It’s been a long few months. That may be the one constant in this entire COVID-19 situation, whether you are staying at home, or working more than ever, or something in between, it’s been a long few months. I am finally at home more, though that is not always all that it is cracked up to be. A few days ago, Franklin looked up at me and said, “Papa, you have two chins!” I gave him a look and he corrected himself, “No, three!”
I guess it’s not just my belt that has noticed my COVID-10. It wouldn’t have been so bad, but an hour or so later I got an alert on my phone telling me I was at the front door. Our doorbell is usually fairly accurate at recognizing faces so I opened the app to find out who looked so much like me. I was discouraged to discover a toad by the front door. It was bound to happen eventually, but at 39, I am finally starting to really feel my middle-aged self. I think that feeling has more to do with the kids’ ages than mine.
Franklin has taken up behaviors that I remember doing myself as a child. A few week ago, I went up to yell at him for having his light on when he should have been in bed asleep, I opened the door to find him asleep. I didn’t think too much of it, turned off his light, and returned downstairs. Then a few nights ago, I heard his door crack open and could hear his fan briefly before the door softly shut. I swiftly and silently ascended the stairs full of righteous fatherly indignation, threw the door open dramatically, and found Franklin in bed, eyes closed, pretending to be asleep. Confused at first it hit me; fool me once….
I admired him though, we pulled that stunt frequently as children and I don’t recall it working once. Typically during late night roughhousing the inevitable home furnishing would be broken and someone would whisper-shout, “Quick! Act like you’re asleep!” It may have been our lack of subtlety. A child in bed pretending to be asleep has a little more plausibility than four boys in a living room, chests still rising steeply from whatever activity caused the lamp to break. I was proud of him.
At 19 months Vera is almost the same age Franklin was when we moved into our current house which means six and half years completely disappeared somewhere. Her personality is growing faster than she is, and last week’s brief family vacation demonstrated that fact as well as my slow creep into middle age.
This was our first trip with children fighting the backseat. Nothing ages you quite as fast as telling kids in the backseat of a minivan to keep their hands to themselves. Or in our case feet. Vera takes great joy in tormenting anyone, but especially Franklin when he is buckled in beside her. Periodically as we drove down to the beach you’d hear, “Ouch! Vera stop!” from the backseat followed by Vera giggling. When I looked back to see what she could possibly be doing I saw her stick her foot out of her carseat and use her toes to pinch Franklin’s arm. As usual, she thought she was hilarious.
While it was just a long weekend trip to the beach, it is one that I know I’ll always look back on fondly. From eating fried chicken behind a gas station because all the restaurants were still closed to watching waves from Mobile Bay crash on the road as we were leaving. Mostly though, I’ll remember the times when it all came together and we were just a little family at the beach and I was the dad.