Days and nights with the Little Man

Lately–perhaps because I am rapidly approaching my 40th trip around the sun and have been ruminating on this–I’ve been trying to spend more time with the Little Man. I find myself thinking about him quite a bit when I am at work. There is usually some quiet time in the house when I get home from the office, an hour or two before I have to pick the Little Man up from school. But lately I’ve wanted to pick him up as early as I can just to hang out with him. Having kids really puts into perspective how fast time flies.

We spend part of Sunday on the floor, making up games to keep up busy. We were supposed to go and see an ice show, but the Little Man has been running a low-grade fever and we didn’t want him to overdo it and be sick during our vacation. So we stayed home and had to find ways to entertain ourselves. He and I made up several games. Some involved tossing around a ball. In another case, we pushed toy cars into a “tunnel” moving farther away from the tunnel with each success to make it harder. That graduating into knocking down plastic cups with cars from a distance. The Little Man clearly had a blast, and I had fun, too.  I think his fun was in playing new games. Mine was in just getting to hang out with him.

When the Little Miss was born she slept in our room. The Little Man, not wanting to be left out, refused to sleep in his bed, and with a newborn around, we had no energy to fight him. So for the last four months, the Little Man has slept with me on a mattress on the floor in our bedroom, while the Little Miss has slept with Kelly in our bed. We are going to be transitioning both of them into their own beds/cribs when we get back from our vacation. I had grown tired of sleeping on the floor but recently, it is comforting to have the Little Man there. A time will come, of course, when the Little Man will rather hang out with his friends than his mom or dad so I’m learning to try to take advantage of these moments when he still wants to do things with me.

He speaks in complete sentences now, expresses opinions, and comes up with unique ideas which makes him seem so much more like a little person. He’ll grab my hand and say, “Come on, daddy, let’s go play with toys.” When he’s in the bathtub, I’ll ask him if he’s ready to get out and he’ll respond with, “In just a second.” He doesn’t yet have a good grasp of time, but he’s heard this phrase from somewhere and he knows it is a way of delaying the inevitable. If he’s drinking something, I’ll ask him if he’s finished. “Almost, daddy,” is his inevitable answer.

“Who’s going to come visit you?” we ask him.

“Santa Claus,” he said. “He brings toys for Zachary and Gracie.”

“What toys did you ask Santa to bring?”

Action Chugger, Puffer Pete and Hodge,” he says every time.

At present, he is insisting we are getting to our vacation destination by helicopter. (We are flying, but not by helicopter.)

He can count beyond ten, say his ABCs, and sing numerous songs. Some of those songs are traditional things like, “Itsy Bitsy Spider” but what gladdens me is that he is often singing to himself, songs like, “Gone Fishin'” and other Bing Crosby songs he’s heard me sing over the course of his life.

He wakes up in the morning with a big smile on his face. He looks up at the window and says (in a regular voice, which will usually wake up Kelly and Gracie), “It’s not dark out, Daddy.”

He will read me books, getting the gist of what is on the page either from memory or from the pictures and making up the rest. Sometimes, he gets the exact line right. I read Green Eggs and Ham to him for the umpteenth time a few nights ago, and he would constantly repeat the refrain with me. He sometimes randomly quotes from One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, which bodes well for his ability to quote from random movies the way I often do.

He is getting a better understand of roles and habits. I am usually the one to get him ready for bed while Kelly stays downstairs with Grace. But if Kelly should come upstairs before she is expected, the Little Man will say, “No mommy, you and Gracie go downstairs.”

He tries our patience sometimes, but that is what he is supposed to do at this age. It’s wired into his DNA. He is potty-training. He does well at school, but has mixed feelings about it at home. That said, in the last few days, he has requested using the potty–as opposed to us having to urge him to use it. That is promising.

Yesterday while heading home, I had a flash of what the Little Man might look like at 7 or 8 years old. It was an eerie kind of feeling and a reminder of how fleeting this time is. It is a strange feeling. On the one hand there is relief that I have already run all of the gauntlets that the Little Man has yet to run: school, tests, making friends, fitting in, homework, stress, applying to colleges, finding a job, deciding on a career, etc. But there is stress in the fact that he still has to run those gauntlets and I have to watch him struggle through them, offering what help I can but knowing that a lot of that help is meaningless. Knowledge can be transferred but wisdom must be gained through experience.

That said, I feel lucky every day I get to spend with the Little Man. And I look forward to all the days to come.