(Editor’s Note: The following is a reprint from 2012 as the writer is on vacation this week.)
Driving around with the kids can be quite entertaining these days, due largely to the element of surprise that’s always looming.
What’s great is most of the time the kids are laughing at each other and that’s never a bad thing to see in the rearview mirror. What’s interesting is discovering what’s causing it.
There’s nothing quite like the sound of your kids laughing together, and that seems to happen most often in the vehicle on our way somewhere.
Whether it’s an odd game of peek-a-boo between them, a funny video playing (currently Barney is the popular request), Beckett’s penchant for kicking the back of my seat (aggravating, yes) or some sort of toddler communication code, Beckett and Carson seem to generally get a thrill from a ride.
Beckett is now at the age that he likes to announce everything and give a detailed play-by-play account of what’s happening around him.
For instance, if Carson has fallen asleep in the car as he’s prone to do, Beckett makes sure his parents are aware of it immediately.
What’s interesting is it flows both ways, just in different fashions.
Carson has a way of letting us know what Beckett is up to without even saying anything. Our youngest is still a quiet boy, who tends to observe more than verbalize his thoughts at this point in his life. That’s why when he makes a sound, whether it’s a cry, scream, laugh, giggle or whatever, he has our absolute attention.
On the way somewhere last weekend, a big laugh from Carson immediately caused Pam and me to see what had tickled him.
It turned out it was Beckett’s pointer finger halfway up his nose that had caused him to laugh. Being a guy, one who is unfortunately in touch with his immature side, I laughed as well, while Pam, who often has to don the disciplinarian’s hat, reminded Beckett how inappropriate it was.
Even at this young age, it seems they are both actively reporting on each other, and I like that.
Taking the time to smell the proverbial roses is a key to living a balanced and happy life, in my opinion.
I understand this full well, but that doesn’t mean I always am able to do it.
Like anyone else, there are moments when life overwhelms and it can be challenging to view matters with a big picture mentality.
However, every once in a while comes a situation that truly does open my eyes to all the blessings of life.
While in the backyard with Beckett last Sunday, my boy got a little winded running around with me and the dogs. After telling me that in his own cute and clever way (“Beckett’s so tired”), he eventually sat down on our fire pit and instructed me to join him in only the way that a toddler can.
“Daddy, you sit down right here, Daddy now,” he said, demonstratively pointing to the desired site, which had me knee-to-knee with my little guy.
We proceeded to have a long conversation on a wide variety of subjects, confirming how a toddler’s mind races from various subjects.
Over the course of what turned out to be about 30 minutes, we talked and talked about a number of matters, including why the dogs tend to do their business by one side of the fence, rather than elsewhere.
He was fascinated by the fact the dogs tended to one area when it comes to their daily work. He was obsessed by it and still mentions it days later.
That, of course, was an opportune time to discuss potty training and explain how dogs do their business outside and big boys do their business on the “potty,” something he still has not mastered yet. He steered away from that topic quickly.
Later, we talked about how blue the sky was, how “very puffy” one particular cloud was and how it made him feel. He proceeded to tell me “how that cloud might rain” and that “Daddy and Beckett might have to get Mommy to get their jackets.”
A few minutes of odd conversations persisted until he wanted me to rehash the story of the power outage from a month or so ago that left us stranded in the bathroom for a few minutes (although it seemed like hours).
I have told this story so many times over the course of the last month or so that I have begun unintentionally embellishing it to keep me interested. He hangs on every word and gets quite a kick out of it. What was a five-minute outage is now an hour or two in my story to him.
What I marveled over was how I could stop telling the story, and he would pick it up and keep telling it in his own 2-year-old broken English.
It was a great half-hour spent one-on-one with my oldest son just talking in the backyard, and those are precious times.
Special moments happen often in life, and my family is a big part of that for me.
Like other busy types, I just need to do a better job of not letting these memorable exchanges and occurrences pass me by without taking notice.
That’s a little advice to all young parents out there juggling personal and professional matters. Life will never be more hectic than it is currently, as multi-tasking rules the day.
However, when possible, just keep it simple, as years from now I will look back on these days and marvel how remarkable they were. Insist on it and make it happen. The day starts and ends at the home, and nothing’s more important than that.