Wanna go out? - The Significance of Such a Phrase

Strange how a phrase can change over the years.

Middle School

In middle school, we long to hear, "Wanna go out?" We have in our minds that life will be perfect if this one guy will just ask us out. You know, the ol' status symbol..."We're goin' out." Talk about middle-school squad goals!

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I don't know about you, but my parents' favorite line (and any other other family member who overheard) was, "Where you goin'?" It was said in a very sing-song, sarcastic voice. I could never make them understand that "Wanna go out?" and the subsequent "We're goin' out" were signs of maturity, not things to be scoffed at by old-fashioned adults.

Truly, I didn't need to have that conversation with my parents. (In case you didn't read between the lines, I'll spell it out. I didn't get asked "out" much in 7th or 8th grade. Thus, I didn't "go" anywhere. I was pretty awkward. Read more of my humiliation here.)

Fast Forward

In college, "Wanna go out?" was often asked between my girlfriends...a time to get all dressed up (to impress the guys) just to end up talking and laughing with each other all night.

Then in my junior year of college, it had an even greater significance when my future-husband said, "Wanna go out?" I believe his exact words were, "Wanna go to Olive Garden?" (In loving defense, Olive Garden is very romantic to broke college students. Seriously.)

I promptly turned him down. But over the course of several months, we became best friends. He then asked, "Wanna be my girlfriend?"

That time, I didn't turn him down. I smiled and said, "Yes." (You can read more of our story here. As I have hinted above, it is not of the love-at-first-sight variety, but it's still sweet to me.)

Then Comes the Babies

Funny how God changes your mind. My husband, Brandon, and I were married for almost 10 years when we had our first son. We insisted for a long time that we didn't want children of our own. As a dedicated teacher, I often felt like I had 20 something children each school year.

Yet, God had other plans. Our hearts changed, and suddenly we couldn't wait to be parents.

As we watched JR (and later Colt) grow, change and begin walking, the phrase, "Wanna go out?" took on another meaning.

It became a loving invitation from a parent to her child to explore the world with her.

Wanna go out and see the school bus drive by?  Wanna go out to see the sunset? Wanna go out and wave bye to your grandparents?

All of these things and so many more...we want to experience with our children. So we ask, in a hopeful voice, "Wanna go out?"

The Beach

As a mother, I thought I had reached the epitome of that phrase.

That was until the beach. 

Recently my family and I went to Gulf Shores, AL where we spent a wonderful week playing on the beach, swimming in the pool (a lot!), eating too much delicious food and laughing more than any family has the right.

One morning as I sat on the sand letting the waves wash over my feet, I lazily looked to my right. I watched an 80-year old woman slowly get to her feet from her beach chair. Earlier in the week, the elderly lady's daughter had affectionately called her mom a "beach babe" as we talked one morning. She said it with a teasing smile on her face. But I also heard kindness and respect in her voice as she spoke about how her mom loved the beach and came with the family each year.

As Ms. Beach Babe stood for a few moments to gain her footing on the shifting sand, she peered into the water.

Her daughter quickly noticed Ms. Beach Babe standing. She approached her 80-year old mom, lightly grasped her elbow, leaned in and asked, "Wanna go out?"

Ms. Beach Babe turned to her daughter and, with a beaming smile, nodded yes.

I was slammed with the significance of the phrase I overheard.

I sat with tears streaming down my sunglassed face as I watched a mother and daughter laugh with each other as the waves knocked against their legs. Both women gray haired but one more wrinkled and feeble than the other.

The whole time, the daughter held Ms. Beach Babe by the elbow, as a gesture of protection but more so of love. Almost like an unwillingness to let her go, not just in the water...but in life.

As I sat with a tear-streaked face on the beach, "Wanna go out?" took on another meaning. A daughter taking care of her mom. A daughter wanting to experience all life has to offer with her mother, until she can't anymore.

The Privilege

As a thrity-something mother of two sons, I look in awe at my parents and my parents-in-law. Being a parent myself now, I realize the sacrifices they made to give my husband and me a happy childhood.

I realize that you view and love people in your life differently as time passes. As you mature, your love matures and grows wiser. One day you wake up and "wanna go out" with your parents because you realize how precious time with them is. 

My mom, along with her 3 sisters, got the privilege to be with their dad the day he passed away. That privilege is truly the epitome of spending precious time together.

My grandfather served in World War II, was married to my grandmother for 51 years and stood next to her (and then her mother) through dementia and Alzheimer's. He was a man among men.

On the day he died, all 4 of his daughters stood around his bed in the nursing home comforting him. They had been called earlier that day because it was evident the time was drawing near. One daughter, maybe my mom but I'm not sure, finally spoke up to say what needed to be said aloud, "Daddy, it's okay if you wanna go."

I still cry every time I imagine that scene...her lovingly asking and giving permission, all in one phrase.

I am not sure I would have had the courage to say it...to essentially ask "Wanna go out, Daddy?"

But, she did. And only a few minutes later, he went.

It's strange and unsettling, yet almost comforting how a phrase changes meaning over our years.


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