“Dadda, you gotta snuggles me.”
Ten minutes pass, or at least what feels like ten minutes. Who really knows/or is brave enough to open their eyes and accidentally make eye contact.
“Dadda I gotta go pee pee on da potty. You don’t come.”
Twelve footsteps down the hall and 8 seconds pass.
“Dadda you come help. DADDA YOU HELP ME!”
In a whisper, “ok ok buddy. Be quiet. Momma and Benny boo are sleeping.”
I tip toe out of the room and down the hall to find Declan doing his best to make his “pee pee” into the toilet.
His best, of course, results with half in the bowl and half on his undies, still around his little ankles.
“Dadda you help me?”
“Sure thing buddy.”
I help get him dressed into something a little more…well…less covered in “pee pee”.
Once dressed, he bolts to the couch and demands one of his three rotational shows.
This is how our days start. A bonding moment of father and son just trying to master what so many of us take for granted. An early morning rise of excitement from one, and a sleepy eyed might-as-well-embrace-it attitude from another.
“Ok buddy, dada is gonna take a shower. You stay here and let me know if you need anything.”
Step into shower to hopefully wash away the sleepies and get my day going right.
“Ouch what the $%^& son of a B%^&* WHY ARE THERE LEGOS IN THE SHOWERRRRR!”
Don’t worry that is uttered under my breath and only screamed within my own head…most of the time.
As I kick the toys in the shower to the corner, I soak my head and pray daily.
I pray for a lot of things.
I reflect about a lot of things.
And I try to be grateful for the throbbing pain in my foot from that damn Red Lego still in our shower.
I am grateful for being a dad.
Some people can say what they have always dreamed of becoming.
I wanted to be a Dr., until I was told I wasn’t smart enough.
I wanted to be an architect, until I was told how much school would cost.
I wanted to be an FBI agent, until I watched Silence of the Lambs.
But of all my wants I have always known I NEED to be a dadda.
From a very young age, I dreamed of having a family.
Having kids and being a part of their lives.
One could assume it was a way to deal with my own abandonment issues.
But I simply do not think that’s the case. My father was never around, but I still had an awesome dad who taught me how to ride a bike, catch, play Horse, and that even men cry.
My mom stepped in as a father figure too. She went to every game and yelled at the refs. She didn’t baby me when I fell off my bike, and most importantly, she trusted me to make right decisions. Even when I made the wrong ones she was there on my side.
Back to being a dadda…
It was ingrained into me. The thought of someone being a part of me who can ultimately surpass me in every way, excites me.
These two little monsters that are so incredibly different can be the absolute best of me in so many incredible ways.
They make the stepping on the Green Lego so worth it.
Park in the driveway. Lock car. Walk to front door. Keys out. Rattling door handle to unlock.
“Benny Benny Boo Boo whatcha doing!!!”
My excitement to see my boys fills the air and in return I get the Wyatt Earp waddle as fast as he can coming towards me and a hit or miss three year old who can’t wait to tell me about his oh so busy day.
(By busy I mean 8 hours of figuring out every button momma has and how to push them).
It’s these moments that make the Yellow Lego so worth it.
It’s become abundantly clear that bath time is guy’s time.
Momma can now start to unwind and start dinner while Dadda gaffles up the troops and gets the water going.
“Declan do you want bubbles?”
“No dada no bubbles. I want to take a baff too!”
After the water has filled, the turbulence has settled, and without skipping a beat.
“Dadda I want bubbles. Please dada Bennett wants bubbles too.”
Palm on forehead.
“Declan its too late for bubbles now. I asked you and you said no bubbles. Maybe tomorrow, okay?”
This is where I tense up and I squint one eye.
Is he going to say “ok” or is he going to throw a fit over bubbles he will no doubt want me to rid of after they have been made?
The bath is a neutral zone for our boys. This is where they understand it’s an even playing field.
They laugh and play innocently, as little naked monsters do.
The interaction between these two growing brothers alone makes stepping on the Blue Lego, so worth it.
The time we all have been waiting for:
I think it’s this moment most parents can relate to.
It’s the time of day where the kids go to bed and the parents can finally be whatever they damn well want to be.
For Andrea and I, it’s usually some kind of Netflix binge with a glass or three of wine.
We may play cards on the back deck, go in the hot tub, or play some nostalgic video games.
(She has gotten better at Mario Kart)
But first, it’s the struggle snuggle of getting the boys to bed.
This nightly routine may be odd for some and may very well be normal for others.
We understand each family has their own routine of what works and what is acceptable to one family may be bonkers to another.
Ours plays out like this.
Andrea and I alternate nights on putting boys to bed.
On my night, I have Bennett in one “nest” (armpit area cradling) and Declan in the other.
Declan typically has a toy in his hand and his Goofy in his “nest”.
Bennett of course, is guzzling a bottle to ensure he gets a second one if he finishes before his second wind.
We wind down with an episode of Mickey or Hugglemonsters.
Around 7:00 or 7:30 they boys begin their sleepy eyed descent.
And my night ends as the day began, all over again.
“Dadda you gotta snuggles me.”
I gladly accept his request.
It doesn’t matter what time we go to bed. It can be 9:00 p.m. or midnight, we know Declan will be waking us up before the sun comes up.
So we typically try to be in bed earlier than later.
Our routine works for us.
Even if it does come with an eye roll because I forgot to bring in towels after locking the house up.
Before getting into bed, I transfer Declan to his own bed. I tuck him in and give him a kiss on his forehead.
After all, it’s moments like this that won’t last forever.
I go to get back into bed and pray that my side of the bed is dry.
From what you may ask?
Sadly, two things I must check, as they are my children and being sweaty is a common male trait for our family.
The other…well you guessed it.
It/s not every night or even a regular occurrence, but I do occasionally win the “pee pee” lottery.
Changing the sheets in the dark, I can only imagine, is part of ancient Ninja training. I have mastered it.
Fear me as I fear my side of the bed having a rather large urine soaked wet spot.
Around this time on occasion, Declan climbs over me and once again requests:
“Snuggie me dadda.”
And even at the ungodly hour in the early A.M., it’s moments like this that make stepping on that Red, Green, Yellow, and even the Blue Lego, so worth it.
We get one shot with each of these young people who we are trusted to help develop. I don’t plan on squandering my shot. Through all the snot, the tantrums over simple requests, and the throbbing pain Legos may cause— being a dad is simply the best.
It may not define me, but one day I can imagine it being my greatest accomplishment.
I am blessed to wake up this day and be there for my sons. I wake up knowing I have an example to set. To show these boys love and affection they both so crave and deserve. But at the same time, show a strong presence that they can look up to and desire to become.
Who knows— today, maybe I will pick up the Legos.
Just kidding. It’s 4:22 a.m. and I have more than likely put my polo on inside out again.