Tears are a natural, essential part of a baby’s development, but by the time children near the two-year mark crying takes on a different meaning. I want this. I need that. Why did you take away this and that from me?
Or, in our household, tears mean Mommy isn’t around. Yes, my two sons are Momma’s boys, addicted to their mother’s very presence. It’s not as if I’m absent in their lives. I work from home, so I’m never too far from sight. I read with them as much as possible, cook up some mean “waffle snacks” each morning and serve as their de facto horse when it’s cowboy time.
Yet when I greet Benjamin each morning, an hour when my wife is already at work, his first words are usually, “mamma … mamma …” The arrival of Daddy doesn’t improve his mood. When mom leaves the house to run an errand or meet up with her girlfriends, tears usually erupt.
When I leave the house … cue the crickets.
Elijah, nearly four, isn’t as Mommy dependent, but at bed time he almost always demands his mother read him off to slumberland.
I can take it. I know my wife is a great mom, and there’s every reason in the world for the boys to adore her. And yet a tiny part of me wouldn’t mind if my temporary absence inspired a tear or two. Just once. That’s all.
I was thinking about this immature reaction last night when I asked Elijah to join me on a Staples run. Benjamin was invited to come as well, but he refused to put on his winter coat. It frightens me we’re still two months away from him entering his Terrible Twos.
I was buckling Elijah into his car seat when he told me he was glad Benjamin wasn’t joining us. Why, I asked. Because now we can spend some time together, he said with a smile.
That beats tears any day of the week.