Enjoy the small moments, I told myself for the millionth time since becoming a father.
Last week, as I was about to switch my 3-year-old son’s laundry, I decided it was time to put the lad to work.
“Luke, I need your help!” I called out from the hallway. “Luke, come quick!”
He came running, wearing his tiny socks, his eyes wide with expectation. “What are you doing?” he asked.
“An important job,” I said. “Want to help?”
“Yes!” he said.
“We have to open the washer, and then we have to move all your clothes to the dryer. OK?”
He crouched next to me, feeling important, feeling chosen.
I gave him a handful of wet clothes, and he tossed some of them in.
“This is my underwear,” he said.
“Yes, just toss it in.”
I handed him a towel.
“Who is on this?” he asked, even though he already knew the answer.
“It’s Dora the Explorer,” I said. “Go on, just toss it in.”
One by one, he took an article of wet clothing and provided commentary. What might have taken me 6 seconds ended up taking about 60. I finally gave up and bypassed his less-than-helpful hands. Then he shut the dryer door with a flourish.
“There!” he said. “Got it done!”
He marched down the hall, and I noticed that he was now as tall as the washing machine; it wasn’t that long ago that he’d have to stand on his toes to see the top of it. Enjoy the small moments, I told myself for the millionth time since becoming a father.
Days later, I was feeling annoyed that the pandemic was complicating my birthday plans. My 7-year-old daughter, Kennedy, then interrupted me.
“This was in the mail for you,” she said.
Thinking it might be a birthday card, I looked up. Instead, it was an ad for a weight-loss program.
“Gee, thanks,” I said to no one in particular.
Then Luke called over to me. “Dad can you play cars with me?”
“Uh, sure,” I said.
“Come over here,” he instructed. He crouched and mimed a circle on the floor with his finger and added, “Right here. In this area.”
“OK,” I said, sitting in front of his pile of matchbox-size cars. “What are we doing with the cars?”
“If there’s trouble, the shark car fights the bad guy,” he said. “If there’s no trouble, it just goes.”
I drove a fire engine around the make-believe town, and the shark car did his best to eat the fire engine. His car growled, mine cowered in fear and zoomed across his leg. Luke giggled, and I was reminded how easy it is to give a child a moment of happiness.
Even more so, I was reminded, for the millionth time since I became a father, how easily a child can give me a moment of happiness, as long as I crouch down next to him and allow myself to feel important, feel chosen.