The dink had his first big trip away from us--an entire week spent at Nana and Pop's house three hours away. It wasn't something I was particularly excited about--actually, the impending week caused me more stress than I'd like to admit throughout the entire month of May--but I packed him up with his loveys and little blue pillow and his swim diapers and Go Dog Go! and sent him on his way for seven long days and nights (long for me, that is--the dink still can't tell time).
One of the dink's best qualities is his enthusiasm. He's by far the most enthusiastic person I've ever met in my entire life, rivaled only by one of my best friends, Colleen. (And though Colleen's enthusiasm has remained remarkable into adulthood, knowing her as a teen allowed me to understand that sometimes maintaining that level of hype takes work. But for the dink, at 2.5 years old...it's still effortless.) He gets excited about his cheerios in the morning, or seeing Mickey Mouse on tv. He's thrilled about eating cheese and crackers or getting a cup of juice, or playing Playdoh, or going to the grocery store with Mommy (super excited on that one), or even just putting on his clothes sometimes ("Mommy, I get dressed!!"). I wish I could understand where that motivation comes from at such a young age, to keep a happy face in midst of mundanity, or even fear, or while learning to share me so sweetly with his baby brother. When he was a baby, people used to comment on what a happy little guy he was as if it was something remarkable, and I would think, he's a baby, what does he have to be sad about? But as he gets older, the more remarkable it really does seem. Don't all parents think some quality about their child is noteworthy? I think this is the dink's best feature. I try not to bore people with the "listen to how smart my child is" stories, or suppose that he will one day play professional sports every time he dribbles a soccer ball across the yard, or hurls some other object over the backyard fence...but now when someone comments on what a happy boy I have, I do indulge in a quiet smile to myself, envision a high-five to J, and take a little credit for that...even though I truly don't understand how he does it.
When the dink returned from Nana and Pop's after his long séjour, he carried an armful of lovies and stuffed snakes and his little blue pillow to his room to put back in his bed. I turned on the light, and the rejoicing commenced. "Mommy, my room! My trucks, mommy! My clothes! My little car! My booookkksss!!!" And I just stood there, grinning, silently rejoicing with him. My child! My child! My child!!!
Though D was nothing less than ecstatic about getting to see his "friends" again at daycare that first week after coming back, he couldn't quite yell "bye!" with his usual gusto when I left for work one morning. He followed me to the door to watch me get in the car, and I tried to make him laugh by telling him "Bye, sugar. Bye, honey." which is part of a game we usually play in the car. And he just stood there looking through the screen door at me, trying so hard to smile at me, but the little corners of his mouth kept turning down, and his eyes were all sadness. But even as his tears were forming, he was still trying to make himself smile. Oh, dink. Now witnessing that sweet effort can definitely make you late for work. But it only took a few hugs and kisses and a brief pep talk to get him back on his feet. And though I felt like a jerk all morning long for being a working mom at all, I was still glad to know that I was missed. I imagine that one benefit to having a clingy child would be knowing that child always needs you. And the downside of having a confident, independent child is wondering if he even needs you at all. I think with the dink, we got the best of both worlds.