Friday, January 28, 2005

Bonding with my Son

When I got home from work my wife was heading out to a church function with my oldest daughter. My wife runs the new membership committee at church and it was their potluck night. That left me with the two youngest ones.
M (11 months) was exhausted by 6:00 and I brought her up to bed. I carried her around the room and sang to her for 10 minutes while she fell asleep on my shoulder.
T (he is 3.5 years) was waiting patiently outside M's door. We went downstairs and I suggested that we draw some letters and pictures. He started out sitting next to me, but quickly wriggled up into my lap.
My first set of letters was the word CAT. I was about to draw a picture of a cat when T said:
"That spells Cat!"
"Yes!" I exclaimed. I felt the familiar rush of adrenaline when T's synapses made a connection. "I did not even need to draw a picture."
"Nope, you didn't, Dad. I know Cat."
I continued to write some familiar words: Dog, SiSi, CVS. He needed a hint for STOP. "We see this one a lot when we are driving around."
"Oh, Stop! That is the word." Exclaimed T.
When T did not recognize a word, we worked on sounding it out.
Then when T seemed to be getting tired we moved onto pictures. He drew rainbows and suns and raindrops. I drew the names of the items on a separate piece of paper.
My mind kept wandering back to an interesting software design problem at work. I had to continuously bring my focus back to the present. This was the only place on earth that I wanted to be. Whenever I caught myself daydreaming I would draw something.
This time I drew an alien looking dog, but Tommy recognized it.
"That's a funny looking dog, Dad."
"Yes, it is T."
We finished by cleaning up the kitchen. T put away the silverware. He also took all of his plates out of the dishwasher and put them away.
"I bet I'll get a big high five for that Dad!"
"I don't know if you can jump that high, T."
He did. Next we went upstairs to bed.
We told stories about me and T turning ourselves into fish. We became the dad and boy from Finding Nemo. Neither of us has seen the movie, but we talked about all of the things that we saw in the ocean. I drew on our experience at the New England Aquarium for most of my ideas.
"Look T, a Sea Lion"
"Yeah, he is pretending to be a shark."
I had forgotten that the sea lion at the aquarium had imitated a shark. I laughed in amazement and rubbed T's head. Time for sleep Nemo.
"One more dinosaur story!"
I told T the story of Chompers being born in A Land Before Time Then I lied down next to his bed and waited for his snores. They came in 15 seconds.
I jumped up and ran downstairs for a quick trot on the treadmill. My wife and daughter got home just as I came up from the basement.
I listened to my wife recount her night for the next hour, after we put L to bed. It sounded like a fun dinner. I am really proud of her for helping the church. She also sounded like she was able to make some people feel really comfortable at the dinner. That is always a nice thing.

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