I love how the house smells when dinner is cooking. Spices and meat and vegetables and banana muffins. It smells homey, warm, and inviting–walking inside to a house of good smells just makes me happy, even when the walk has only been to the mailbox for the furniture warehouse flyers and other various junk mail. Afternoons are hard, though. Sophia is grumpy, because she really needs two naps a day, but she only thinks she needs one. I try to keep her entertained for just a few minutes so I can chop the veggies for the salad, but she doesn’t want any part of the activites that usually make her happy. Throwing all the silverware on the floor around the kitchen? Already done. Pulling the cans off of the turntable and leaving tuna in random places around the house? Been there, done that.
I usually feel pretty good about how entertained I keep Sophia. We read books, we go to the park, we take walks, we go on bike rides, we read more books, we listen to music, we dance, we sing, we read more books… we read a lot of books… but somehow, whatever we do is never quite enough to make her give me just a half hour of time to get some dinner cooked. Turns out, I can actually hold her and do a great deal of most things that need doing, so in most cases that is what I do. I’m never entirely sure that it really helps matters though. Sure, she’s reasonably happy if I’m holding her, but if and when I do need to set her down to fix something in the oven or on the stovetop all hell will break loose. It really would be so much easier if she would just accept the fact that when it is time to make dinner, mummy cannot play.
Sophia is on my hip again, one hand wrapped around the shoulder of the arm that holds her, the other hanging onto the neck of my shirt with a grim determination to not be set down. She watches everything I do in the kitchen with a grumpy, stoic expression. Her lips pushed out into a pout, I can just see a foreshadowing of the days that must be coming when she learns to talk. I can almost hear her two-year-old voice complaining in her one-year-old babbles. Outside, I hear the garage door open and close. I can’t help smiling, and breathing a breath of relief. That moment when my Superman gets home feels like the turning moment in a battle, when the reinforcements show up with better guns, ammo, and morale.
Oh yes, I’m sure all of you stay-at-home parents know exactly what I mean. That sweet, blessed, all-powerful moment when the garage door opens, and you are assured that you are not in fact, alone in the world with a person who refuses to talk sense, cries whenever something is wrong and sometimes when nothing is wrong, leaks graham cracker crumbs and cheerios EVERYWHERE, and can singlehandedly undo the work of two hours of folding clothes in two seconds. You can finally take a breath of relief and talk like an adult again.
Plus, I don’t know if it’s just my daughter or all children everywhere, but no matter how grumpy she may have been, when Sophiapea sees her daddy she is all smiles.
He gives me a big hug and a kiss, his arms wrapped tight around both Sophia and me, and lifts us off the floor a little. Sophia’s grumpy little pout is gone. She is grinning, and wrinkling up her nose,as she holds her arms wide out to him. “Sophia, baby!” He scoops her up into his arms, kisses her cheek, and then blows a raspberry on it. “Have you been good today, or have you been a little rat?”
She grins coyly at him, and snuggles up, her head on his shoulder. She’s all like, “Oh, Daddy! I’m so happy to see you! I’ve been a complete angel all day, and smiled like a cherub, and given mommy lots and lots of kisses and smiles, and I haven’t cried at all, and it’s been sunshine, and butterflies, and rainbows, and unicorns all day long!”
“Aw, Sophia, are you giving Daddy hugs? I love you too, babygirl.” He says. He smiles and leans his cheek against Sophia’s fuzzy head. A half second later she sits up straight, her eyebrows lifted, her face serious, and begins babbling baby talk at him.
And just like that, her mood changes. She’s happy. She’ll play with her toys for a little bit, and then we’ll chase her around the house on our hands and knees and tickle her until she giggles. The rest of the evening is fun. Charming. Delightful. Stupendous. We look at Sophia and give ourselves a pat on the back for making such an adorable kid.
Thank heaven for The Reinforcements! 🙂
(I love you, Superman)