I was solo parenting last night as Mrs. Blackwell ventured out on one of her many booze-soaked social calls. Honestly, I don't know how much more of this I can take.
Mrs. Blackwell is like most parents with a full time job in that she rarely ventures out to do anything that qualifies as fun. And when she does, it frequently comes with the caveat that she's stuck with yours truly.
So when opportunities arise to be social and go have fun with people in the outside world, we do our best to encourage one another to partake.
So it was that, 15 minutes after my arrival home from my office, my wife departed and I was hanging with the boy. He was already fed so what ensued was about 20 minutes of me trying to keep up with him while simultaneously eating my dinner.
It's a fun exercise and one that helps keep your wits sharp. One is not easily lost in the flavor of that microwaved pasta dish when strange noises suddenly begin emanating from the family room junior just sauntered into.
So we spent the minutes before bed time playing with his toys, not ripping the pages out of books, not taking pens from the junk drawer that daddy has yet to childproof and not climbing the bar chairs in the kitchen. It was a ton of fun and I'm sure Master Blackwell enjoyed it.
What he didn't enjoy was bumping his head on the corner of our wooden cupboards. But, it proved to be the prelude to a moment that was incredibly sweet and one that makes a parent melt.
So here's the deal. While he's a full-time walker and runner now, the little guy also has a habit of taking steps backward without really looking where he's going. On this occasion, he did so and bumped the back of his head into a protruding corner with a thud. I picked him up and hugged him.
Through this, he didn't make a sound, which of course means he's just drawing in the necessary breath to scream bloody murder.
And he did.
He let out one shrill howl and then another. But, it was pretty clear that he was more upset than in pain. (Amazing how you can discern a difference in screams but, boy, they sure are different.) I lightly patted the point of impact on his head and patted his bottom, while reassuring him that he was going to be alright and he laid his head on my shoulder.
He must have understood me because he got quiet quickly. I gave the back of his head a couple of light kisses. And then he turned, pulled his head back, paused, and gave me a good look before giving me a light kiss. He then turned, put his head back on my shoulder and took a deep breath.
As a parent we project all kinds of meaning onto our kids' actions. It can be tough to tell what their actions mean sometimes. But this, it was clear to me, was my son saying "Thanks, Dad."
And with that, I was the one looking for the Kleenex.