We did the usual boring stuff in the morning, which looked like us eating and cleaning and singing and playing music on couches as if they were pianos.
We washed a load or two of clothes, which means that I washed clothes and my son banged against the washing machine like you’d pump congas. His song usually ends when I close the folded door revealing the set of instruments. Of course, he does help by handing me a piece of clothes from the pile to dump in the soapy water. And he does the same when it’s time to fold—here’s a sock; here’s a shirt.
Bryce napped. Thankfully his naps have become the longest naps since he’s been here. He averages about 2 hours now. I’m still grateful and it’s been almost two weeks. The first week was a blur because each day felt like a mistake. We would come together, me and Dawn, or us with the grandmothers, and we would shrug our shoulders. We would secretly pray that these new sleeping stretches would persist and that we wouldn’t do anything to reverse the trend. There have been a few shorter naps, but those have been due to something we did and not by his preference.
I told Bryce what the day would look like after he woke up. He’s calling now after waking, not whining or crying. This is another positive step in the boy’s growth. I told him a while back. “You call me when you wake up. Don’t cry. Why are you crying? You can say ‘Daddy’ or ‘Mommy’ when you want us to come.” He’s obeying that particular expectation.
Errands. That was our Monday afternoon. I know, very exciting. I told that to Arwa Tuesday, at the office, when she asked if we took him out to get candy. I told her we have a routine on Mondays that isn’t kind to many exceptions. This Monday, I said, didn’t have candy-getting in the plan. Not exactly.
Instead of him dressing up like something or someone else, I put Bryce’s normal clothes on him Monday and when he got out of bed and ate, we left to take care of some business for his grandmother. He got to go into a bank and was greeted by a salt-n-pepper haired security guard. He stood in the line with minimal wandering. He greeted people and we, as usual, made new friends.
Incidentally, did you know that part of the reason God gives us children is to help us make friends, to help us meet people we’d never speak to? I’m convinced. Anyhow, after the quick meeting at the bank, we took what I’m sure to him felt like a road trip to Skokie where I put some over-sized comforters in the cleaners. He helped unload the car, carrying pillowcases. We met another gray-haired man of grandfatherly age who asked Bryce if I were keeping up with him. Bryce laughed and this encouraged the man. He played with Bryce in conversation the way an experienced grandfather would. I wondered how many children smiled and brightened when he said those types of things. We said a few goodbyes to him since we left at the same time.
It felt great to (again) see my kid interacting with someone he didn’t know and it going so well. I can’t take that for granted anymore, that people will engage him, that they’ll enjoy him, and that he’ll do the same. Those experiences seem to count for something. They seem to make this boy into a boy, to make him into a person who, hopefully, loves.
Bryce was in the seat again. This time the trip was shorter. We got over to my seminary’s library in Evanston, walked through the place. I spoke to a couple of my former students. Bryce waved and spoke to everybody else. We walked through the bookshelves; I stopped him from tapping on the keyboards. “Same rule applies,” I said.
We turned the huge dials which move the shelves in the stacks. Bryce thought this was wonderful even though his little hands couldn’t quite fit and even though I helped him turn them. It was a moment, like dozens of others, that I don’t ever want to forget—his tiny hand holding something, my bigger hand holding his, us doing something together.
After I checked out my book, we stepped to the car, going the long way so I could show Bryce where some of my professors worked and so he could catch a glimpse of a garden I pray in from time to time if I’m on campus. He didn’t seem interested. I spotted a rabbit and by the time Bryce looked it was gone. That, he was interested in.
We drove to Dawn’s job. It was, of course, on the way, and it would be a good end of the day. We walked in the building, ambled really, and Dawn lit up when he bent down and waved through the glass. He pulled the doorknob down but couldn’t push the heavy thing. He looked at me. Then he turned to wave at her. She was actively “Heying” to him and trying to leave her desk—which meant going around the back of the room—to come to us. She looked confused physically but she was enjoying him and waving to him and, at the same time, having to stop that in order to come to us.
I opened the door and by then they were embracing. All of my wife’s coworkers heard the Heying memo. People were coming from offices. One woman asked me what Arwa the next day would ask me: have you all been out getting candy today. I spotted a bowl of candy on Dawn’s desk. I told Bryce, who wasn’t listening, that that was all the candy he would get. He’s not into candy. He wasn’t interested. He kept hugging his mother.