Saturday, August 11, 2012

Back together again

Psalm 63:2-5 (NIV)

I have seen you in the sanctuary
   and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
   my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
   and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
   with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
Jack and Max came home from How’s house today, and our family is complete once more. But in the spirit of honesty and full disclosure, it would have been OK with me if they stayed another day or so.

It’s not that I don’t love my boys — I absolutely do. But it was very relaxing to have just Charlie for a few days. Part of the reason we allowed ourselves to relax is because we know how much fun they were having with Kristie’s parents. How’s basement is pretty much their favorite place on Earth, but How and Pop went the extra mile over the 70 or so hours since we left them there Wednesday evening.

Beyond catering to their culinary wishes (which is fairly easy so long as you don’t get tired of making the same two or three meals time and again), they also took the boys on a big road trip to Chuck E. Cheese. Jack had only been once (before Max was born) and Max had no idea such a place existed, even though there’s one about 10 minutes from our house. Jack also came home with a new “Tom & Jerry” DVD and a Mario Wii game he’d just recently expressed an interest in owning. Pretty good haul for such a short stay.

The weather prevented a boat outing on the Mississippi, which is one of the reasons I would have been OK with them staying another day or two. But Jack gets to be in our town parade Sunday afternoon with his Scout den, and we have a combined birthday dinner at Pops & K’s Sunday evening, so it was time to get them back. Still, there’s so much to be said for this special summer time with grandparents, I feel bad we didn’t get to give them the week we planned.

Of course, I was selfishly enjoying the 2-1 parent-child advantage. When Charlie is home alone and asleep, the house is eerily quiet. He seems to eat at least a part of whatever we eat, so there’s no need to fret over meals. As an added bonus, since he’s so well behaved in public, we actually were able to get out to restaurants that, based on atmosphere, menu and time of day, we would never dream of bringing Jack and Max. I’m sure parents of one 18-month-old don’t consider it special to eat brunch one-handed while the child sits on dad’s lap nibbling away at an English muffin. But for me, it meant I could sit at a table with Kristie and just talk like adults — while the sun was up. Incredible!

Charlie doles out a high five to Pops Friday night.
Our Thursday night out was a treat from Pops & K, a bit of an unwinding from the happenings in Elizabeth. In times like this I like to consider Charlie a form of portable therapy. You can’t help but chuckle at his infectious laugh, and he’s starting to dole out high fives and hugs to more than just parents and brothers. Pops was along for our Friday dinner as well, and I’m not sure he’s had nearly as much time with a happy Charlie and no distractions from the older two. You really have to isolate the kids every so often to get an appreciation for them as individual personalities, and the last few days were the perfect opportunity with Charlie.

So as much as I love our family being together, I also see the benefits of a few days apart. Jack and Max got to fully enjoy their grandparents. Charlie got the rare chance to have the undivided attention of both parents. Kristie and I got to feel somewhat like a couple and not just the housekeeping/kitchen/chauffeur service. And at the end of it all we had a nice dinner with How and Pop at our house, making the family complete again. (And, in a stroke of good timing, tonight was our town’s fireworks display, which made bedtime a breeze.) Tomorrow will not be without its rough patches. I am singing in church and the parade lineup starts very near the end of our service, so the morning will be disjointed. Jack and Max will certainly get on one another’s nerves as the try to return to normal, and they’re going to hear no a lot more then they have the last few days. Charlie probably will have the easiest adjustment, but I’m sure he probably prefers the parental monopoly. Before we know it, Jack and Max will be in school again, our regular activities will be under way and we’ll fall back into normal family routines. But we have a few more days of summer, the energizing spirit of a few days of rest from the usual order of business and a renewed appreciation for how lucky we all are to have each other. I try not to ask for much in life, and that’s party because I’m so incredibly satisfied with simple pleasures like a few delicious meals and the loving embrace of my kids when they’re happy to see me. I’m pretty happy to see them, too. And I’m thrilled to hear how much they love spending special time being spoiled by their grandparents. I always loved it when I was the center of attention, and I’m glad to be able to see that tradition continue. A prayer for August 11:
Lord, my life is filled with blessings. I am thankful for my happy, healthy children, and for the grandparents who love them so. I am thankful for the chance to enjoy wonderful meals and pleasant company, I am thankful for my wife as my partner — in romance, in parenting, in mutual strength and support. You have given me not just these blessings, but also the opportunity to praise you for your goodness. Your love is better than life, Lord, and yet life, too, is a wonderful gift. Praise be to your wondrous name. Amen.

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