Strange Looks

I picked Eli up from his daycare today. Daycare is totally the land of moms and minivans. Whenever I pick him up, I get stares that can be broken down into two categories: Don’t steal my child! and Why don’t you have a job? The former looks come from moms who subtly or not-so-subtly move their children behind them, lest I snatch them away and run, laughing maniacally. The latter looks are an admixture of pity and condescension, as if I am but two steps away from living on the street and feeding Eli the leftover bits of Sterno from a can I found in the trash.

It’s very possible that I’m reading far more into these looks than are meant. I’ll allow that this may be mirroring my own insecurities about mine and Eli’s role. Then another mom is careful to place herself between me and her sticky, drooling offspring and my doubts waft away.

It’s worth it to see the look on Eli’s face when I pick him up. “Daddy!” he called today, toddling towards me. “I play inna dirt!” Of course, he mentioned this after I picked him up.

He’s been all about me today. He and Misty stopped by work this morning to drop off some things I’d forgotten in my rush out the door. “Daddy!” he wailed as Misty whisked him away. According to her, he cried and cried because I didn’t come with him. At dinner tonight, I could barely talk over the shouts of “Daddy? Daddy daddy daddy! DADDY! DAAAADY!” When he injured his finger tonight — something he does three or four times a day — only I could kiss away the hurt.

At every stage of his growth I have thought, this is it. This is the most fun he can ever be. He could stop right here, frozen in amber, never to change again, and I would be happy. But this time I mean it. He’s more vocal than before, better able to wield the tool of language. He’s cute and loving and everything I do is funny. Some day this will come to an end, and he won’t be more fun than ever before. I doubt I’ll realize that we’ve passed that point until we are long past it, with only my memories of him patting my shoulder left.

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