Sunday, May 20, 2012

In the home, ears are ringing

“I’m going as fast as I can.  If anything, you’re just slowing me down,” I said, but my two-month-old son Zack remained defiant, pouring every ounce of his energy into making sure I had sufficient motivation to hurry.

“Rinnnnnnnnnng,” he said, or at least that’s what registered in my ears, as Zack explored the upper ranges of what an adult eardrum can handle before it explodes like Greek debt.

“That is totally unnecessary, bro.  I’m already getting your food together.  Okay, okay, take your bottle, you ingrate,” I said, corking his screamhole with the nipple.

As he noshed on the bottle and peace settled over the room, the ruckus upstairs became audible.

“I’m going to count to three, and then I’m going to pick you up and put you in bed,” my wife Kara said.  Tiny footsteps galloped down the hallway as our son Evan shrieked and ran into his bedroom.

The chaos of raising two children often overshadows the tender moments, but they do happen.  

Earlier that evening, Evan stood on a kitchen chair beside me as I prepared scrambled eggs, the only meal I can cook without Mama Celeste’s help.

“That’s juuuust right,” Evan said, shaking pepper into the mixing bowl.  Then we both took out forks and whisked the ingredients together.  I stopped and watched my little sous chef plopping his fork into the mixture, his tongue sticking out with concentration, and the moment caught me just right.  That was my son standing there, wanting nothing more than to help his dad cook dinner.  My son.  Sometimes, I can’t believe that phrase applies to anyone at all, much less someone so insanely adorable when he’s not screaming.

I looked away for a second, feeling a little misty, and when I turned back, Evan was holding out his hand to me, signaling for me to take something.  I offered my hand, and Evan swiped his finger across my palm.

He stared at me, waiting for a reaction, and I realized what had just happened.

“You just wiped a boogie on me, didn’t you?” I asked.

He smiled and nodded.  That’s why they’re called tender moments, not tender hours.

Later that night, I could hear Kara upstairs, trying to extract herself from the bedtime routine.

“Mommy!  Mommy!  Mommy!” Evan yelled.

“What is it?” she asked.

“Zack will like red and blue when he gets bigger,” Evan said.

“Yes, those are good colors,” Kara replied, sighing.

She was caught in the Evan Vortex, the place where logic and reason go at bedtime to be crushed beyond all recognition.  The process takes a while, which is why it exists.  The only way to escape the pull of the Evan Vortex is to put a door between you and the source, and even that isn't always enough.

“Need to go potty,” Evan said, sensing that the door was about to close.

“You just went four minutes ago,” Kara replied.

“Need to go again!” he said.

Evan knows how badly we want him to start using the potty, so at bedtime he becomes more prolific than an incontinent racehorse.

When he returned to bed a few minutes later, I could hear Kara start to swing the door shut.

“Where’s Lamby?” Evan yelled, and Kara sighed again.  Evan spends the day stuffing his sheep-blanket Lamby into obscure crevices of the house, so that by the time you find Lamby and return him to bed, Jimmy Kimmel is already asleep.

But it’s kind of cute that Evan can’t go to bed without snuggling Lamby every night.  It’s like how Kara and I used to be, before we had kids.  Now we just collapse wherever we happen to be standing once the last kid stops screaming.

You can wipe stuff on Mike Todd at

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