I saw Gwen running.
Up and down the aisle, around other tables, happy as could be. She would stop every now and then and look back, just to see if we were watching her. (Hey, everyone loves an audience, right?)
Gwen is two years old, three this August. She is adorable, and not just in that way that every parent thinks that their little girl is adorable. She’s always happy (I’ve learned to get over my mistrust of people who are always happy) unless there is some dire threat to the Unbreakable Rightness of the Universe, such as an empty sippy cup or a locked door inhibiting her access to power tools.
She is amazing.
I saw Walt throwing a ball, again, after having been told multiple times by multiple Persons In Authority to NOT THROW THE BALL.
Honestly: it’s a kind of place where people bring their kids, and kids throw balls that they just won, at great expense, from fickle games (aka, vending machines). It bounced and bounced. He dived under tables, chased it around the room, asked me to throw it to him (I am NOT an athlete, but at two feet I do alright) and threw it right back. Sometimes, directly at my face. From two feet away.
I have a thing about things being close to my face. Not sure why, but such is life. Anyway.
He was so very, very happy.
I saw Wyatt shoving yet another piece of pizza into his mouth, glaring at me because I told him he needed to eat before he could play. His cousins, brother and sister were already playing, but I didn’t focus on that. I had told Wyatt that he needed to eat, and I was sticking to my guns.
The other kids – Walt, Gwen, four cousins – were playing video games and running around like little hooligans. But, I made him sit and eat. And, when he ran off and didn’t do as he was told, I took him to the car and sat with him until he calmed down (he was upset because – duh – I’d taken him to the car when the other kids were playing.
I took him back inside, watched him eat half of a slice before letting him go.
I saw him having a blast.
(In my defense, I also saw him very hungry for pizza after we left, much later.)
I saw my wife, bringing everyone together so that the kids could play and, for once, just *be kids*.
I saw myself, mostly oblivious to all of this until hours later.
I saw myself complaining about having to go out with everyone to a place where there is nothing I can eat (long story).
I saw myself complaining about the time it would take that I could be spending on something “productive.”
I saw myself being impatient with my wife and the kids trying to get ready for this, and with others involved because there wasn’t a real plan or procedure involved, just a random “hey, why not?” impetus.
I saw people who loved me, who wanted to be together, tolerating my intolerance and impatience.
I am thankful for my kids, and for my wife. Without her, they would not get to just be kids. I am, sometimes, too focused, too concerned with outcomes, to the point that I miss the experience. Without her, my life would be a critic’s review, not the movie.
I saw Audrey, an amazing mother, partner and all-around bad-ass, making it all work.
I am grateful, undeserving, and humbled.