What’s Privately Great

So I come home and Findlay is freshly bathed, hair combed down and to the side, and he’s doing his stiff-legged stagger about the house, grabbing everything within reach. Phones and remote controls need beware.
‘Hi, Dee-Da!’ The syllables are switched as Finn stretches open arms my way. I pick him up and he walks the length of my torso while reaching for the ceiling fan switches. This is his new game. It ends with him locking his knees while perched atop my shoulders, standing dangerously near the fan blades and tugging at pull-chains, laughing. I can see his molars.
Jenn leaves for gym-time, and Finn toddles about. His brother is playing hide-and-seek with the neighbor kids and the mini-van, apparently, is not off-limits because I hear the door constantly sliding open and shut. (Bad form–there’s no stealth in Cayde’s game). Cayde finds a good hiding spot eventually and his friends are almost desperate to find him. ‘Cayden? Cayden?!’
Finn bumps against the couch where I’m sitting, pecking at a keyboard, and he throws me a book. We read. He smiles. I expect: ‘Dee-da.’ Instead: ‘Hi, Thom. Hi thom hi thom hi thom.’ I am suddenly Homer Simpson and Finn is my Bart. I expect a ‘Bye Dee-da’ at bed-time at least–it’s the usual sweetness–but I am stubbornly and stoppedly ‘Thom’. ‘Bye Thom.’ (Blown kisses). Finn waves good-night, then inserts thumb into mouth. That’s when Cayde comes barreling in all boy-sweaty, having hid in the trunk of the car and having foiled his friends; having now the sudden and great need for a peanut-butter and mustard sandwich, knees dirty. Cayde reminds me that this is parenthood. Call me Dee-da, call me Thom. Cayde eats his sandwich and he’s really happy about mustard and pb being something privately great.

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