I swing open the garage door and thrust my arm out at shoulder height, my pointer finger aimed straight at the passenger side doors: “Get in the car!”
I spent the early part of the morning snuggled up with my oldest on the couch, he was watching a Nickelodeon show while I did some reading. It was a perfect start to the day.
But as soon as the middle and youngest came bounding out all hell broke loose, as it has a tendency of doing. Any combination of two of these boys seems to be just fine, but when all three are together the bickering and fighting and screaming turns up a notch. Scratch that. TEN NOTCHES. It was not even 10 am and already I had broken up at least a dozen quarrels between these guys. I was done! I’d had it!
I would have sent them all to their room for a breather, a time-out, but that wasn’t an option. After two failed hearing tests and a perpetual diagnoses of “just a little fluid on the ear” Keaton had a follow-up appointment with the audiologist at 10:20 am, followed by an appointment with the ENT.
As he climbs to his seat in the back I shut the door gently and walk around to the driver’s side. Before opening my door I take a deep breath: inhale vitality, exhale tension (thank you, yoga). I get in the car, adjust my seat, and look into the rear view mirror, “after your appointment I’ll take you out for a special breakfast, how does that sound?”
His eyes light up, “to the place with the milkshakes?”
“Yes, to the place with the milkshakes.” I smile back at him as I put the car in reverse; Denny’s is magical when you are a child.
Keaton’s appointment went well. For the first time in two years his hearing improved and there was no sign of fluid on the ear. The ENT was happy with the results from the audiologist; she was a bit surprised he was able to clear the fluid in the middle of winter. We happily left the office with a clean report and an order to come back if the concerns happen to arise again.
“Two?” the waiter asks as we walk in the door.
We are seated at a booth towards the back of the restaurant. I untape the crayons on the children’s menu and slide it across the table; Keaton immediately gets to work. It’s penguins again, maybe it’s penguins every time? No matter, he colors and I look over the menu. He already knows what he wants: chocolate chip pancakes with sausage and a side of scrambled eggs. Oh, and that milkshake, can’t forget the milkshake. I decide on the Veggie Skillet and Keaton giggles when I order a coffee alongside my milkshake.
I know he is hungry because he didn’t eat breakfast before his doctor’s appointment, but he’s a trooper. We spend our time reading penguin facts, answering penguin true/false, and putting together a penguin mad lib. He laughs audibly when I read it aloud to him and my heart swells. I love spending time with this little boy. I can’t help but become a little nostalgic….the years, they’ve gone so fast. He’s already six. Just last night I was telling each of the kids the story of their birth; it feels like yesterday that the nurse shouted out to us in the wee hours of the morning: “you have a… Keaton!” My heart bursts at the thought, oh, I love him so!
Finally our food comes and he digs in. I’m amazed at how quickly he eats. I pull the third pancake off of the plate assuming we’ll take it home but quickly put it back and cut it up into small pieces. He downs the pancakes, sausage, and half of the eggs and I slide him a glass of water to wash it all down.
As he places the glass back on the table he looks up at me and smiles, “thanks mom, I needed that.”
I smile at him and I can’t help but think: No, thank you. I needed that.
When the demands of parenthood and sibling squabbles become more than you can bear so often a little one-on-one time spent together is far more productive then issuing another time out.