Tuesday, October 4, 2011

(The Threat of) Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

My sons are proud older cousins.  I have a very young niece and an even younger nephew and they love the opportunity to see and interact with both of them.

They are so eager, in fact, that upon a recent overnight stay by my nephew, they invited friends over and showed him off as if he were a new puppy.  They also built him a small house out of cardboard that they proposed he sleep in overnight, so I suppose they might actually think he is a puppy.  I'll have to talk to them about that later.

My point is, my sons are very interested in being supportive of their infant relatives...to a degree.

During the same overnight stay by my nephew, I was charged with the task of consoling him while his bottle was being prepared.  As any competent male, I instantly turned to video entertainment.  I sat down with him in front of my computer and pulled up YouTube where I immediately began playing all the various pirated baby videos I could find.

The effects of the videos were marginal.  Some parts would distract him from his ravenous hunger for unthawed breast milk (a hunger that I'm sure still lives within us all) momentarily but he would eventually turn his head to me in the hopes of discovering the hardware that his uncle just wasn't equipped with.

While the bottle arrived in short order and all was well, one of the videos that seemed to hold his interest for awhile was HBO's Classical Baby.  This is a show my wife and I discovered when my boys were infants and they enjoyed so much that we bought them on DVD.  They were still somewhere in the stack of children's videos that had amassed in their room, collecting dust.

The following morning, when my brother-in-law arrived to pick up my nephew, my wife offered the DVDs to him.  At first, the concept of this excited my sons.  They ran up the stairs with me and watched as I searched for the Classical Baby boxes mixed in amongst The Wiggles (shudder) and Thomas & Friends titles.  Finally, I dug them out and we went downstairs to present them to their new owner.

It was then when the moment of truth arrived.

"No," said my eight-year-old.  "I still like these."

I gave him the sideways, head-tilted look that all adults are instantly endowed with the ability to make the very moment their first child pops out.  It's the look that asks, "Are you being serious?" It simultaneously states, "You had better not be serious."

My seven-year-old displayed momentary maturity when he said to his older brother, "These are for babies," but even as he said this, his eyes were transfixed on the DVD boxes that were about to no longer belong to him.  "They are pretty cool, though," he added.

"These are for your cousin now," I said and prepared to let them deal with the cold, hard truth of letting go.  Then I looked at the three boxes myself.  I mean I really looked at them.  I fondly remembered each of them on my lap, watching each of the DVDs.  I could hear the soothing music playing in my head.  I could feel my oldest son's hand wrapped around my index finger, flicking the tip of it with his thumb as he used to as he was falling asleep.

My sons picked one video of the three to keep and let their little cousin take the other two.  So, instead of learning how to let go of the past, they learned about the art of compromise.  Still a pretty valuable lesson.

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