The boys recently gave Tony a Darth Vader shirt with the words "Number 1 Dad In The Galaxy" emblazoned across the front. Charles understands the joke, but Jamie just thinks Darth Vader is cool. Their excitement over seeing him wear it and now calling him “number 1 dad in the galaxy!” at high volume is a good reminder to Tony, too, that our children love him. Not that he doesn't know, but I think he sees them so little and gets to do so few fun activities with them that it's important that he know, and that the boys demonstrate, that they think he's amazing.
I don't envy Tony, though I know many women who are jealous if their husbands. I am simultaneously the "fun parent" and the "mean mom" by virtue of how much time I spend with the kids. Tony is often tired, having worked a nine- or ten-hour day AND studied for his master's classes AND helped with Freddie in the night, so he gets frustrated easily. We all know that small children are nothing if not frustrating.
Charles didn’t like dinner last night, and he chose to tell me in the most constructive manner possible.
I get to teach those boys to be good citizens, often enduring endless tantrums in grocery stores. Like today, when Jamie pulled the water bottle out of Freddie’s mouth while we were making our way through a busy Costco and then started screaming when I told him that he had lost his treat (bribery: it works!). Then Freddie started screaming and Charles started bragging about how well he was behaving.
The root of all my bad habits is boy children: gross amounts of coffee, chocolate addiction, wine consumption…
Then again, I get to see them develop their passions. Charles loves anything physical and is happy when we can spend a few spare moments at the skate park. Jamie, on the other hand, is so enamored with airplanes that he would happily spend all day watching them take off and land. Lucky boy got to tour a B-17 last weekend at the Skagit Regional Airport.
Tony misses out on a lot of fun moments and a lot of difficult moments, but he also misses out on seeing our children deal with setbacks, be kind to their friends, or play nicely with one another. They’re growing and changing and developing their personalities and it really is a trip to watch those small changes every day.
Charles, who goes to first grade next week, has come with me to my office all week while his brothers are in daycare. Instead of complaining, he has crept around the warehouse with the airzooka, eaten his weight in pretzels, and constructed books full of "evil plans" out of copy paper for each of my employees. He's a delight, that kid, and that's not something Tony gets to experience very often.
Yesterday, I initiated Charles into the fine art of folding laundry. All I asked him to do was fold his shorts an his underwear. He complained, threw himself on the floor, and got perilously close to throwing a screaming fit, something of a rarity these days. He'd folded one or two pairs of shorts when I pointed out that most of the underwear in the pile in front of him was inside out. He was mad and frustrated and he picked a pair of underwear up in anger, pushed it down on his head and over his eyes, then flipped it back up over himself so that it was right side out. Then he threw it on the bed with an UGH!, crossed his arms, and looked at me defiantly. I couldn't help it, I burst into laughter. Then Charles started giggling, too. The ham proceeded to fold all his underwear in this manner, giggling the whole time.
I am thankful for this time I have with my children, even if I feel guilty for not being at work more. Perspective, man. Sometimes it just hits you over a pile of clean underwear. I might not be the number one mom in the galaxy, but I get to laugh with my kids daily.