Once upon a time, a good old fashioned monkey pile took place as regularly as a heart beat. Instead of being the rarity that is has become, a romp on the floor occurred frequently, accompanied by hearty amounts of laughing and skinned-up elbows.
Then circumstances forced me to change careers. And shifts. So now I work 2nd. And I miss by boys.
We still make time for goofing around, but my boys are getting older and aren’t always so ready to play with their dear old dad. This picture was taken over four years ago, at the height of our monkey pile era. I was home in the morning when the kids were shuffling out to door to meet the school bus, and when they returned home from school they knew it was only a matter of a few hours before I too would return home and spend some time with them.
Homework? Yeah I can help with that!
Toss the football? Sure, I’m up for that too!
A movie after dinner? Just so it’s not The Emperor’s New Groove – again. We knew that one by heart.
And then it was time for Squeeze-Smoosh. It’s not very complicated. Just tuck one child with heavy eyelids into bed, wrap your arms around them tightly and give them five things: a squeeze (sort of a really tight hug, the kind of hug that squeezes all the stuffing out), a smoosh (to bring all the giggles to the surface), a tickle (to extricate said giggles), a zerbert (the wetter the better), and then a big kiss.
“Squeeeeeeze. Smooooooosh. Tickle! Zerbert! Kiss.”
Repeat as necessary to ensure plenty of smiles and a good night’s sleep.
Of course my oldest is now way too old and cool for Squeeze-Smooshes. But the younger ones still request them on occasion, on weekend evenings when I’m home to help shove them in bed.
Gone are the days of such carefree moments. I now get up at 6ish to get the oldest off to middle school. We see each other for about twenty minutes. And if he stays up until after I get home from work, I see him for maybe another half hour. That’s less than an hour a day in which I get to see my son. And that time is rarely quality time. It’s usually rush rush rush. Get in the shower! Eat something! The bus is pulling around the corner, so you better hurry up! And then, Son you better get to bed. Real connection is rare. On occasion, I’ll (intentionally or not, I can’t quite figure out) miss seeing the bus go by and I’ll have to take him to school. Those fifteen minutes are precious to me, even if it is just jamming to some Metallica or Linkin Park and being near him so I can watch him gaze out the window at a hawk or play some air guitar and tap his muddy shoe on my dashboard.
I whisper I love you and wonder if he can even hear those words above the din of his teen years rushing by at breakneck speed.
I see the other kids for about an hour before they head to the bus stop, but they’ve been tucked in and are already dreaming when I pull into the garage.
So while they are gone I sit here alone, or in our office within arm’s reach of my wife who’s finding me more and more boring as the days slide by, or at school surrounded by people with whom I have so little in common, watching the clock tick off the minutes, trying to find a reason to believe my kids when they say that I’m really a good dad, and slouching toward the inevitable moment when I have to hop in the car and head to work.
Where I’ll stand at my machine and do my part to keep the HVAC industry afloat while at the same time trying to see clearly through teary eyes. I wipe away the tears as I wipe away the years. And I’m a mess . . .