My middle son is at the age where his personality is starting to really reveal itself. There is potential he is a sneaky little trouble maker. At one point yesterday, he had wandered off. This in and of itself is no big deal. He is a toddler version of an old man. He putters around the house constantly.
But yesterday morning, he'd puttered off with a handful of Easter candy. We found him with a mouth covered in chocolate. "Were you eating candy?" we asked. "No," he said, laughing. Late last night, he had what amounts to his version of Montezuma's Revenge. His yelling woke me. I thought he was having a bad dream. Turns out he was throwing up in bed
The thing about watching a 2½-year-old vomit is that it is the opposite way adults vomit. He didn't trying muffle his noise by turning on a faucet or minimize the splash radius or vomit apologetically. He's cried and screamed and generally told me just how awful throwing up is.
He's right, of course. Kids are blessed with their perspective, that many things are out of their control. Usually, when adults get sick like that, we do it to ourselves. Our bodies hold us accountable for our bad decisions. "Yeah," our stomachs say, somewhat ruefully, "maybe you didn't need that 12th Jack and Coke." Or, "Did you seriously think a lobster taco from a Tijuana street vendor was a good idea?"
I was more than happy to assume responsibility. Because on some level, while I'm trying to calm him down and get him to get the rest of his sick out and brushing his teeth and washing his hands and changing his sheets and laying down with him for a bit before he drifts back to sleep, I'm thinking, "This was my fault."
With all three boys out yesterday, my wife was primary on baby, I took the middle and we split oversight on the oldest. Between the candy and the cake and the rich Easter dinner and how wound up he was with a full day of running around with his cousins, I know I shouldn't have been so indulgent. (My wife, better diagnoser of both their moods and maladies than I am, thinks it might be stomach flu. I hope it isn't, but would feel less guilty if it was. This is parenting, people.)
This morning, he was as bright and happy as he is almost every morning. All smiles and running and dancing. I'd been up for two hours at that point, drinking coffee and working, and I think how much more right that he probably has it. The 'it' being life.
To just be in the moments he finds himself, feeling them and enjoying them when they are the kinds of moments you can enjoy. It's hard sometimes, to enjoy those moments with my boys because of the worry-colored sunglasses you're handed when you become a parent. Will he fall if he climbs? Will he get sick if he eats that? Will he hurt?
Of course he will. But I just want him to know that these hurts will pass. And I'll be right here to help them pass a little faster and hopefully, a little bit better. Especially if I had a hand in their creation.
Alan has three sons and he writes about fatherhood (read: exploits his children), trying to turn boys into good men and his hatred for Caillou at alwaysjacked.com. His writing has also appeared at Families in the Loop, The Good Men Project, ThirtyMag and Pregnancy Magazine.
See more of Alan's stories here.
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