Need I even point out that the worst aspect of temporarily misplacing our dog over the weekend was the effect that it had on the little guy? Probably I need not. But for completeness’s sake, let me sketch it out a bit more.
As much to head off a potential meltdown-level tantrum as anything, when it was decided on Sunday afternoon that I would walk around the neighborhood looking for and calling out to our dog, it was concurrently decided that I would take the little guy with me. So I strapped him into his stroller and set off to comb the cul-de-sacs in our vicinity. And at first the little guy was entirely helpful to the cause. Every time I called out the dog’s name, the little guy would echo me, and in a nice throaty register that carried pretty well, to boot. That’s my boy. Of course, we were a few neighborhoods away from where our pooch had ended up by that point and would later be retrieved from, so all the yelling was moot.
I think I mentioned that it was a hot, muggy afternoon, too. And loud yelling can be fairly taxing under any circumstances. Eventually I noticed that the little guy was no longer echoing my calls; at first I assumed that he had simply gotten bored of the repetitive nature of it all, but when I asked the little guy a direct question and he failed to answer, I realized that he had simply fallen asleep. I continued shouting our dog’s name but the little guy slept through it all, until we made it all the way back to our house and I physically unloaded him from the stroller.
At that point it was almost dinner time, so my wife took the baby girl in her car to drive around on mutt-spotting patrol, leaving me alone with the little guy to make an attempt at feeding him. And there we were, standing in the kitchen, the little guy still baked from cruising around outside and cranky with being recently roused from a pretty deep sleep and generally hungry, and without warning he burst into tears and wailed “I WANT MY DOGGIE!” So yeah, that was definitely the worst. I was worried about the dog having been hit by a car, concerned that my wife would be saddened if the dog did not eventually turn up (as I kept promising he would) and all manner of other consternations, but my son crying was far and away the emotional bottoming out.
So, good thing the dog did turn up safe and sound after all. I’m just choosing not to think about what we’ll do at the end of his natural lifespan.
But, you know, one day you confront the bleak possibility of losing a beloved (relatively speaking) family pet, another day you go to a three-year-old’s birthday party and everything is bright balloons and sugar rushes. And that’s where we were last night. I picked up the kids from daycare, swung out to my wife’s place of business where she had arranged her schedule to be able to clock out early, and the four of us proceeded to the multi-moonbounce playhouse where we’ve been known to take the little guy to blow off steam from time to time. They do birthday parties too, of course, even on weeknights. (I think the necessity of a Wednesday evening party was dictated by the fact that the mom works weekends as a nurse, so I can get behind that without too much problem.)
The little guy had a blast, running around after the birthday girl and occasionally making very gentlemanly offers to catch her as she slid off the base of some of the more elevated moonbounces. Despite only being three and a half weeks younger, our little guy is noticeably smaller than the princess in question, so on one occasion when I observed the offer accepted, the birthday girl basically landed on top of my son and flattened him. I had seen a similar scenario play out earlier in the day, with one of the little guy’s male peers at daycare falling on top of him accidentally, which caused the little guy to pitch a fit. Birthday girl lands on him, he gets up and dusts himself off with no concern whatsoever. Chivalry never hurts, apparently.
Loud but gallant. Flesh of my flesh, he is.
Anyway, not for nothing did I call the birthday girl “princess” since it was a Disney Princess themed party and the little lady’s celebratory outfit consisted of a pink shirt, pink tights, a glittery pink fairy-tutu, and I’m seeing a tiara in my mind’s eye but that might just be a completist projection. Still, she did it up princess-style and more girl-power to her. The facility also offered a giant, inflatable throne where the birthday child (it’s a fairly unisex primary colored throne) is intended to sit while they open their gifts. My favorite part was when one of the older children handed the birthday girl a gift bag, which proved to be so heavy that she slowly slid out of the throne, dragged from her vinyl seat by the sheer weight.
The little guy’s dinner that night consisted of three bites of pizza (two of which were all crust), half a cupcake, two full-sized Capri Sun pouches, and a packet of Goldfish crackers from his goody bag. I thought about giving him the marshmallow rope to eat on the way home just to see what would happen, but my less masochistic side prevailed. And when we got home there was no bath, just a quick change to pajamas, a long story, and a face-scrubbing and tooth-brushing before being tucked in an hour later than usual. So pretty close to an ideal day in the little guy’s view, I’m sure.
The little guy continues to amuse all the time, with what he says and the way he says it. He’s getting remarkably adept at doing voices, complete with accents and speaking cadences and characteristic vocal qualities. His impression of Mater in particular has this adorable gravelly quality that kills me.
Then there’s the slightly more poignant death-by-amusement variant. As mentioned, last night bedtime was unavoidably pushed back. When the little guy was finally under the covers with the lights out, I asked him if he wanted me to sing to him. He always wants whoever is putting him to bed to sing to him, but the asking is part of the ritual. And usually the singing consists of three songs, two about driving and one wordless lullaby (the “doo-doo-doos”). However, last night the answer coming from the little guy was, “Just sing one song. The song about the moon.” We had been making up a song about the moon on the drive home because we could see it rising in the sky, so I obliged him and sang it again. It wasn’t very long. And when I had finished, the little guy very contentedly gave the following direction: “Now go away.”
And so I did. He kills me.