So, Is This Four?

Well, dear readers, these last few weeks have been eventful and then some here in Dadville. As previously reported, my son turned four, and soon after we celebrated both this event and his sister’s second birthday (still forthcoming at the time of writing) with a gathering of the family. And the boy finally got the Paw Patrol toys he so badly wanted, far outshining Ol’ Dad’s paltry gift of a freaking drum set.

This gathering was on Saturday, and my parents, who go by the perfectly adorable monikers of Poppa Joe and Grandma Maggy, arrived that afternoon and stayed with us until Wednesday morning. Wednesday evening, a funny thing happened.

It was bedtime. Li’l Boo was already abed, and V-Rex had just finished his milk and crackers. Although both kids had displayed symptoms of grandparent withdrawal throughout the day, V-Rex hopped cheerily off the couch and ran to give Momma a hug. That’s when it happened:

“I love you, Mommy!”

She looked at him with some suspicion. “That’s the second time you’ve told me you love me today.” Then, turning to me, “Did you say something to him?”

No, I did not. Several days before I had asked him why he never says good night to me (“Because I don’t like you. You’re yucky, and you stink!”), but I hadn’t said anything about telling Momma he loves her.

But it gets better–as I made my way out of his room after “tucking him in” (read: placing him in his bed with his new Paw Patrol toys to play himself to sleep), I offered my usual, “Goodnight, buddy. I love you.”

“I love you, Daddy… Goodnight.”

Listen, y’all. I have been putting this kid to bed every night for four years. When he was an infant and we had him in a bassinet next to the bed, it was on my side of the bed. The first two weeks he was home from the hospital I slept with my hand on his belly. Until only a few weeks ago, I ended every day cuddling up to him and singing a song. He has never–NEVER–told me goodnight or I love you at bedtime. Most nights he either acts like I’m not even there and just plays with whatever toys he’s brought to bed or ignores anything I’m saying to ask me a thousand and one questions about stars, planets, bugs, dinosaurs, Paw Patrol, where we live, how we get to Poppa Joe and Grandma Maggy’s house, the square of the hypotenuse, the origin of the species, you name it. Until last night.

What the hell happened? When he should have been bratting out and casting us his parents aside–because how could we ever hope to match the attentions and affections of grandparents?–here was our boy being sweet, cooperative, and expressing love. I mean, he didn’t even cry about having to brush his teeth.

Is this four? Is that what happened? Are we out of the weeds of the toddler tantrum-filled year of three?

If it’s not, please don’t tell me. But it’s about time for me to get this dude into bed, so I guess I’ll find out soon enough if this was a fluke or the beginning of a wonderful new stage of parenting.

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