I am a security blanket.
I don’t say that with any animosity or contempt, I’ve just come to the conclusion.
I try to start my morning by doing a run – and by that I mean it’s not marathon-man, it’s a brief bit of exercise – and then get breakfast going. Usually it’s only my sons that need the breakfast food. My daughter, the middle child, is usually last to come down and refuses to do more than have a couple pieces of toast on her way out the door. I’ve tried for more but . . . I get it.
But my morning is usually taking either waffles I’ve made over the weekend and heating them up for them or cereal or what have you and announcing, soundly: “boys . . . here you go.” It’s banal, but they never ask what I’m talking about. They know. I usually have my coffee, read the headlines of the day and eat my own toast in the morning. I’ve noticed that the boys sit, right there, at the table, with me. They don’t get up and watch morning cartoons until I’ve finished and announce I’m going up to shower and remove the sweat and toil from my morning’s exercise.
That’s my first indication. The second comes every day when I come home.
Many evenings the door opens as I approach it. Others, it’s a trundling down the stairs meeting me as I hang up my coat. The door-meeting is usually followed by a chorus of children expounding the events of their day. In full. Sometimes in the explicit detail that makes me think I’ll have re-lived the day in real time.
Most of the time the stories take on a tone of all the bad that has happened. The world has turned on its head; the kid next to me is mean; I had to actually run a whole mile today!; My legs hurt; I hate math!
Others it’s telling me good news, like today when my son informed me that he did not get a detention. The teacher listened to his logic and reasoning, looked at evidence of the so-called violation that many kids had perpetrated . . . and realized that my son was not one of the perpetrators. This put him in a good mood.
The bigger indicator, though, comes with the routine out-of-whack. When I had elections I knew I was going to be late. It wasn’t just late, it was past-midnight, into the morning late. The rare occasions where I’ve gone out after work for a drink throws them off, too. My daughter likes to make it sound like she isn’t absorbing security from the Dad-blanket . . . but when I got home one night at 11:30 she was up and waiting for me. She just wanted to see me walk in the door. On those nights, asleep or not, I tuck the boys in anyway and tell them good night. It’s just a comfort and somewhere in those little noggins they know.
The last, biggest indicator – nightmares. When the kids wake up at 3:30am (like last night) they are tapping me on the shoulder and saying how scared they are. There’s no major resource here, no hugs, no dissertation of the dream. I pat the pillow on the other side of the bed and they crawl in, putting their bodies under the covers. I know it’s the security of being near dad for two reasons. First, that same-said, earlier referenced election night, my son had horrible nightmares. He came down the stairs, tried to gain comfort from his sister, and had two more recurring nightmares that night. It’s not that she’s bad at being empathetic, not at all. It’s the simple fact that she’s just . . . not Dad.
I looked over at my son last night, and as soon as his head hit the pillow his body relaxed. In minutes . . . he was asleep. I rubbed his head and I heard a mumbled: “love you Dad.”
His eyelids fluttered…and he began to snore.
Security blanket indeed.