Memories of a hard day called Monday by some and something else by me. Long hours spent in heavy negotiations about the future. Hard fought victories of the past paraded past me but viewed through the prism of loss. Optimism tempered by reality and a healthy dose of day dreaming.
Screaming children running through the house pursued by the happy barks of a puppy. They create an impromptu racetrack and run round it for a solid thirty minutes. One parent sleeps while the other watches the Laker game and listens to the happy shrieking.
Dad mulls over whether to let the game continue or to end it now before laughter turns to tears. He opts not to, not because it would interfere with watching the game but because sister and brother are working together. They are a very happy team and though it means that dinner and bedtime may come a bit later it is worth letting them experience the joy that only siblings know.
Let them run wild and run free. For these few moments let them continue to be lost in the fun. Later on they’ll forget about this and the fighting will resume. It is normal sibling rivalry, nothing unusual about it at all. Even so there is merit in allowing this nonsense to continue. In spite of the pounding headache and the craziness let them run because it makes me smile to see them.
Yes, I can see them running. They don’t know that periodically I look out the bedroom window and watch them run in circles. They are completely unaware that just as they never stop listening we don’t either. The lack of response from parents doesn’t always mean a lack of interest.
We have spoken about picking our moments. We have spoken about choosing which battles to fight, but I don’t think that they recognize that this is part of the daily routine. Every day is filled with choices and options. Every day has moments in which we decide whether to throw down the gauntlet. Sometimes the best choice is to ignore them or at least push them off for a little while because they aren’t going away, these challenges.
I am reminded of the weekend. The dark haired beauty goes off to a friend’s house for a sleepover. Her big brother and I decide that we need man time to do manly things. We have hours and hours to ourselves. The big guy and I talk and play. We wrestle and roll on the floor. Seventy pounds of boy with boundless amounts of energy attacks me with all that he has. Alternating between laughter and frustration he wonders why he can’t beat me.
I laugh and tell him that when I am 130 he still won’t be able to take me. Silently I wonder when it will happen. When will the day come when I am no longer stronger than my son. It is a bittersweet thought. My fragile male ego loves it, hates it. I don’t concede such things…ever.
But I want it for him. I want him to feel it. I want him to have the joy of feeling a body that you know can do anything. I want him to have what I have had and then some. But I am a long way off from being ready for that. After all he is almost 10 and I am 41. It is still natural for me to win.
So while I don’t have to try exceptionally hard I don’t just give in either. I teach him some more moves, show him how leverage can help you win. Work with him so that when he wrestles with the bigger boys he has a shot. Later we’ll have lunch and I’ll take out some tools and show him how they work.
Evening comes and his sister finally returns home. She sits on the couch in the living room and he tells her that he is glad that she is home. It is particularly tender moment. She immediately recognizes that he is not always like this and tries to hug him. But that is too much, he jumps off the couch, wagging his finger at her.
She climbs into my lap and complains that he won’t let her hug him. She loves him, doesn’t he love her. I smile and reassure her that he does. I don’t tell her that he is doing this with his mother and I. If his friends are around he is cautious about whether he will allow himself to be hugged or kissed.
I get away with it more easily than his mother, but that is only because I camouflage it with roughhousing. I grab him, shake him and give him a good squeeze. That doesn’t affect his cool factor or whatever it is he is trying to protect.
It is ok with me, this independence. I won’t make him hold hands in the parking lot. But he knows that is contingent upon his demonstrating that he is cognizant of the cars and people around him.
Later on dinner has been served and homework has been completed. I am standing in the bathroom installing a new medicine cabinet. The box said that it was the same size as the old unit, but it is clearly a hair off. I am going to have to mess around a bit with things to see that it looks right. I call him in to help and to teach.
The dark haired beauty is irritated. She wants to help, but frankly she is too short for this task. She yells at me that girls can do anything boys can do. I am tempted to tell her that she can’t put out a campfire while standing straight up, but that is not really something dad should say. So I tell her the truth, “you’re not tall enough yet.”
She yells at me again, says that she is taller than some of the other girls and boys. I smile and say that she is, tell her that she is average height and that is good. She stomps out and slams her bedroom door. Damn these girls and their drama. Reminds me of my sisters- don’t tell me that boys and girls are the same.
Later on she is the one that will clean up my knuckle. I have a small cut, but she insists on being the one to clean and bandage it.
Finally I am in bed, exhausted from a hard day filled with more than I share. But as I drift off to bed I think about the kids laughter and smile.