The payoff

My second child is a force. Trust me, I mean this in the most loving way possible.

He’s a handful and a half to parent – everyday single day. He’s also utterly hilarious and so full of happiness that he’s bursting with love at the seams. At just three-years old, my little guy lives life larger than any person I know on this planet.

This kid has kept me on my toes, and sometimes the edge of my sanity, since the day he was born. Unlike his older sister, he barely slept as a newborn. He started walking and talking early.

He’s also “that kid” at preschool. You know what I’m talking about, right? He’s that kid who impulsively hits another child in the sandbox, flushes something down the toilet, or calls someone a poo-poo face (okay, that one is kind of awesome).

But we also can’t get through dinner every night without cracking up at him and he doesn’t allow us to be lazy, ever. There’s no sitting back and taking it easy – we’re on the go, go, go.

In these three short years we’ve been to the emergency room for broken teeth (stumbled while carrying a metal water bottle), a concussion (ran headfirst into a bathtub), and sliced gums (ate pieces of a broken mug). He’s not clumsy. He moves at lightning speed, constantly.

But underneath all of this kid’s energy and vigor, he has a heart that’s soft and mushy. He will ask, even demand, hugs when he needs to slow down. He tells us when he’s feeling frustrated, angry, or sad.

At bedtime every night, he asks me to sing this to him.  Unfortunately, at 5:30 the next morning, he’s ready to go full speed again. I take a deep breath and climb out of bed, long before I’m ready.

But last night, Brain told me about a conversation they had in the car coming home from preschool:

“Daddy, I miss mommy.  I want her to pick me up from preschool.”

“Are you a momma’s boy?”

“Yes.”

And there it is. The payoff – the moment that will keep me going through the challenges that I know are ahead, like teachers who will complain about how he can’t sit still, or the first time he shows up drunk after a night out, or the first time his heart gets broken.

Because this nutty kid is mine.