Wednesdays with Manu

I ran into a bit of a traffic jam on my way back to New Haven from Middletown for this evening’s outing with Arman, and learned in no uncertain terms (on the 2nd phone call) that he was anxiously awaiting my arrival.

“Where are you?” asked Tahera with a sing-song tone that at once conveys both the in-ear-shotness of Manu and the just-shy-of-hospitalization-grade homicidal ideations toward me that will rapidly be developing if I’m not home immediately. “It’s Manu’s ‘Special Day.’”

“SPECIAL DAY, DADDY,” added Arman in the background in a jubilant holler.

“Five minutes. I’m really close by now.” I replied in a tone that strove for patriarchical impassiveness and achieved little better than squeaky near-panic. “Not more than five.”

“Well. Why don’t you talk to him on speaker until then,” concluded T.

“Well, no.. I. It’ll just be– ”

“SPEAKER! DADDY-SPEAKER!” Screamed the little guy in the background; Grinning, no doubt, like a madman.

*clack*

“HIIII DADDY! SPECIAL DAY! WHAT’REYOOODOOOOO’IN HUUUH?”

“heyyy buddy! How’zit goin little man? Ready to head out?”

“YEAH!”

“Well okay then. I’m almost home and then we can– ”

“SPECIAL! DAYDADDY! SPECIALDAY! C O M E O N N N N!”

::sigh::

Well needless to say, 40+ minute commutes home are bad enough with no traffic, but throw in a traffic-jam and they become a much more excrutiating ordeal. I did eventually make it home (4 minutes later as a matta-fact, Tahera) and Arman and I went for our weekly outing.

The Boy was a feeling a bit under the weather for the last couple of days, so rather than go for another tricycle ride through one of the local parks; I decided we should head over to our local 80’s-ice-cream-poster-clad roadside dessert-o-ramas and tailgate it with a couple cups of soft-serve. Manu got his customary “Babytwistinadish” covered in rainbow sprinkles, while I went for a dish of the much tamer ‘Maple-nut.”

It’s fascinating to me to see what sorts of things Arman comments on when no one’s really directing his attention any which way, and today there was no shortage of fun little exclamations as we sat in the tailgate of Tahera’s car and watched the traffic on Whalley Avenue. On this occasion we saw (between melty rainbow colored spoonfuls) a delivery truck, three backhoes (including a “baby” one), a steamroller and three bulldozers.  He recounted these things easily 10 times while we sat there in the parking lot, always enthusiastically pointing as if he’d discovered each for the first time.

While that may sound kind of boring, I’ve found that if you’re just a little curious about what it’s like to experience life through his almost two-and-a-half year old eyes, it’s easy to get caught up in his enthusiasm. Lately I’ve even been tossing in little oh’s and oh my’s to see where he goes when he’s on a roll. Turns out it typically just turns into a gasoline-soaked word salad of heavy machinery, motorcycles, and combustion noises… but hey, this is my kid we’re talking about here; None of that should come as much surprise.

We also took a few minutes to call my Mother back in Horseheads and say “Salamaikum Gramma” (I’m not sure who was more thrilled by that, him or her), and wish her a Happy Birthday before heading back home.

We did spend a moment sitting on “Daddy’s Motorcycle” after we got back, but seeing as how he’s still “on the mend” from his cold, we were showered, tucked in, and bedtime storied shortly after.

All-in-all, not a bad little Wednesday evening.

Truth be told, I’m surprised at how much I’ve had  to say about what seemed at the time like a pretty tame outing, but I guess that’s what I like most about recounting it here. I find myself really thinking actively about the little moments that make up a whole experience, and that allows me to enjoy them all the more.

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.