I really want tonight’s date night to be as romantic and as sinful as possible – an event to remember.

I’ve opened a bottle of wine, centred our Date night mattress ‘Springy’ in front of the plasma and even cleaned up all the take-away containers from the lounge room floor. For relaxation and emotional bonding I’ve loaded the set top box with a romantic comedy. This will be followed by a two hour slideshow of hunk-actor Channing Tatum so that RM doesn’t have to close her eyes to think about him while I’m working my magic into the wee hours.

I’m scanning the scene for anything I might have missed when RM emerges from the hall with the work computer and a serious look on her face and it occurs to me that I might have to fall back on my boyish humour to chip away at a week’s worth of work-tension and get her into the date night mood but dammit all to hell, several moments of standing at the foot of the mattress gawking at her as she taps away at the keyboard and the only semi-humorous line I have in my head is Jerry Seinfeld’s “like a frightened turtle” and I’ve just about given up hope when a sleep-defiant Lewis walks in, like the cavalry to my rescue, with a Grade One exercise book under his arm.

‘Dad,’ he says. ‘I forgot to tell you something about my arse.’

‘Your what?’ RM says, with an explosive chuckle.

‘My arse…’ he says.

‘I’ve been your Dad for seven years…’ I say, sitting at the foot of the mattress. ‘This is the strangest thing you’ve ever said to me.’

He walks towards me, looking as confused as RM and I are feeling, puts a hand on my knee and says. ‘Today at school, Mrs McVeigh was so impressed with my arse that she gave me two silver stars and one gold star.’

‘Okay, Lewy,’ I say. ‘Now, you’re starting to scare me…’

He frowns and squints a little before continuing. ‘Because at the start of the year my arse looked really bad but now look,’ he says, opening up his exercise book.

The space in between my ears hums in suspension of what it might see in the opening pages and it takes a moment of staring at the line of cursive handwriting before I get what’s going on here. ‘Oh,’ I say, to RM. ‘He’s been practicing the letter R. He’s talking about his R’s…’

RM puts the laptop down to give herself the space to laugh as I explain to Lewis what the mix-up was all about and then he’s laughing so hard that he’s wheezing and while I mentally locate the asthma pump, just in case, I thank the Date Night Gods for their timely intervention and drive this joke into the ground. ‘Look at him,’ I say. ‘He’s laughing his R’s off.’

Another minute passes before I stand up and lift Lewis to his feet. ‘Come on,’ I say. ‘Let’s get your R’s to bed.’

Once I’ve thrown him into bed and given him a cuddle I whisper. ‘You’ve done so well with your school work this year. We’re very proud of you.’

letter-r‘Hey Dad,’ he whispers back as I leave the room. ‘You thought I said arse.’

‘That’s an adult word,’ I say, putting a finger to my lips.

When I get back to the lounge RM has the TV remote in her hand and there’s Channing Tatum smiling back at her from the Plasma and things are looking up. To light the fuse on this night of love and debauchery I bend over in front of the Plasma, pick up Lewis’s exercise book, look back at her and say, ‘How many stars do think Mrs McVeigh would give this,’ as I slap myself on the arse with Lewis’s R’s.

She replies with, ‘At least one silver…’ which I find very funny, but what’s most pleasing is how she’s trying to look around me to a picture of Channing Tatum wearing a dirty singlet in the movie White House Down.

We just have to wait for Lewis to fall asleep and we’re away!