Last night was a rough night in our household. Baby C was cranky when I picked him up after work. He did not have a nap yesterday afternoon. He was fussy and nothing would please him.
It was a struggle to get his socks, shoes, and coat on, but when we finally did I was able to get him out to the car and we left the sitter’s house. Five minutes later, he was fast asleep in his car seat.
It takes roughly 30 to 40 minutes to get home from the sitter’s house. When we got home I attempted to wake Baby C up because I was afraid that if he slept all evening he wouldn’t sleep through night. He fussed, cried, and screamed, so I sat in the recliner with him and let him go back to sleep on my chest for another 45 minutes or so.
When dinner was ready, it was time to wake him up. He screamed. He cried. He yelled. Nothing would pacify him. We offered him cookies, bananas, and Honey Nut Cheerios, which are his favorite foods. He said “okay” to each but when we attempted to hand them to him for him to eat he would cover his face and say, “No, all done.”
My mother-in-law took him and I quickly consumed my meal so that I could take him back so she could eat. We played hot potato with him for a while because after so many seconds of one person holding him he would look to another and ask to be held by that person. “My mommy? My daddy? My gran gran?” he kept saying over and over. So we kept passing him around in a vain effort to placate him.
After roughly 15 minutes of that I decided to take him upstairs to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. He loves that show and I figured if anything would cheer him up that would be it. So I grabbed him, his banana, and his cup, and we headed upstairs.
He immediately calmed down once I was able to get the show started. After the first episode was over he had calmed down enough that he no longer needed to be held. After the third show he was playing with his toys.
At that moment I decided to take him back downstairs to spend time with his “gran gran” because the few minutes she was able to spend with him he was unruly and crying. She loves spending time with him and he with her. So we went downstairs.
He immediately headed to the dining room table with her. The dining room table has a bench on one side which he loves to play on. We have a little game now where he sits on the bench and I sit across from him on the other side of the table and we roll his cars (car cars, as he calls them) back and forth.
So there we were when my father-in-law emerged from his bedroom, which my mother-in-law affectionately (or not) refers to as his “cave.” He went into the kitchen for a moment to fix himself something to eat and asked if Baby C was doing better and if I thought he would be up all night.
I answered his questions and he went back into the kitchen. Some time later he stopped and watched me play with his grandson for just a few moments. Then, out of nowhere, he said, “You’re a good father,” and walked back to his “cave” without another word.
Sure, he was drunk, but I’ve found more often than not that intoxication brings the truth right out of people. People just don’t have the wherewithal to come up with a lie while under the influence. Not in my experience, anyhow.
This meant a lot to me for a number of reasons. My father-in-law is a very difficult man to please. He’s gruff and surly. He doesn’t let most people in. He rarely compliments. He never admits when he’s wrong. He also knows loss. His son committed suicide. In short, he’s been through and experienced a great deal. So for him to not only think I am a good father, but to actually say it to me as well…it means a lot. It literally warmed me up inside. His approval made me feel validated.
I’ve been told I’m a good father before. My wife has told me. My mom has told me. But I expect to hear those things from people who love me. I think that I’m a pretty decent father. But for some reason it meant something coming from him. He’s a man of few words, at least to me he is.
So I’m a good father. Who knew?