kids do.
Only now, when my memory is jogged, do I remember the headlights pulling back in the driveway, between when dinner ended and the movie began.
Dad would wait in the car while Mom ran in quickly to test me and give me my bedtime insulin injection. Then she'd say goodnight to all of us and run back out to the car to continue "date night."
Only now do I remember those moments and wish I'd named "Carolyn" after my mother, instead.