I have locked myself in the office, hiding, it would seem, from my son. My precious little boy, who wants nothing more than to be forever joined to me by peanut butter covered fingers entwined around my hand. It is nap time for this little boy, time for him to calm down from a morning of jumping and dancing and running and monster truck crashing. Daddy has come home early from work so that I can have a few hours of uninterrupted time to myself, so that I can attempt to catch up on my work life, a life that, at times, I feel is falling down around me in a tangle of reports, plans, and occupancy forecasts. So it is Daddy running the show now, and Daddy who is trying to convince this little boy attached to me that he should let go of Mommy and take a nap.
My oh so smart little boy counters this nap offer with a demand of his own. He wants to take a bath. We are lucky parents, our child enjoys bath time so much that we cannot say the word aloud until we are ready to complete the cleansing transaction; otherwise our always messy child will stop whatever has his attention at the moment- dinner, play, to run to the stairs for this bath. Daddy lets him get away with this stall tactic. After all, he could probably use a bath since he will be left with our young baby sitter this evening. He does not know this bit of information yet; this type of intelligence is also on a need to know basis for our little boy.
My beautiful baby has been home for the past three days, which means that Mommy and Daddy have been taking turns being at home as well. Somehow (read: day care) he contracted Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease. Yes, this is a real thing. I was surprised too. My father used to joke about this disease, saying that I would catch it from kissing boys or playing with frogs. But my son has done neither of these things, and still his mouth is full of blisters that have brought so much pain and discomfort that he has cried for two straight days. Finally last night he slept through the night, and I woke up surprised, rushing to his crib to be sure he was still breathing. It always catches me off guard a little, when life returns to normal after an illness.
He stayed home from day care again today, because he still cannot eat much and he still occasionally bursts into tears from the pain. So when he asks for this bath in an attempt to prolong that inevitable nap, Daddy agrees. Mommy would have agreed too.
I sit at the desk in the locked office and listen through the wall to my son splashing in the tub. I cannot make out the conversation he is having with Daddy but it sounds as though it is about one of the many toys taking up space around him, floating in the water. He has learned that these toys spit water, and he spends much of his bath time trying to hold the wet, slippery toy under the water long enough to gather the perfect amount of the liquid so that when he squeezes it the clear stream reaches to the ceiling. He has come close a few times already. It is not long, I think to myself, before this small boy figures out how to squeeze the air out of the toy just before the plunge into the water, so that it fills up completely. He is so smart, this child of mine.
I hear the bath scene coming to a close, and then the familiar wrestle/dance of putting clothes back on a squirmy, wet child. Yesterday I left him alone in his room for a few minutes and when I came back in he was sitting on top of the changing table, looking quite smug. I stifled my first instinct, which was to pull him down and reprimand him for climbing. I wanted to lecture him on the dangers of playing on high furniture, how it says right on the tag to the table not to leave a child atop it unattended. For heaven's sake, the thing comes with a seat belt. But I chose, instead, to ask him to show me how he got up there. Very proudly he climbed down the side of the table, using the shelves as ladder steps. Once on the floor again he promptly climbed right back up, tucked his legs underneath him and demanded a story. This, it seems, is his new story time place, where he will sit like a little prince and listen to his favorite books. When he realizes that I am not going to stand over him with the book so that he can see the pictures he climbs down and into my waiting lap. This, you see, was his decision, and therefore it is OK that he abandons his new favorite spot in lieu of his old one, Mommy's lap in the big comfy chair in the corner of his room.
He is dressed now, and I hold my breath as I hear little footsteps heading my way. The knob begins to turn, just a little, as it is still locked. Unable to break in the traditional way, he begins to pound on the door with what sounds like a match box car. I hear Daddy tell him to come back to his room for his pre nap time story. I sense my little boy is torn at these choices. Does he stay and cry for Mommy, who he knows is right on the other side of this locked door? Or does he go back to Daddy, where a book, or two, if he plays his cards right, is waiting for him? Eventually I hear the metal car slide down the door as he lowers his arm and heads back to his room. I hear the muffled sounds of stories and whispered promises of what is to come after this nap; a trip to the store, a ride on his favorite toy motorcycle out front on the sidewalk. I let go of the breath I was holding and turn back to my work. I am thankful that my little boy and his daddy get to spend this time together. I remind myself of that as I open yet another e-mail and work on yet another report. Funny, I think to myself, that after two days of giving my undivided attention to my baby, after planning for this time alone to work and even after practically racing upstairs when my husband walked through the door, a part of me still wanted to be the one playing in the tub, or wrestling the slippery child into his clothes, or reading that story, all snugly and warm in the big comfy chair with my precious little boy in my lap.