Our grand boys have late April birthdays — Miles recently celebrated his 10th and Reed his 8th. As the once little ones become bigger ones, it’s increasingly difficult to have alone time with them. This year I capitalized on a free evening and took them to a restaurant to celebrate their birthdays.

“You know they’ll want sushi,” their mother Becky said when I proposed the idea. “Miles loves tuna rolls.”

And so sushi it was going to be — until the night before the “day of” when Becky overheard the boys whispering after lights-out. She heard them say they hoped Mee Mee would take them for fondue, an eating adventure we attempted years earlier when they were small, their younger cousin Avery along as well.

It was quite a fiasco keeping the “pitchforks,” as Reed calls the skewers, threaded with bread, meat and veggies, and taking the items out of the hot oil and the cheese with what seemed like dozens of little hands helping.

It also was difficult ordering at The Melting Pot, the only fondue spot we know of in St. Louis. You can order the fondue in several courses for a flat price, or as individual entrees. To Becky’s credit, she remembered that and prior to our latest visit, she got a copy of the menu online and we went over it, deciding ahead of time what the boys and I would order to keep the bill from breaking the bank.

After a powwow at home with the boys, we decided we’d order the traditional cheese fondue with bread cubes and veggies, and follow it up with dark chocolate dessert fondue, “Oh, Mee Mee, the marshmallows you dip in it are great,” Reed said, my mouth watering in anticipation.

We were on the same page when we arrived at the restaurant. The drink order was orderly — lemonade — but the evening hit a snag when the traditional cheese fondue was delivered. The boys didn’t like it, “probably the spices,” Miles said. “It’s too cheesy,” said Reed. So Grandmamma bear ate it, the whole pot right up.

Sensitive as to the price of the entrees, the boys said they were fine with just the bread and few veggies that came with the fondue. Dessert would be coming, they said. So there they sat using their best manners, divvying up the bread cubes, adding they really were OK.

Of course I wasn’t. I called our server over and ordered not one but two chicken entrées, and each came with a salad at no extra cost. Neither of the boys wanted salad, so I ate one of those too. Soon the chicken arrived and with a cluck-cluck here and a cluck-cluck there, we skewered pieces onto our “pitchforks” until the cows came home.

Over and over again, I heard about how much fun they were having, and how great the chicken was — making the extra cost for each entrée totally worth the financial sacrifice.

When it was time for dessert, Reed wanted the milk chocolate fondue but I talked him out of it, with the server’s help — “It will be really rich,” the man said.

We made the right choice that time. I could have wallowed like a pig in the warm, dark chocolate. But instead I opted for dipping strawberries, and was allowed the luxury of claiming one marshmallow as my own.

Reed was right. It was absolutely delicious, only outdone by the miniature Rice Krispies squares the server admitted were his favorites.

By the time our fondue-fest was finished, we felt like overstuffed royalty, giggling about how full we were, and talking about the food extravaganza we’d just polished off. The bill for our dinner wasn’t bad when you consider the good time we had and the memories we made.

“Thanks, Mee Mee for taking us there,” the boys said on the way home, extra icing on a birthday cake of an evening none of us will forget. I can hardly wait until next year.