17 July 2012

Jack's Favorite

A boy, his balloons, and his father
My son's hero is his father. Maybe this is the case for most little boys in the world who have a father in the picture. While I'd like to try not to create a self fulfilling prophecy here (and maybe it's too early to tell anyway) I'm going to hazard a guess that Jack's father will always be his favorite. (Parents can't pick favorites, but kids can? Gulp. Is this a reasonable enough motivation for me to agree to having a second child…on the off chance I get to be the favorite? Please discuss.)
So yeah, anyway…my son clearly loves his Papa. The affection between them is astounding. The way Jack firmly seeks out his father's love and affection is beautiful. And honestly it makes me feel everything is right with the world because I can see that Jack clearly has the capability to love and express love, which is a great relief considering that not so long ago there was a bevy of "experts" around Jack all suspicious of but not saying the "A" word. Which of course went over swimmingly with me, causing me to freak out until one of them finally did me the courtesy of saying out loud, albeit quietly, something she wasn't supposed to: "I don't think your son has Autism." (In case you don't have the back story, my kid was speech delayed. These days we can't get him to shut up.)


Chris Cornell has a great line in one of his songs, "I only love you when I'm down". This pretty much sums up Jack's relationship with me most of the time. And I would even further amend that line to read "I only love you when I'm down, and Papa's not around", because if Jack skins his knee and Jason is anywhere in the vicinity (even if he has to limp for a mile to find him, bloody and suffering from heat exhaustion and dehydration), I am definitely chopped liver. And worse. I become the cause of the skinned knee. I become the cause of skinned knees everywhere. I am singlehandedly responsible for skinned knees, spilled cheerios, legos that don't stack properly and other similar catastrophic events throughout the world.

Except when he really needs me most. Like this morning, being dropped off at school. For some strange highly coded and complex reason Jack is in a "I can't handle the drop-off" phase. Actually no, the reasoning is probably not complicated at all…regressing with a little separation anxiety because Papa was gone on a business trip for 5 days last week. I get it. I really do get the toddler psychology behind this one. As the primary caregiver I am the rock. I am the one who is consistent and unwavering. I am the one who is almost always NOT going on business trips. And so I am the one with whom he is going to constantly test that boundary…just to make sure that anything he does, anything that happens, I am still going to be around.

It's really hard to leave your kid at school after you've pried him from your legs and he's screaming and crying. It really just fucking sucks. Even though you're doing the right thing.

Since Jason got home from his trip 2 days ago it's been love fest city for Papa and I have been re-relegated to the position of Villain and Causer of Bad Things That Happen and Witch Who Insists on One Vegetable (POISON) Bite at Dinner. And this morning after Jack displayed such difficulty letting me go I admit freely to you now that my first feelings about this situation were not the adult feelings. ("Oh sure, NOW you like me and find me valuable".) But man do I love my kid and it is these moments that he provides me with that make me humble, where I slip past resentment and into unconditional love to discover what's really important. I know my kid loves me, I do. And I know he loves and needs needs needs his Papa. I'm almost 40 and I'm STILL struggling with how to express myself, how to express my love. My best friend reminded me the other day that she's pretty sure she witnessed me throwing a tantrum quite recently. So I guess you never really stop working it out. OY. Whatever you need kid. Whatever you need.

"Oh no not the vegetables!"

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