Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Dad in the Making

My son is on the floor, busy with an art project while Jevo and I sit on the couch, reading. It's Friday night, which for us is reserved as a time to unwind and relax. We usually order pizza, watch a bit of TV and overall keep it low-key.

The project Max is working on is a present for my dad for Father's Day. These projects of his are pretty much the same: he takes a large scrapbook page and writes a message on the blank side, then proceeds to cover it with stickers. He's found some stickers he didn't know he had and is pasting the hell out of my father's sheet. Soon enough, you can barely see the "I love you papi" he'd written on it. I tell him the piece looks complete, but he wants to continue creating. I suggest he think of someone else he wants to make something special for, and I see his eyes drift toward Jevo.

I go up to him and ask if he wants help finding more paper. As we rummage through the supplies, he whispers that he wants to make something for Jevo. I help him find the right sheet and as I do so, he whispers that he has some great superhero stickers that he wants to give him and will use those. "I'm going to give him all of them, mommy," he tells me.

He's stumped though, by what to write him. He whispers to me that Jevo is not his dad, so he can't write "Happy Father's Day." I nod, wondering how to address this, when he continues: "but if you marry him, he'll be my other dad." I acknowledge that he's right and he asks, "so when are you going to marry him?" This is heading somewhere pretty complicated for a relaxing Friday night, so I side-step the question and say, "You know, he helps take care of you. Remember how tomorrow it's just you guys in the morning? He'll play with you and be here with you and probably take you on an adventure."

He settles down to his work and calls me over once again. He knows what he wants to say but needs my help spelling it all out. I write what he whispers on a piece of scrap paper and leave him to it. During all this, Jevo is buried in his newspaper, and I have no clue if he's aware of what's going on.

He finishes and doesn't want to wait till Sunday to give it to him. He hurtles toward Jevo and shoves his project at him, kinda yelling at him to look look look. It's another sheet covered in stickers, this time the huge superhero ones he was so excited to find earlier. In-between the stickers he's written "thank you for taking care of me." He's proud of himself and Jevo, it seems, is moved.

Bedtime comes along, and a very tired Max becomes a total pain in the ass. He's whiny, stalling, uncooperative. Worse, I'm frustrated by this seemingly from nowhere change and have zero patience for it. He wants to fight and I just want him to get in bed. Jevo knows it's been a rough couple of days on that front, with Max challenging every. single. thing. I. say. This meltdown is about to implode with my very own meltdown, when Jevo calls him over. He takes Max onto his lap and very quietly speaks to him. I catch some of what he says, that it's bedtime, that he needs to listen to mommy, that tomorrow will be lots of fun but only if he gets to bed, that he's so excited about all the fun things they'll be doing together. Max promptly settles down and gets in bed without another peep or fuss.

The next morning, I'm off on a couple of appointments and errands and it's just the two of them for a while. This is about the third or fourth time that they have one-on-one time. Jevo takes Max skating around the block. They pay my parents a visit, and then head back home, where Max tries to weasel a sugary snack that Jevo pronounces a no-go: he can have fruit, but no sweets. I return home a couple of hours later to find them alive, in one piece and doing a-o.k.

Later on, at a friend's pool party, I notice a seamlessness to how they interact. They play, Jevo warns for safety's sake, Max listens, they play again. They're each hesitating less around the other.

Jevo is well aware of the challenges I face as Max's mom. He's seen this kid at his worst and he's seen my embarrassment, my sense of not knowing what the hell to do. He knows I get extra tense and anxious in public, that I get less and less patient and more and more irritated when Max has a spate of challenging days and it seems like it'll never end.

And the thing is, he is unfazed by it, all of it, it seems. He is patient where I am not, calming when both Max and I need it, fun and active when Max's energy exceeds my own. He has insight into my son and never fails to offer me a perspective I can't conjure up on my own. Above all, he is kind. He is always unfailingly kind to my son.

It's been a while now since I feel like we're on trial, like he's watching the train wreck and any minute now will make the call - yeah, these two are insane - and book it out of here. Somewhere along the way, he became a part of us. It all hit me this weekend because all of it was so... normal.

So it's true: he's not a dad. But little by little, in subtle, simple ways, he is becoming one. And he's a pretty darn excellent dad in the making.

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Posted by Tere @ 6/19/2011   | |

6 Comments

  • Anonymous JayFord Blog posted at 6/27/2011 8:40 PM  
    taking care of children is a difficult task.But you did it great. Keep it up.
  • Anonymous Anonymous posted at 6/28/2011 10:43 AM  
    Tere how many childrens are you having?
  • Blogger Tere posted at 6/29/2011 4:04 PM  
    I'm not currently having any. Just have one and have no idea what will happen next.
  • Blogger Agustin Bunuel posted at 7/04/2011 11:51 PM  
    Its sounds like things are going great. Funny how life takes care of itself while we are trying to figure it out. You ARE fabulous.

    Anybody ever tell you that you look like Sally Fields?
  • Blogger Tere posted at 7/06/2011 10:20 PM  
    Sally Fields?? Um, no. Angelina Jolie and Mila Kunis are the ones I get the most, though I don't see a resemblance to either.

    ;-)
  • Blogger Caterina posted at 9/28/2011 11:19 PM  
    Oh dear lord....I haven't been on here in a long time, and I read this and start crying! Flawless, raw, real and amazing writing. Thanks.
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