We arrived at a drive-in that looked very much like the drive-ins I remember from my youth. In fact, I don't think anything had changed, not even the hot dog water.
We packed up the car and headed south through the warm, rolling Ohio landscape. There's always time for a little adventure, right?
One of the best parts of parenthood is blowing your kids' minds when you share these little moments.
When I heard there still is a drive-in movie theater nearby, I knew it was one of those moments. "I didn't know those still existed," I said.
We agreed to go as soon as possible.
Our kids were excited, though they didn't really know what they were in for, when I talked to them about it.
"At a drive-in movie, you watch from your car," I said. They looked confused. My 6-year-old asked if we would watch the movie on a phone. "No, it's a big movie screen like at the theater," I replied.
"So, we drive into the movie theater?" she continued. I imagine she pictured us cruising through the doors of a theater she has been to a number of times, pulling up to the concession stand, then stopping at the velvet rope to get our tickets torn. We digested this idea for a moment before I burst her bubble.
"It's outside," I said. "There's a big movie screen and everyone parks their car in a field. We can sit in chairs or in the trunk."
"In the trunk?" she asked. This was too much for her.
You don't think about how small things can be so amazing when you're a little kid. I explained it was commonplace to park backwards, open the back hatch and snuggle up in blankets. She started to vibrate.
"And is there popcorn?" she asked. I nodded. Her little sister also started to vibrate. Then they stated to yell and jump all over me. And this, I'm pretty sure, was the second time they had learned the news.
And I wondered when the last time I was that excited about something.
We arrived at a drive-in that looked very much like the drive-ins I remember from my youth. In fact, I don't think anything had changed, not even the hot dog water. It was perfect.
It smelled distinct, a mix of popcorn, car exhaust and foliage in full bloom.
"Stinky," my 3-year-old said. Next to us a car's battery had died, and an employee jumped it with an efficiency that comes from experience. But then the car had to run for a while, a little too long.
We got there early to get a good spot, and the kids were full of energy. My wife and I believed they wouldn't make it through the first movie without falling asleep. I wasn't sure I'd even make it to the start of the first one. But they did, and so did I. They filled up on snacks and ran around. They snuggled up in the back of the car. They ate some more snacks. And we watched the movie.
Despite being well past bedtime, their energy didn't wane. But when the second of the double feature started, we were all feeling sluggish. They protested, but it was time to go.
On the way home, the car got quiet real quick. When I peeked back, both of them were sound asleep. A little adventure can take it out of you.
Reach Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @DaveManley