This weekend Kate, Max and I went to a friend’s house for a party where almost everyone had a baby. This might sound terrible to you if you don’t have kids…but as a parent it is so relaxing to be around other parents because you don’t feel like you are completely chasing your child and corralling him away from the adults. Kids cried, played, screamed, bonked, and did what kids do while Mommys and Daddys drank beer and ate bratwurst. Ah Oktoberfest!
Max was delightful and spent most of the party climbing up and down the carpeted stairs which is a treat since the stairs at our house are hardwood. Most of the other kids were only a few months old so I was curious to see how Max would interact with kids almost a year younger than him…and I was pleasantly surprised. We’ve all said since his birth that he has “a great demeanor” but this weekend showed me how great his demeanor could be as a big brother. He was mindful of the babies and aware that they were smaller and fragile, he shared toys, and was very well-behaved. We had a few time-outs but that is to be expected when there are kids everywhere and new surroundings. What I saw was a big brother; A toddler ready to share and set a good example. Of course the big question will be how will he share when it is every day and he has to share our attention?
For me, I found myself being jealous of the other parents who still had babies…not toddlers. The babies sat in their laps, played with simple toys, coo’d, and did all the simple baby things I loved to do with Max. Kate and I kinda got robbed of that time as Max skipped over so much of it in his rapid development…he skipped crawling essentially. It seemed like we had a baby one day and a toddler the next. One of the babies was about 8 months and I couldn’t help remembering that Max was walking by that point and hurdling his body onto the furniture. I miss baby Max…and that was right about the time I got beaned on the face with a fridge magnet by my left-handed throwing beast of a toddler. “Maxilla The Hun” we call him. He lowers his head, grunts as he runs, and tackles me to the floor. Not so little now.
At the end of the party Max was pushing a foot stool around the basement and tackling a pillow. I said, “Okay buddy, time to go home. Please put the stool back.” So Max pushed the foot stool back to where he got it from. One of the other dads looked at this with a tinge of envy for the future while holding his baby and said, “Wow, they actually do what you tell them to?” I replied, “Only when they’re not at home and there is an audience.”
So there I am envying the dads with their babies who coo and crawl. There are the dads envying me playing “tackle” and “catch” with Max who walks everywhere without being carried. The grass is always greener on the other side? I had great comfort knowing that in the Spring I get to be Daddy to a baby all over again and I know the things I’m not going to rush or pass up an opportunity to get. I can’t wait to have a baby nap on my chest. I can’t wait to have a baby to tickle with my nose. I can’t wait to feed my baby a bottle and burp him. I can’t wait to take my new son to his first basketball game. I can’t wait to be a dad to a baby again…and I can’t wait for Max to be a big brother.
We got home and that was when I realized how good Kate and I have got it. Not only does Max sleep through the night (10-12 hours) he is fun to put to bed. Kate and I took him upstairs, I sang him 2 songs while we changed into pajamas, and then Kate read him 2 books. I then turn on his night-light, tucked him into bed, and had every stuffed animal give him a kiss good night. Then he asks, “Eskimo?” I leaned in and gave him an Eskimo Kiss. Next he asked, “Butterfly?” I gave him a Butterfly Kiss. Then he asked, “A Dada kiss?” I asked him, “Where?” Max told me, “Kiss Max’s nose.” Which I did. Then the eyebrows, the cheeks, and lastly the forehead. Then I combed my fingers through his hair massaging his scalp and said “Night, Night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bedbugs bite, I’ll see you in my dreams tonight.” Max yawned and I made my way to the door. “Dada?” I stopped and looked back, “Yes Max?” He quietly said, “I love you.” My heart melted…”I love you too…I love you more.” He parrots me a bit and tells me he loves me more and then I said “I love you thiiiiiiiis biiiiig” and showed him with my arms how big I love him. He shouts this back to me with his arms spread as wide as he can. “I love you buddy, see you tomorrow, night night.” A small yawning voice replied, “Night night…” And then Max was on the highway to REM.
I think the best advise someone gave me about parenting was that in the beginning…right when you think you are at your wit’s end about something, it ends and the next thing begins. Right now I wish I could make time stand still for a moment and soak in moments like that, because it seems like yesterday he was taking naps on my chest and drinking from a bottle. My big boy. Please don’t grow up yet.