It happened again. Just like last year. My wife goes back to school and my kid heads back to child care. Where he caught a cold. During the first week. Again.
I came to the rescue, entering his little classroom during “free time” (basically when kids are free to run amuck). My mission was no cakewalk. I stepped over and around the knee-high critters, dodging germs and fighting my way through a whirl of little bodies. Then I found my kid, eyes closed and pitiful, snuggled up in a bean bag chair with his thumb stuck in his mouth.
I touched his knee. He brightened up when he saw me. I scooped him up and he latched on to my neck and nodded to the teachers. Poor guy. On the way out he nuzzled his warm head into my neck. “I missed you Daddy.”
Some Motrin and snuggle time and little dude seemed to be coming out of his spell. We lounged the rest of the day, vegging out and eating cereal while watching Curious George on the couch. Mom came home that evening and I puffed out my chest with a sniff. That’s right, I’ve got things under control.
By the next morning things were good again. He was chipper and alive and looked to be as good as new. He had to stay out so I’d already called in work, so I took advantage, mapping out a day for us to enjoy.
We’d hit the children’s museum, maybe catch a ball game or et out. We could sing Twist and Shout in a parade! Yeah, so the day I had in mind may have been similar to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. But still, the morning was beautiful and we all the time to enjoy it. Although my perfect day and reality were bound for a collision.
Because I pictured the day like this….
I had a feeling things were going awry when my car wouldn’t start. I’d let him play in it during the morning and killed the battery. No problem. My neighbor bailed us out with a jump so we were on our way, off for some fun. We set off into the morning warmth, ready for anything. But only an hour into our adventure he looked up at me and said that he was ready to go home.
No ball games. No parades. No trying to reset the mileage on Dad's Ferrari. Sure buddy.
So we went home. And whatever bug he’d caught had a good hold on his temperament. He through a fit. No, he became possessed by germ demons. He was miserable. Inconsolable. He kicked the dogs and slapped at me. None of this was in my plans.
Nothing was according to plan. But itwasn’t about me. It was about a little boy with a cold who needed me. He was tired. So I tried to get him down for a nap. And tried…
Nothing worked. In an instant he flipped from jolly old boy to scare-a-priest-with-my-demon-screams raging. This was supposed to be nap time. A reprieve from duty. This day was turning out to be work. I rocked and rolled. I read him books. I hugged him as he went ape sh$3, wiping his nose and clawing at the pillow. Oh boy.
Finally I got him in his room and down for his name. For maybe twenty minutes. Then came the screams. I offered him a snack. We took it easy for a while. I gave him medicine. He got his second wind.
We did a few activities in the basement. We painted a planter I'd built. We tinkered, then we waited for Mom to come home. And waited. He grew impatient. I got flustered.
I love my son. He’s the greatest. But on days like that he was so much work. I believe Mr. T put it best. Parenting is hard damn work. Wasn't him? Well someone said it...
But there are rewards.
I didn’t have that big day I’d planned, but looking back there were so manly little moments. Like when I helped him out of the car, and with his grubby little hand in mine he said, “I’m having a fun day, Daddy.”
He didn't need adventure, just a shoulder to snot on. And there were also several great moments, even with my ears still ringing from those heavy-metal screams. My heart is still warm from that little I love you Daddy I got while we snuggled on the couch. Hey, I'm a good snuggler, who knew?