The other day I rushed home from work after an important morning meeting. Little was feeling sick and I hated to be away. I arrived home to find him sound asleep, not missing me a bit. Big and our sitter were playing a nice, quiet game of Chutes and Ladders in our playroom (aka garage) before lunch.
As I walked in to join them, I saw laundry on the washer that needed to be done, I had work concerns racing through my head and I knew it was time to get Big (and me) fed.
But first we had to wrap up the game. I took over what ended up being the losing piece of Chutes and Ladders (really, I’m far too competitive to let anybody—even a 4-year old—win). As we played, I was amazed by how wrapped up in the moment Big was. He looked at every picture on the board and wanted to talk about it. He methodically counted each square and was genuinely thrilled or disappointed by where he landed.
I made a promise to myself to let the other things go and just be right there with him—in the moment.
After the game I told him it was lunchtime. He asked if we could build a fort and eat lunch inside. Though my grumbling stomach said no, my commitment to being in the moment found me saying yes.
Quickly our fort evolved into a café. Our easel became the chalkboard menu. The Swiffer became the poll through our kiddie table, holding up the perfect umbrella—a fitted sheet wrapped snuggly around some folding chairs. We named our café and made a sign for each entrance. After the streamers were hung for decoration, it was time to place our orders.
The chef worked her magic on some scrambled eggs, Italian soup, pear slices and fresh tomatoes from Uncle B’s garden, and we sat down to enjoy our meal. While the food was surprisingly delightful (and certainly a step above the usual turkey and fruit slices thrown on a plastic plate), the company was better than ever. When did my little boy become someone who would sit and enjoy a leisurely, mature meal with me?
I was so enjoying my alone time with Big—something that’s become far too rare since Little came along—when we heard that scratchy voice calling us. Big looked excitedly at me and said Little needed to come order his lunch and join us.
We continued our plus-one lunch, but it wasn’t quite the same. Little was dancing and singing (even sick the kid’s a ham…which also happens to be what he ordered). He ran out of the café and before we knew it he had taken a plastic baseball bat to one of our signs. Big laughed hysterically, shouting, “Oh Destructo-baby!”
Sure, the moment was no longer one of clouds parting and angels singing, but the hearty laughter was just as sweet. And I was so glad to be right there—in that very moment.