Kelly went out to dinner with friends last night and I was home with the kids. Usually, this involves a lot of effort on my part (a lot more than Kelly would spend–she is much more efficient with the kids than I am), but last night turned out to be unusual because it was very easy.
The kids played, watched Disney, ate some treats and were well-behaved. When it was time to go upstairs to get ready for bed, they both cooperated. They watched their cartoons and allowed me to get some writing in. When I put the Little Man to bed, the Little Miss was a model of cooperation and helpfulness. Afterward, she fell asleep in the crook of my arm, and by the time Kelly got home, she was out cold.
In fact, the only thing I didn’t manage to do–for sheer lack of time–was take the trash out; something that could easily be done in the morning.
Kelly got home and I was so proud of the fact that both kids were in bed and the Little Miss was sleeping. I think even Kelly was surprised. She asked if both kids were asleep, and I told her the Little Man might still be awake, waiting to kiss her goodnight, so she went into check on him. The conversation went something like this:
Kelly: Hey, buddy, did you have fun?”
Little Man: Uh-huh.
Kelly: You get a good night’s sleep.
Little Man: I’m hungry. Daddy didn’t give us dinner.
Of course, he was right. I did not give them dinner because I’d somehow gotten it into my head that they’d eaten before Kelly left. The Little Man never said anything to me about being hungry.
And, of course, what seemed to be a perfect, well-managed evening, was now mush.
We gave the Little Man a snack, which made him happy, and I apologized to him. While he was eating, I said, “I’m really sorry, buddy. I didn’t realize you hadn’t had dinner and I didn’t know. I’m really, really sorry.”
The Little Man said, “It’s okay, Daddy, it happens to everyone.” I found this statement, spoken with such cheerfulness, both amazing and touching in a four-year old.
I tried to make a joke. I said, “Well, I guess tonight I was a bad daddy.”
“Nah,” the Little Man said, “I think you are ‘still-good-daddy.'”
After his snack the Little Man fell asleep, happy, and I tossed and turned for a while, still uncertain of how I could have missed that they hadn’t had dinner. But I didn’t feel too bad. After all, as the Little Man said, I was “still-good daddy” in his eyes. Making him the Not-So-Little Man of the evening.