Last week I was on child duty as Michelle went out. Celia was watching a movie, and I sat next to Joshua as he rolled around on the carpet gurgling with a smile and reaching out for random toys.
My mind was wandering, and my smart phone gave a beep that a new email had come in. I reached into my pocket and began reading the message.
And then it hit me.
I wasn’t being present to my kids.
I began to think back – how long had I been doing that? I couldn’t say. All at once I had this daydream flash – in no time at all the kids will be off at school, and then they’ll be busy, busy, busy and it’ll be more and more difficult to spend quality time with them. How precious these early days are, when I have full access to both of my kids.
I suppose it’s the familiarity of life that takes over. When the kids become more manageable, there’s less and less need to be fully present to them, and so we allow ourselves to disengage mentally.
I put my phone back in my pocket and played with my son.
A few days later I found myself in a similar situation. Celia was napping, and I had a couple of hours alone with Joshua. He lay on the carpet gurgling happily to himself.
At first, I was daydreaming to myself, then I snapped out of it and leaned over to look at him. His gorgeous blue eyes twinkled as he looked at me.
“You’re so adorable,” I lilted to him.
He chirped happily.
“My Little Boy Blue.”
Joshua grinned at me and reached out, grabbing my nose.
All at once I felt a tremendous surge of love come over me. My eyes moistened as I watched him experiment with making noise with his tongue out. I pulled out a shaker and dangled it in front of him. He grasped at it eagerly until he finally pulled it down into his mouth.
Then, I shook it, making noise, and his eyes lit up. He seems to love anything musical or percussive, far more than any other baby I’ve come across so far. He took the shaker out of my hand and started shaking it the same way I did.
I shook my head in amazement. He’s only seven months! Will he be a musician?
Inspired, I pulled down my twelve-string guitar from where it was hanging on the wall and began tuning it. Every time I hit a string, Joshua chimed an echo back, “Aaaah!”
He was always in the key of C.
At least, that’s what my tuner told me.
And then, I started singing. We sang the blues. We sang rock. We sang some soul. And Joshua gurgled along with wide eyes. “Aaaaaah!”
I could see he wanted to get closer, so I scooched over to him. He instantly reached out, putting his hands on the strings with me.
We played together with the guitar until he got tired, at which point I put him on my back for a nap while I practiced bass guitar to some funk songs in the kitchen. And that’s where Michelle found us when she came home.
I smiled at her. Not only had I been fully present to my son, I’d had a great time.
What a perfect afternoon.