Sometimes I realize I’m unintentionally following a sort of “strict” pattern for parenting. Like sticking to a regular bedtime, eating vegetables instead of cake for dinner. In this (and so many other things), David is pretty perfect at helping me loosen up a bit without ever telling me that’s what I need.
Last night, we stayed up a little later than we had planned because our BAR STOOLS arrived in the mail, and we were excited to put them together and, of course, sit in front of the bar on them. We’ve had a spot for them for a whole year but no space in our budget for the actual chairs. Anyway, it was almost 11pm by the time we had finished chair assembly, and suddenly David was pulling out his remote-controlled helicopter. I was immediately amused because this just isn’t something he does on his own much. Although the helicopter was his 34th birthday present, Judah is the one who is the most thrilled by it and requests the “hocter with Dad” almost every day lately. David asked me why I was laughing, and I told him I was just surprised because he usually only flies it with Judah.
“I was just going to get him,” he told me.
What?! I thought about telling him this wasn’t a good idea, but I didn’t say anything. Just let it happen, because Judah is a really incredible sleeper and, although I never really take advantage of this skill, he really can go right back to bed after being woken up. So out of his dark bedroom came sleepy, disoriented Judah. David had turned off the lamps in the living room so the only light was the red and blue one flashing from the little helicopter. I got to sit with Judah, and we all counted down. By the time we got to zero, Judah was excited and said his usual “wifftoff!” Then for 3 or 4 minutes we watched the flight of the red and blue flashing helicopter, and Judah followed its every move up and around the ceiling fan, past the pillar behind the couch, over by us to say “hello.” (“Hello, hocter!“)
Then it was over. Judah said goodnight to the hocter, and disappeared back into his dark room for the rest of his sleep. When I asked David why he did that, he told me he wanted to be a great dad, and that his Dad would do fun things for them at odd times. He remembers being up late at night once when they lived in Hawaii. His Dad had the telescope set up in the yard, and they could see Jupiter and its little moons. Probably this wasn’t something they regularly did, but that’s the funny thing about childhood memories. Some of the ones that stand out are good parts of usual days, but more of mine are from something that just happened once or twice. Like when my siblings and I set up an elaborate stuffed animal play and gave out candy (for some reason) during the show. Or when my Dad had my sister and I go out to the chicken coop in the middle of the night to see a boa constrictor that had eaten one of our pets. And when the river below our house flooded half the village and we sloshed around in the dark to see how roads looked when they were underwater.
I guess I’m just saying this to remind myself to have fun. The routines are so important, and I know they hem in my growing babies in a really important way. But on the safe canvas of a routine I don’t want to forget to splash in the fun things. Because if they’re like me, that’s what they’ll remember.