Lovely Wife has invited some people over for cocktails. She's put a lot of work into preparing for this. Bro-in-law and his wife are here, Mom- and Dad-in-law are about, all are helpful and in holiday spirits.
Ben's had a rough couple of days. Right on the tail end of a round
of amoxycillin for a sinus infection, he spent a morning throwing up --
the nurse says it's probably stomach flu. That was followed by the
gross thing you parents know usually happens next (it's still going
on). Given that, he's in a pretty good mood.
The house renovation has been tough for him too, losing his major
play-place and being subjected to random, loud construction noises. He also misses school,
and periodically says his schoolmates' names questioningly. He loves his Nanna and
Pappa, Auntie S, and Uncle J, but it still stresses him in some way I
don't understand to have anyone in the house, no matter how loving.
The floors are finished, but the bathroom/laundryroom construction is in full swing. We won't be using the bottom half of the house. Normally, that's where kids go to hide when the grown-ups have a party.
Everything's ready, everybody's scrubbed. The house that we do have is spic and span. When the first guests arrive, Ben starts gets clingy. When more folks show up, it quickly becomes too much.
We try to find happy places in the house, but cannot. Voices and footsteps are too loud everywhere. Ben starts saying, "Go walkabout!" repeatedly, so we do.
It's dark outside and clear, but not too cold. We bundle up, and head across the street to the church parking lot. There's a light dusting of snow, and Ben scuffs his feet through it. We talk about tracks and have a good time, walking backwards and what-not.
Ben has a Matchbox car with him and finds some ramps to roll it down, but the snow gets in the way. Maybe Matchbox makes a snowplow. Note to self.
I ask him if he'd like a song, and he says yes. I start singing a refrain from "Danny Boy", probably a little too loud, but there's a nice echo. I used to sing lots of different songs to Bubba, but my repertoire got pretty limited with Ben.
Tonight, he asks for more "Danny Boy", and it warms me. Ben chases snowflakes across the parking lot, and I sing "Heartbreak Hotel" in my best Elvis and that crawdad song. He slides adroitly backwards down a ramp, and I sing "Oh Lord, Won't You Buy Me a Mercedes Benz".
I can see the lights from my house across the parking lot, and can imagine the conversations. I wish there were two of me -- one to be with my spouse and be a grown-up cocktail party-goer, and one to be with Ben in this moment. Barring that, I pick this...Ben and I are having a great time.
Eventually, I run out of songs and he gets a little cold. We decide to go back to the party. The grown-ups are talking loudly and with much animation, so we retreat to the basement. After a bit of fun with the dogs, Ben puts his PJs on, goes to bed, and I rejoin the world of adults.