The Toboggan Ride Up (40)

Nothing brings me down these days. NO-THING. You choose happiness, and eventually you earn it. The great coincidence is that this is the year I turn forty, when greeting cards suggest everything to come is a toboggan ride over the hill and down. I refuse–have refused–to believe that, and now I have happiness. It’s clutched in my hand like a talisman, something near-physical. Nothing brings me down. NO-THING.
I get home just after eight, and the kids are in bed, just not sleeping. This is apparent as I put both my bag and keys down on the counter.
“Daddy!” I hear from behind the kids’ closed bedroom-door. And Jenn is tired–exhausted–so I excuse her to have a minute of silence while I check on the boys.
Cayde greets me first with a gigantic hug before I can make it into the room.
“Daddy! I love you!”
And Finn is the pajama clad-caboose, who follows up with a hug of his own.
“Dahddy-I lvs.” I give Finn a big kiss. He hasn’t figured it out–the whole kiss thing. His is open mouthed at best, and he just makes a smack sound to make his point without actually *kissing* anybody.
Know what? I was made for this. I was made to love these kids. And my wife, too, our kisses more lingering the longer we know each other.
I playfully shove the kids back into their bedroom.
“Ok, Ok. Jeezus, guys. I just got home.”
Also: “You guys need to be in bed.”
And the kids fall into place, meaning they’re sharing the bottom bunk again, tumbling into bedsheets.
“Daddy–come snuggle with us,” Cayden says.
(I’m ‘Daddy’, again, because the hour is late, but recently we’ve been calling each other Professor Plum (me) and Mr. Green (him); I else call him ‘kid’ or ‘hey, jerk’, both appropriate).
“You know I stink, right?” I raise an eyebrow at Cayde, because I’m wearing my work clothes, and I’m not only stained in guano, but I have an effluvium of fish and B-vitamins and matty-icky chick down perfuming my sweatshirt. It’s a source of pride. I fucking love my job. I stink, I fucking love my job. These are inseparable things.
“It’s ok, Daddy. I guess you can still snuggle.”
And I crawl into bed with them, Finn to my immediate right, Cayde on the other side.
Finn is wired, makes all sorts of faces at me, and babbles his Finn-speak. For a few minute, Cayde and I play a game: ‘Translate what Finn is saying.’
“I think he’s saying: Cayden, shut up.”
“I think he’s saying: Baby, what’s up.”
“No–he’s definitely telling you to shut up. It’s bed time. And I need to take a bath.”
I am stinky–Jenn, meanwhie, has learned what all the different penguin smells are:
1) Herring
2) Capelin
3) Silversides (for when I’m working with the puffins)
4) B-vitamins
5) Rookery (when working the nests)
6) Chick down
“This thought came up in my head, Daddy–I don’t know why.”
“What’s that, Dude.”
“I actually kinduv like the smell of your sweatshirt.”
“Well, that’s easy to explain, Kid. You like me, right?”
“Whatever, jerk. You like me, and although the sweatshirt REEKS, you know I like what I do, and when I come home I stink. But you associate that smell with me, what makes me happy. It then makes YOU happy, cuz you like me.”
“It’s all science,” I finish in my best Attenborough.
“Jerk,” I add.
I thought I made my point, thought it was ‘lights out’ but Cayde tucks into his pillow, then keeps talking.
“Wanna shut up already, dude? I had a long day.”
As response, Cayde flips Finn over to the side of the bunk, and cozies into my shoulder.
“This makes more sense,” Cayde says. And he points to me–stabbing me in the sternum. He then points to himself. Then Finn.
“Old. Younger. Youngest.”
Ya. I get ‘old’, not even ‘old-ER’. Thanks, Cayde. I don’t mind, though.
I’ve got my kids, I’ve got everything an old man could want. Bring it, 40.


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