This past week, I’ve been blessed with a few golden parenting moments – you know, those times when you’re flooded with love for your children, a feeling that all is right the world, and a desire to figure out how to bottle the moment — and then to patent that ability to finance college for your children and a dozen of their closest friends. The moments were even more welcome because they came in a week in which I’ve been clashing with both boys, and as soon as I figure out how to handle one kid’s outburst, the other one comes up with a new, devious way to outsmart me.
First, we had unprompted displays of manners – and not just the regular (and very sweet) chirps of “Bless you, bless you, bless you,” from Jonas, either post-sneeze or just shouted out as a random benediction for all those who are in the grocery store along with us.
“Thank you for this delicious dinner, Daddy!” said Axel, one evening. Yes, his mouth was crammed full of salmon when he said it and, no, I did not mention any guidelines about talking with your mouth full. Those mushy pink bits made it all the better. It gave me hope that, after the hundreds of repetitions, something’s stuck and, when the time comes for them to eat dinner at friends’ houses, they will not be accused of being raised by wild boars, even though they might make mashed potato sculptures after thanking their hosts.
Then, the boys played together quietly for extended periods of time, long enough that I got to finish up the dishes and type an entire email in one sitting. Playing, without screaming, “Aggrrggh that’s my my my my my!” Without hitting, or throwing sand in someone’s eyes, or wrestling, or trying to take the cat’s temperature. From the kitchen, I listened to the streaming narrative:
“A rescue helicopter coming in for a landing! To the landing pad!”
“Hewicopter!” said Jonas.
“It’s coming in for a landing, here it comes, about to rescue everybody who needs rescuing. Here come the guys jumping out. Get the train ready,” directed Axel.
“Train coming! Here go Axel.”
“Thanks. The rescue helicopter has guns, and it’s going to shoot a lot all over.”
And right then, the adorable moment began to fade, and, a few minutes later, the usual hair pulling and toy tug-of-war returned. But it was fabulous while it lasted.
Finally, there were naps, with both children napping. At the same time. For a few hours in a row. In our house, this is akin to the dog changing diapers and then putting together a bacon-wrapped pork loin for dinner without eating any of the meat. And not just once – they napped at the same time three times over the last few weeks!
I’ve discovered a magical nap formula: several hours of running around outside (either hiking or at the pool), followed by a cheese-filled lunch and, the most crucial ingredient, a long car ride. Then, both kids will drift off, and I get to carry them upstairs, draped over my shoulders, heavy with sleep, and giving off that sweet mix of sunscreen and playing outdoors in the sunshine sweat. Even more shockingly, they now stay asleep after I slide them into their beds. I’d have a party to celebrate, if I weren’t worried that the party horns would wake them up.
I can tell – this summer is going to be a good one.