The Drain.

So tonight I watched the water drain out of the tub for the first time since I was a kid. I think. At least I don’t remember watching it for a long time, so I’m assuming it probably happened quite a long time ago.

Tonight we gave Sebo the option to take a bath or to not, and he chose to not. He loves baths, so I was a little surprised, but it was no big deal. When the clock hit eight and it was time to head back to his bedroom and start getting ready for bed, he decided he wanted to take a bath after all. At first I told him he’d missed his chance, and he acted like he was crushed (maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t – it’s hard to tell, the boy’s a natural). And then it hit me that he’s not asking to drive the Tuscon or telling me he’s wanted a cat his whole life – he’s asking to bathe. In a lot of households that’s like he’s saying he wants to eat his sprouts and put away the dishes. So I quickly changed my tune and told him he could have a bath for ten minutes, and that I was going to set the timer and when the timer rang, we needed to get out and get ready for bed. He agreed.

So he took his bath as I sat on the floor beside him and we played with the numbers and letters that magically cling to the porcelain, and the plastic boats, and the Buzz Lightyear scrubby sponge thing and blue shark that both shoot water out of their mouths. We had fun like we usually do, and after ten minutes we heard the Marimba beat coming from my iPhone and that meant it was time to get out.

Our tub has one of those old-timey white rubber stoppers with a chain on the end, which we thought was kinda strange when we moved into the place, but it’s really no big deal and I actually think they are kinda neat. We pulled all the letters and numbers and toys out of the tub so nothing would get lost down the drain, and then as he likes to do, Sebo pulled the chain and popped out the stopper. Then he turned onto his stomach and watched the water start to go down. I decided to stop drying the toys or whatever I was doing and watch with him.

That’s when we both saw the little water tornado that forms as it’s going down the drain. He saw it and looked up at me and we shared a smile, and then he looked back. I thought about telling him that it was kind of like a tornado, but then didn’t want to chance scaring him, and then thought aren’t they called something else when they are out in the water? A spout or something? Can’t remember. Then I thought about telling him how if we were in Argentina it would be spinning in the opposite direction, but then I would have to figure out how to explain where Argentina was, and so I didn’t tell him that either. So we just sat there in silence, watching something together that happens a billion times a day, sharing a moment that made such an ordinary thing special to us, and I wondered how many thousands of these little moments I’m missing every single day because I’m in such a hurry and don’t just slow down and be.

A Letter to Dads.

So I made a list yesterday of all the dads I know … not my own dad or my friends’ dads, but I guess the dads who are “colleagues” of mine – the ones who are within five or ten years of my own age. The first thing that surprised me – besides the fact that I know quite a few more dads than I thought I did – was how many really great dads I know. Dads who are taking their roles seriously, who are loving their wives and adoring their kids; Men who are opening up to their sons and showing them that it’s okay to be human; Men who are teaching their daughters to believe in themselves. These dads are preparing their children for the life ahead of them, and not just by mindlessly regurgitating what their fathers taught (or didn’t teach) them. These men are leading their families by serving them, not just themselves. To put it this way: I’m surrounded by a surprising number of truly good men who are really doing a great job being “Daddy,” and I hope I can learn a lot from them.

It’s feeling a little bit like the past generations of fathers who bottle up their feelings or think that boys shouldn’t play with dolls and that girls shouldn’t take shop class or that walking out on your family is somehow not a big deal – is going the way of the dinosaur. Not that they are extinct yet, but the idea gives me some hope.

It’s a stark contrast. Out of more than fifty dads I could think of, nearly every one of them is not only very engaged and involved with their children on a daily basis, but they are actually still married to their childrens’ mothers. Some for more than twenty years. It’s not the kind of thing you tend to see reported on CNN. In a country where there’s a daily discussion of how the family unit is breaking down and the divorce rate is 50 percent and young people don’t want to get married anymore, maybe all of this is actually a good thing. Maybe these days people who get married and have children are going to mean it. Perhaps because so many of our own parents are divorced, or our dads left town when we were kids, or they didn’t leave town but were emotionally unavailable tough-guys, or who-knows-what kind of messed up family lives each of us had growing up – maybe the pendulum is finally slowing down to a manageable middle ground where we are getting married not because it’s just that thing that we do because society says so, but because we have made that huge decision to devote our lives to our families.

So with that, dads, my plea to you is this: stay with your family. All it takes is a tiny seed of doubt that grows out of control, and in a few years you’ve left your family for the allure of greener grasses. Please stay engaged with your kids, stay in love with your wife, keep a soft, grace-filled heart and remember that the way to truly lead your family is by humbly serving their needs.

 

Laundry.

Does anyone else have one of those awesome high-efficiency-front-loading washer/dryer combos that has the capability to turn every piece of clothing inside out? I’m not even mad, I’m impressed. I’m thinking about pre-turning my shirts inside out when I take them off to be even more efficient.

This is great.

I absolutely love that Target is using a little boy in their ads who has Down syndrome … and not calling attention to it. It’s not an ad about disability. It’s not an ad asking to join a cause. It’s just an ad and he’s just a kid. The boy is six years old and his name is Ryan, and he was also in a Nordstrom catalog. You can read an article about him here, but this quote sums it up for me:

The best thing about Target and Nordstrom’s casting of Ryan is that he’s not singled out in any way — he’s just another super cute kid smiling for the camera. The ads are inclusive, yet they aren’t trying to prove a point. They come across as completely ordinary, which in this case is a really wonderful thing.

 

Two Days.

Sebo loves counting down the days until something happens. It’s his way of understanding the passing of time. He will ask, “Am I going back to Granny’s house in three days?” He understands the phrases soon and in a little while. He gets it when we say we have to leave at 8:45 so he has to start getting dressed at 8:15. One of his favorite Christmas presents was this little red Chick-Fil-A watch that his friend Ben gave to him. He gets time, and strangely always has, which is good because I don’t really know how you teach somebody about time. It’s too weird. And it’s all relative and changes constantly and then they are bound to ask if time travel is possible, and I just don’t know how to deal with it. In the end I usually just refer people to Back To The Future or Kate & Leopold and let them decide for themselves.

What was I talking about?

Oh right. To sum up, the kid digs time.

Sebo has one of those little potties in his room that we have to empty after he uses it. He also uses the regular bathroom, which he calls My Big Potty, and is right next to his bedroom, but he likes having options. As long as he’s using something other than diapers, I’m cool with it. Yesterday he wanted me to help him turn on some lights so that he could go to the potty. I did, following behind him so I could turn the lights on, and he went into his room to use what he calls My Little Potty. As soon as he entered his room, he turned to me, asked me to wait in the bathroom for him, and as he was closing his bedroom door for privacy he yelled out “for two days.”

Friends.

School started back today after nearly three weeks of winter vacation. It’s been a bit crazy having the little guy home all this time and trying to still work (seeing as how our home office is three feet from the living room) but overall it’s been fun. Actually it’s been a lot of fun. We spent lots of time in our pajamas playing Wii or coloring in books or stacking Legos. And he is SO fun to be around, I don’t know what kind of phase he’s in right now but his mannerisms are ridiculously cute.

But he is ready to get back to being with his friends. Half the time (at least) that he was off he was sick. And now he’s feeling better and he is so ready to run and jump and laugh and chase all of his friends that he hasn’t seen in weeks. Which is a really sweet thing, seeing him, even at 3 (and a half) years old, develop friendships with other kids. Some are from school, some are from church, some are just from life. At home we know all their names. Lucas. Noah. Zack. Campbell. Nolan. Abby. Cash. Joshua.

At the end of last year at pre-school Sebo’s teachers gave him a photo album full of shots they had taken of him and his friends throughout the year. As the winter break grew long, at least once a day he handed the book to us and asked us to read it to him. He definitely loves his mommy and daddy but he misses his friends. And he’s proud of his relationships with them.

School.

Getting ready to take Sebo to school after his winter break. This is the shirt I'm wearing so all the other parents know who they're dealing with.

 

 

Awesome in a bottle

Math + PediaSure.

Awesome in a bottleMy son drinks PediaSure® every morning for breakfast. It’s full of nutrients and our pediatrician recommended it. He calls it his Teddy-BaBa*. He’s always been a super picky eater (the opposite of me) so this is a way for him to get his vitamins every day that he might not willingly get otherwise. They come in packages of six (occasionally for under ten bucks if you know where to shop), and Sebo is well aware of this. We ran out of them yesterday and bought more last night. This morning we broke one out of the pack for him. He took it, drank it, and then told me “we still have six.” I said back to him “no, there are only five now.” “NO we still have six!” he said. I picked up the package and walked over to him. “Okay, how about you count them?” He pointed his finger at each one: “One … Two … Three … Four … Six!” He giggled and said again “We still have six.” And he was right. He had taken number five apparently. This is my son.

* When we first started buying them, there was a teddy bear on the packaging, and he used to call bottles BaBas, and thus Teddy BaBa was invented.

Nap.

Sebo is asleep. Most of the time Michelle and I take turns laying down with him to help him fall asleep. Actually replace “most of the time” with “pretty much every time.” But I don’t mind. In fact, I look forward to it. He falls asleep on his own at friends’ houses and at school, and he has been known to drift off from time to time on his own at home too. But mostly he likes to cuddle with us so he can let go and fall asleep. And I know he’s three (and a half). I know there are people who think we shouldn’t let him run our lives this way, that we’re the parents and he needs to go to bed when and how we say, and we shouldn’t be doing this attachment parenting thing. But this is the way we like it. For now anyway. I am well aware that this won’t last. He won’t always want to be held, or to be snuggled. He’s got his whole life ahead of him when he can fall asleep on his own, in his own bed. And anytime he wants to, he can and we will be happy. But if he wants to be held, or wants to hold us, or wants to crawl into our bed to soothe a bad dream, then his mommy and me want to give that to him. It’s a small thing for us to do and it matters a whole lot. And sometimes, even as adults, I think there are times where we all just want to be held by someone we love so that we can just. let. go.