Parenting is truly a mixed bag of adventures. You never know when your routine will turn into a parenting adventure. Sometimes your children will turn perfectly normal things like cooking dinner or shoveling snow into unique experiences. Sometimes you are awakened at 4:30 to put Superman into his costume.
The lights were on. I was just coming out of slumber because of the change in lighting when the situation explained itself. “Mommy. Help E eenman suit.” Loosely translated from Eli speak that means “Mommy, I woke up an indeterminate amount of time ago and instead of coming into your room immediately I took this opportunity to explore the closet and found my older brother’s Ironman costume from Halloween. This experience has completely awakened me and I require your assistance to don this costume.”
I looked over and saw Eli holding Charlie’s Superman costume from a year ago. “That’s not Ironman buddy, that’s Superman,” I said. In my groggy state I guess I thought a clearer identification of the super hero costume would result in an apology and a return to his bed. No such luck.
“Mommy, help E soopmin suit.” The translation above is accurate enough for our purposes.
“Elijah,” I said trying to sound dad-like. “Please turn off the lights. It is still night-time.”
“OK,” he said sweetly. He turned off the lights. “Go sleep daddy,” he said dismissively. “Mommy,” he whispered. “Help E soopmin . . .”
“Come here Eli,” Margey said. She stopped sobbing and moved into action. She dressed him in the suit and handed him the contingency bottle she keeps on her bedside table. Not that bottle. That one is on my nightstand. This contingency bottle contained milk. Eli contentedly settled next to me while mommy went to the bathroom. I groped for my phone and realized that I forgot to plug it in. It was in my pants pocket.
Margey got into bed as I got out and picked up my pants. Yes, they were next to the bed on the floor. That is because I get out of bed into the same spot I got in and it is easy to find my pants with my eyes closed. Don’t judge. I stood and retrieved my phone.
“Mommy!” Eli sounded alarmed. “What happen to window?”
I looked at the window next to my side and back at Eli. I was between them. Really? I understand that visual perspective is a funny thing. We all saw the traffic safety film in driver’s ed where they demonstrate that a pencil held in front of one’s face can hide a motorcyclist at 200 feet. Apparently, given the angles and distance from our bed to the wall, my ass causes an eclipse-like effect that blocks all evidence of the window.
“Elijah,” I used his full name. “I did not block the entire window.”
“Yes did,” he nodded. “Window go bye-bye.”
I got back in bed. “There it is!” he exclaimed. “Hi window!” Very funny. Elijah and I have basically the same physique: pot belly, bow legs and bubble butt. At 2-and-one-half the physique is cute. At 49 it causes window eclipses. I got in and Eli drank his milk. He seemed to settle down.
I smiled despite the hour and my general grouchy mood. “Yes buddy, Daddy is happy.” Across the bed, my wife made that noise that moms make when a child does something adorable.
“Good,” Eli said. “E sing song.”
Eli broke into his cover of the toddler classic “Mommy Daddy”. It has been covered countless times since the original was released by the duo “Cain and Abel” on their album “We Didn’t Bite the Apple” on the Serpent Records label. Parker and Charlie each covered this song back in the day. I just don’t remember it being quite so loud or quite so 4:30 am.
He finished the song and seemed to settle in.
I was just dozing off and starting to dream about a large drooling owl wearing footy pajamas.
I looked up at Eli. He was grinning. “Daddy owl say WHOOOOO!”
“I know buddy.” I decided to try some Dad maneuvering. “But owl doesn’t say that right now.”
“No say WHOOOOO?”
He took the bait. “Not right now, because he is asleep.” I closed the trap. “Can you go to sleep?”
“Yes.” He laid down. So far so good.
There were a few moments of silence and I started to relax. Eli squirmed a little and yawned. He got close to me and rubbed my arm. He sang a quieter and sweeter version of “Mommy Daddy”. I was very relaxed when he spoke.
“Daddy?” He sounded sleepy and his face was close to mine.
“Yes, buddy?” Eli breathed deeply next to my ear.
“SURPRISE!!” The shout was directly in my ear and came out as “PRIZE!!” I sat up and said a swear. Elijah giggled. “E say Daddy PRIZE!” He was very proud of himself.
My wife pulled Eli close to her protectively. “We shouldn’t yell sweetheart,” she said to both of us at the same time. “Come on baby,” she said softly to Eli. “Lets go to sleep.” Eli smiled at me from the protection of his mother’s arms. They snuggled down on her side of the bed.
I rolled over and was facing Eli and his mom. I could see that his hands were raised and he was doing something with his fingers.
“Pinchy, pinchy,” Eli said. “Pinchy crab.”
“What are you doing Eli?” she asked.
“E sing crab song.”
“Pinchy, pinchy crab,” Eli sang. “Pinchy, pinchy crab.”
My wife joined him in the pinchy crab hand movements. He gently pinchy crabbed her arm and hand as he sang. I should have warned her but it was beautiful even at almost 5 in the morning. Then my wife screamed.
“Eli! No!” Apparently Pinchy Crab had gotten a little into somebody’s personal space. That happens with pinchy crab sometimes. A general reminder of good touch, bad touch followed.
Eli listened then pretended to take a bite out of mommy. All my kids have done the “eat you up” thing. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a bit creepy. He made an exaggerated biting motion followed by exaggerated chewing and yummy noises.
“E cook mommy hand,” Eli announced. We went from eclipses to pinchy crab to Donner Pass in just a few minutes.
“Are you listening to this?” she asked me.
“Eli,” I said as sincerely as I could. “We don’t cook mommy.” I mentally added that to the list of phrases I never thought I would utter.
“OK,” he said. He stopped the cooking and continued sashimi style with pretend bites of mommy. He crawled over to me. He took a big pretend bite. He crinkled up his face and started spitting.
“Ewwww,” he said. “Daddy yucky.” Everyone is a critic.
We settled down a little. Eli sang and played quietly. He looked around a bit then asked his mom. “Mommy, crowd come get E?”
She looked over at me. I shrugged. “What crowd, honey?”
“Crowd under bed, get E.”
“Crowd under bed. Tree outside eat.”
Crap. Seriously? “Clown,” I told her. “Not crowd, clown. He wants to know if the clown will come get him and if the tree outside the window will get him.” My wife moaned.
Fine. “Poltergeist” was a mistake. We all make mistakes and”Poltergeist,” was one of ours. Lets all do the “Glass House” thing. We decided to watch it one afternoon around Halloween. We figured the TV version of the classic movie would be watered down enough that even if Eli paid attention, it wouldn’t affect him.
The boys decided to stop playing cars and trucks about the time the clown grabbed the little boy and then the tree reached through the window and tried to swallow him. “What happened to him?” Charlie asked wide-eyed. The mistake was made and the damage was done. I figure we should have a learning moment.
“See that little boy,” I asked Charlie. He nodded.
“He didn’t listen to his Mommy and Daddy,” I said sadly. “He didn’t make his bed and he back-talked so the tree got him.” I shook my head. Charlie gaped.
“No way,” said.
I shrugged and continued to shake my head.
“That is so cool!” he smiled. Charlie loved the movie. I didn’t think Eli noticed. At almost 6 am my wife soothed Eli, explaining how movies aren’t real.
It was apparent that we weren’t going to sleep. My wife got up and showered, I went downstairs for coffee and our morning started. It was actually a pretty good morning. Mommy left for work and the boys and I cleaned up. Soon we left to take Charlie to school. We dropped him off and then stopped to get some bagels. I could see that he was getting tired.
We left the bagel shop and headed home. In the rear-view mirror I could see him nodding off. So cute. He looked angelic as he slipped off to sleep.
“Eli,” I said softly. “Eli.”
He opened his eyes a little.
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