October 10, 2002 - Thursday
We've been slow getting out of the house in the mornings this week and I've not made the two minute detour to "go on the bumpy road," a dirt street that's runs in something of an arc beside the main route to Harry's preschool. It's gotten to be something Harry asks for every morning and not granting the request has meant that I leave Harry at school immediately after we have a verbal tussle in the car. Today, and perhaps another time this week, I've picked up Harry to the news that he's been a little sad and I wonder whether leaving him on a down note didn't make him that way.
I spent a lovely afternoon with the boys at the supermarket, with Jeremy's smiling face looking out from the child seat in the cart and Harry be so polite to the cashier in the checkout line. Then, I watched my two happy boys playing at the "playground with the lots and lots of slides" and had a conversation with another mother that hinted at how good my boys generally are. So, positive re-enforcement flowed to the surface as I talk to Harry at bedtime.
"Harry, do you know you're a very special boy," I tell him with love in my heart.
"Why?" he asks, a little suspiciously. I didn't expect that. I thought he would just take me at my word. I think for a moment.
"Well, because you're very smart. And because you're a very good reader. And, because you're very good at music and playing the piano."
Harry doesn't say anything, but I can see in his face that he appreciates the sentiments.
"And, do you know that you are the youngest person in your class at school and you're still one of the smartest kids?" I don't really know that this is literally true, but it's true enough for me and I don't see any harm is saying it to him. But, I don't know if Harry understands this idea of being the youngest and what that means. His apparent enthusiasm for my comments has plateaued a little, suggesting he does not. I make a lurching effort to explain it, but ultimately decide to stick with the positive.
"You do very well with all the other kids at school and Cathleen says you're one of the nicest kids there. And, that makes me so proud." I go on to tell him how I'm really looking forward to going to the cabin with him tomorrow and how I think we're going to have a really good time and I can see that he's happy.
Our goodnight ritual is still the same as it has been for almost a year, although Harry's enthusiasm for the words comes and goes a little depending on the night. I'll say "goodnight, Harry" and he'll usually say "goodnight" in return, though sometimes it takes me saying it again to him in a response-expecting way and sometimes his words will be muffled as he hides his face in his pillow, away from my kiss. Then I'll tell him that I'll see him in the morning as I get up from his bed. We'll have another little exchange about how wide I should leave the door open and sometimes Harry tries to stretch this out to keep me around a little longer. Then, I'll probably say goodnight one more time from outside the room and go away. That all happened tonight, too, except Harry did not try to have me dally. Somewhere in that discussion about Harry being a special boy, he became an especially sweet boy. Tonight he told me him loved me right out and agreed that his door was just right the way I had it.
"Goodnight, Harry," I said that one last time.
But then, unexpectedly, from inside in as gentle a voice as Harry has came, "goodnight, daddy. I'll see you in the morning, daddy."