Wednesdays With Manu

“It’s my special day, Daddy!”

It’s funny to me how much our lives have changed since January. A new job, selling our house, welcoming a second kid, moving twice; a bunch of pretty significant events all squeezed into the span of just a few months. There were plenty of times during those seemingly endless months where Tahera and I both had to grit our teeth and just dig deep to get through all of the work that had to be done.

But now that’s over. We’ve settled in to our lives here in Connecticut and back to a more normal day-in, day-out existence. There’s been time to catch our breath; even to reflect, if the mood suits us. And it’s in that reflection that I really become aware of the extent to which things have changed in our lives. There’s obvious things, sure: New digs, longer hours, commutes,  overnight call; Mundane stuff.  But that’s not the change that strikes me. Rather, it’s the changes I see in my sons.

This evening, as has become a cherished custom at the Parvez nest, Arman and I went out for our weekly one-on-one time. “Just the big boys, Zeemu,” Tahera said to the little guy as Arman and I gave him pecks on his ample cheeks and wished him good night. “Maybe you can go with them when you’re older.”

Azeem typically chortles with delight at anything Manu says or does, and these goodnight kisses are no exception. I walked out the door with Arman, impressed by how gentle and caring my older son is, and how much his younger brother has learned to say while still not knowing a single word.

‘Wednesday evenings with Manu’ became a regular thing a few weeks after we’d moved to Connecticut. It follows my outpatient clinic Tuesdays, where I typically don’t get home until after both kids are in bed. I love it because it feels like I’m making up a bit of the time I missed from the night before, where I’m not able to be around for Arman’s bath-story-bed routine.(I hate missing his bedtime routine.)

We began with trips to the local library to spread a blanket in the lawn and enjoy their free summer concert series. Most of the time Manu would run around the lawn with his trundling, legs-comically-close-together stride, and I would chase after him. Arman would always make a point of stopping whenever a song ended and turning to the stage and asking for more music, so I have no doubt that he truly enjoyed the concerts themselves and not just the big grassy expanse to run around in. During the concerts it was fun for me to just observe what would catch his attention as the played on the lawn, and more fun still when he’d insist on my examining his finds with him.

The concert series ended last Wednesday, so this week I decided to take him to a nearby park and let him ride his tricycle. Now, let’s be clear. Manu rides a tricycle the same way Melania Trump goes for a Sunday drive: It’s entirely a passive affair where he dispenses with such unpleasantries as generating propulsion. “Parent Steering!” beamed the Radio Flyer tricycle box in bright blue bubble-lettering. ‘some assembly required.’

‘Parent yoke! Get ready for a workout!’ would’ve been closer to the mark.

But while I was chauffeuring him around on his tricycle, I got to see just how intently he was taking in all of his surroundings, and appreciate how much he had to say about them.  I heard a detailed account of his seeing two bicycles, a volleyball game, a froggy, a very friendly puppy, and a creek. Oh, how I heard about the creek.

But that there is precisely the thing. The Change. Arman is so much The Boy where once he was The Baby. He runs now. He says “please,” and “thank you.” He cuddles with his baby brother and is always gentle when he does it. And when it comes down to it, that’s what I love about my Wednesdays with him. They’re my weekly window into the changes going on in his world. They’re a way of making sure that I don’t get so caught up in the goings on of the grown-up world that I miss him growing up.

And I know they’re special for him too, because now he tells me so in full sentences.

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