I walked into the house through the front door. This is something I don't often do. I usually come in through the garage, with my boys ready to open the kitchen door as soon as they hear my footsteps on the stairs below. This day was a little different. Looking back, I can't really remember why that was, but it's really not important. What I do remember was my wife, who was getting ready for work, greeting me with a smile, and no boys were in sight.
My youngest son happened to be sitting on the potty - which is located directly to the right of the aforementioned front door. He was the first to say hello after my wife. But, he didn't say hello, not really. It's too close to Christmas for either of them to be concerned with such trivialities as welcoming their father home. Instead, the newest crop of Christmas requests are flung at me like slingshotted water balloons.
"Daddy," the youngest calls from the bathroom. "Are you home?"
"Yeah, bud," I reply. "What's up?"
"I get my Christmas trains.... Christmas Thomas and Christmas Percy and..." the list continued. I was dumbfounded as to how he could remember so many names from one TV show. A TV show that has been going strong for decades apparently. I used to babysit a kid in the 90's who was a massive Thomas the Train Engine fan. So much so that he used to talk in the British dialect used in the show. That boy forever used words like, cross and cheeky, which I always found amusing. Of course, now it's called Thomas and Friends, but that’s all semantics.
"So that’s it, huh? You're a trains guy now?" I asked him as I peeked into the bathroom.
"Yes, I AM. I AM a trains guy!" He shouts jubilantly. I chuckle and tell him that if he's good Santa might bring him some Christmas Trains. Meanwhile my oldest heard my voice and is now running at me with his Nintendo Switch in hand, begging me for the newest Mario and Sonic Olympics game. I laugh again and tell him the same thing I told the youngest, then move into the kitchen where my wife is collecting her keys and Jacket. I kiss her goodbye and she gives the boys more hugs and kisses before she is off to work. As I mentioned in my first blog post, this routine is the norm around here.
We are a bit low on groceries I notice, peering into the fridge as I attempt to plan dinner. So, when the wife leaves, I get the kids into their boots and coats.
"Daddy, hold my trains," the youngest says, as he stuffs my pants pockets with three trains before we walk down the stairs to get to my truck. I return them to him once he's strapped into his car seat and sweetly he says, "Thank you." When we arrive at the grocery store a few minutes later, he repeats his earlier request.
"Daddy, Hold my trains," jamming the engines into my coat pocket as I lift him from the seat to the pavement. Both boys act surprisingly well in the store. They take turns pushing the cart and accept all the no's I give them when they beg for cookies, chips, or the random toys displayed on the aisle end-caps. My Jedi mind tricks seem to have finally begun to take hold over these little savages in public. Home is another matter, but there is still time.
Later that evening, it was time to wrangle the boys up for bedtime. A trip to the bathroom for each, followed by pajamas. When told they needed to go upstairs to brush their teeth, however, I was met with the bedtime mantra of, two more minutes! I set the timer on my phone (per usual), and when it went off, the eldest pouted his way up the stairs. The younger boy ran to me and again shoved his trains into the pockets of my pants one last time before he scampered up the stairs after his brother.
"Daddy, hold my trains...please." I laugh as I follow them up to complete our bedtime ritual. At least he said please this time, I thought. I may be raising savages, but they will at least be polite savages. I empty my pockets and hand the precious items to my son before reading him his bedtime stories. I couldn't get an I love you, out of him before I left for the evening, but knowing he trusts me with his most valued possessions was enough for me in this moment. Me and my pocket full of trains.