My two boys, being close in age, have a lot of clothes that look interchangeable, with only a slight difference in size. This means that they regularly wear each others’ clothes and my older boy will come out in high-water pants while my younger son has pants that drop around his ankles because he’s not wide enough to hold them up. The only time this becomes an issue is when the mix up happens with their underpants. It’s not a big deal for my younger son, but when my five-year-old comes out in 3T briefs, I start to worry. Now that they mostly dress themselves, I don’t discover anything until bedtime, or when my older boy’s eyes start bulging out of his head. That’s when I do a quick clothing label check and then suggest that he and I go back to the dresser and maybe pick something that would help him breathe better.
My wife is out of town for a several day training class. It’s only an hour away and the kids were really missing Mommy so I took them after school to visit her during her break. It made for a great way to spend the afternoon/evening since if we came directly home after school, I’d have three grumpy kids to deal with all evening whereas with our excursion, I had three slightly less grumpy kids to deal with for only an hour before bed.
On our way home from our visit, I thought it would be nice to take the kids out to dinner in a restaurant instead of chicken nuggets from a drive through, which, for all its convenience, is something I’d prefer to minimize. We ended up in a truck stop at a Shari’s restaurant. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Shari’s, it’s similar in style to a Big Boy or Denny’s. What made this meal special is that it’s the first time I took all three kids by myself to a sit down restaurant. Well, I can’t remember ever taking them out by myself to a sit-down restaurant, which means it could have happened but my mind blocked out the horror either as a coping mechanism or by electro-shock and/or chemical intervention. Regardless, it was all new to me this time.
I don’t know how long it took me to realize it, but somewhere during the hour-long process, I realized that it was not only not unpleasant, but it was actually fun. As my guys grow older, they have the patience to sit longer, are able to entertain themselves by talking to each other and to me, and occupy their mind with crayons and reading materials.
I sat back and watched as my three kids colored on their kid menus, showed their drawings to each other, talked about their day. Every moment when I observe a milestone in their childhoods, it is a time of immense pride with a touch of sadness. The pride comes from watching my children grow into the people they were meant to become; the sadness from leaving behind another wonderful phase in my babies’ lives.
I hope my kids always enjoy each others’ company as they do now. Maybe in twenty years they’ll still be meeting for the occasional dinner date and if I’m lucky, I could join them one time. At some point during the meal, I’ll just have to sit back quietly, watch them together, and remember this day.