By 5:00pm yesterday, neither of my kids had naps and both were grumpy/tired to the point of a rather embarrassing incident in the local toy store while shopping for a birthday gift. We'd spent a busy morning out in the world and probably pushed them too far with an afternoon at a robotics competition later. The birthday shopping was only because the party is today. It was a long day.
If you'd seen us in that awkward moment of demands for their own birthdays (July and October), we probably looked miserable. All four of us. You'd never know that this week was actually one of the best parenting stretches we've had.
I've said it before and I'll say it again...everybody makes a big deal out of newborns and how cute and awesome they are. The older they get, the more we complain as parents sometimes. But The Mama pointed out yesterday how it's so...weird...that we've reached the point of being proud of their independent actions rather than their simple existence.
Starting on about Thursday, we had a whole series of events and activities that combined together for me liking my kids now more than I probably ever have. My son was in a school play. In the role of Dr. Martin Luther King in a story about Rosa Parks. The kids had character cards around their necks and very limited dialogue as the teacher told most of the story about the bus boycott. It ended with the kids all marching around the room singing about peace and harmony. It was awesome.
Then later that evening, Mama was at her weekly knitting group so it was just me putting the kids to bed. We read the classic children's book Make Way For Ducklings and then climbed into bed for some snuggles like we normally do. But with my daughter still in the room, it ended with her pretending to be a mama duck and sitting her brother. Obviously, the egg. The two of them giggled uncontrollably in a way that reminded me of the way Windows 95 used to have kids laughing when you shut down. Hearing both of playing together, I couldn't even be mad that it was supposed to be bedtime quiet. The hilarious uproar went on and on in the most friendly way for siblings who usually fight like cats and dogs.
And yesterday morning it was my daughter's first dance class. Full on tights and pink ballet shoes and being measured for a costume. The teacher parades them around the room and gives them colored circles on the floor to hit as marks and the girls all scramble to keep their hands on their hips while pointing a foot. It's almost too cute to watch. At the end, when the parents come in to let them show off what they learned, they wave and smile and forget what to do because they're all busy looking for our approval. Every little girl down the line with a bright and cheerful smile on her face. Trying to stand still and pay attention their hardest.
My son went straight for the bleachers of our ice rink. A class of advanced students was on the ice to music doing twirls with their legs in the air. He went up next to the boards and said, "when I'm five I want to take both dance and ice skating lessons."
It was a great time to be a dad.
Followed by a screaming episode in the toy aisle. C'est la vie.