I know I’ve talked about this before. About my heart melting. And about my kids making me smile, inside and out.
But I’ve had a couple of things happen to me recently that I simply can’t be quiet about.
Hey, I don’t even want to be quiet about them.
As a dad, there are moments you need to cherish. There’s the ones that every dude will admit to. First time you hold your daughter or son. You know, those ones.
Yes, I loved every one of the cliché moments. I have no problem telling people about them. But I’m not here to regurgitate those. I’m here to tell you about a couple of things that have made my heart thump with happiness, and melt with emotion.
My middle child, Amalie, who is 4, started kindergarten this week. She’s one of the funniest people I’ve ever known. She utters gems every day, and because I’ve shared a number of them on Twitter and Facebook, I’ve had more than a couple of people who have encouraged me to write a book of Amalie-isms. She says some funny stuff, and it’s even better because she doesn’t realize it. She’s just being herself.
My daughter Abigail, who’s 8 and started Grade 4 this week, had some reservations and was a touch nervous about going back to school. She asked if we would escort her to her class on the first day of school. Nothing unconventional there. I did just that, and she was fine. The moment came when Amalie listened to Abigail voicing her opinion on school and wanting an escort to class. Amalie said, “I’m just fine, Mom and Dad. Drop me off outside and I’ll see you at lunch.” That kid makes me laugh.
Another moment that made me choke back a tiny tear was when I received a picture from my wife on my phone. She had just dropped off both our girls at school. And for the first time ever, she captured this:
I love that my girls love each other so much, and although they fight and can’t always figure each other out, it’s times like this (even when they’re walking away) that just melt my heart.
Speaking of getting along, my daughters have long slept together when they’re allowed. During school, they only get to on weekends, but in the summer, they’ll sleep together almost every night. Sometimes they fall asleep within seconds, and I can hear the measured rhythm of their breathing before I get to the end of the hallway. Sometimes they stay up and talk about things that just make my wife and I laugh. They’re so cute, yet they’re so earnest! And sometimes, well sometimes, it gets hairy and we end up with a giggle-party, or an all-out pillow fight. But whatever happens, they never seem to fight at bedtime. It’s always been a special thing for them to share.
Andon, our son who is 20 months old, sleeps in his crib. We’re very grateful to be blessed with kids that go to bed easily and have always been great sleepers from very early on. But there’s been a disruption in the force. This week, Abigail asked if Andon could sleep in her bed once. We considered it, but ended up saying no. It was late that night, past her bedtime, and he has never slept in a real bed before. The declination went over fine, and it wasn’t brought up again.
Friday rolled around, and suddenly it was brought up again. We said probably not, but when the girls go upstairs to go pee, brush their teeth, wash their faces, and get their jammies on, they can take Andon with them. Once they’re ready to go to bed, they always wait for me – it’s our tradition that I put them to bed every night. I read to them, we say our prayers, we talk for a bit, I tickle them like crazy, they ride on my back and then I tuck them in. And shower them with kisses.
This Friday would be different. While they were waiting for me, we said they could take Andon into the bed and hang out with him and when I came to put them to bed, I’d take him and put him in his crib. “OK, Daddy. That’s fun!”
When I came up, I found an adorable scene. Predictably, Amalie, exhausted from her first week of school, had already fallen into a coma-like sleep. Abigail and Andon were “discussing” things, and suddenly I realized this was one of those moments I didn’t want to say no to. So I said yes. Abigail was ecstatic, and promised to fall asleep. I warned them – if I hear you two after 10 minutes, Andon is going to his bed. They both told me they understood – in different languages. I pushed a chair up to the bed, so Andon wouldn’t fall and backed out, warning them again and trying to be stern, I-mean-it Dad.
After 30 minutes, Aimie and I went to check on our babies. And this is what we found:
All three asleep, peaceful. Amalie uncovered, as usual, and snoring. As usual. Abigail, gently breathing, with a slight smile on her lips. And Andon, out cold, with his hand resting, as if for security, on his sister.
It made my heart melt.
I can’t imagine a single day without my kids, and I’m trying to remember every single moment I have with them. Make sure you do the same. The day will come where the moments with your kids will become rarer, and you can’t stop time. They’ll never be the kids they are today, so don’t let a single day slip out of your grasp.
Enjoy them, love them, and soak it up.
You only get one chance at it.
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