The other night I wanted to take a nice hot bath and finish a good book that I had been reading. I was tired and a little stressed, and all I wanted to do was lie in the hottest water I could stand and lose myself in the book's pages. The problem with this little "getaway" for me was the fact that "Aqua Boy" lives in our house in the form of Caleb. There is not a bath that is taken in our neighborhood that he doesn't know about. When he realized what I was going to do, he started asking to take one too. Of course I said no.
"Oh Pleeeeeeeeeeazzzzzzzzzzzze Daddy?"
"Caleb, I said no."
"But I wannnnnaaa!"
After a couple of hundred no's, I told him that I would think about it. Then I put my finger on my cheek and tapped it a bit (to show that I was thinking) and then said no. I probably shouldn't have done this, but hey, we parents can have a little sarcastic fun right? The problem was that Mommy saw me do this. Not good. I know better than to mess with the head of my wife's offspring. Now I knew I was in trouble.
I climbed into the bathtub and turned on the water. Ahhhhhhhh!! This was going to be relaxing... Suddenly there was Caleb. He had asked Kristi if he could take a bath with me after I had read for awhile. She told him to go ask Daddy, so there he was with big old puppy dog eyes that still had tears in them. "Daddy, can I take a bath with you when you are done?"
I knew I was trapped. "OK." I said. "When Daddy is done reading, you can come in here with me."
His eyes lit up and he said, "That'll be great!"
I went back to my book. The next time I looked up he had taken all his clothes off and had plopped himself up on the toilet. He wasn't in a comfortable sitting position either. He had his feet on the seat and he was squatting down like a catcher. I looked at my naked son and asked him, "What are you doing?"
"I'm waiting for you to be done."
"Caleb. When I am done I will call for you and then you can come in. OK?"
Back to my book.
Once again I heard him come into the bathroom. This time he was carrying his toy fishing pole that he had gotten for Christmas from his Aunt Jana.
"What are you doing, Caleb?"
"I'm just watching you."
"Caleb, you need to leave until I call you."
He pulled up the little stool that he uses to reach the sink to brush his teeth and promptly plopped his naked buttocks down on it.
"Caleb, you can't come in until I am done."
"I know Daddy. I'll just sit here and wait until you are done."
There he sat like Opie from the Andy Griffith Show, with his fishing pole and his really bad hair cut that made his ears stick out...
Back to my book.
In the meantime my wife was sitting out in the kitchen listening to all of this... grinning.
By now it was really hard to concentrate on my book. I had only twenty minutes before I had to get ready for work, and I was really looking forward to relaxing.
I tried to concentrate on the words...
I looked down in the water to see a great big plastic Fisher Price hook& connected to a colorful Fisher Price fishing pole& connected to the little hands of my bare son.
"Caleb. You can't go fishing in the bathtub right now. Daddy is trying to take his bath."
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry." (Caleb always apologizes in threes.)
Instead of leaving, he remained on his stool. I tried to read, but it was getting harder and harder.
"Caleb. What are you doing now?"
"I'm just gonna sit here and wait for you to get done."
I tried to read one last time, but I couldn't. He sat there next to the bathtub just staring at me with those big brown "doe" eyes, his new fishing pole over his shoulder.
What could I do? He broke me down. Minute by minute he slowly and methodically broke me down and reduced me to emotional mush. My son is not a very patient three-year-old. I guess not many are, but I couldn't believe how patient he was being. He wasn't crying and whining like he usually would in this situation.
My heart went out to him. "Caleb. Do you want to come in the bathtub now?"
"That would be great!" (One of his favorite sayings)
"OK. Come on in."
We had a great twenty minutes of splashing, fishing, and being kids together.
I had wanted so badly to relax and read my book; I had wanted it almost too badly. I nearly missed out on a special time with my boy. When I was driving to work that night, I thought about how many times I have told him no: "I'm too busy..." "Maybe tomorrow& " "Not right now, Caleb. I have a video to edit..."
I'm getting better. I am realizing how special my kids' early years are and how fast they go by. So many times, even when I do take the time to spend with my wife and kids, there is something inside of me which keeps saying, "Do you realize how much time you are taking doing this? Do you know how much video editing you could accomplish right now?"
I'm learning to relax. I'm learning to enjoy my free time. I'm learning to take more free time and, thanks to a wonderfully patient wife and three-year-old, the voice inside me is diminishing to a whisper. Sometimes I can't even hear it. Hopefully, I will block it out totally in the near future. Hopefully that voice will begin to say:
"Michael. Do you realize the investment you are making in your son right now?"
"Do you realize that you are honoring your wife and building a closer relationship?"
"Do you realize that twenty years from now it won't matter that you didn't get that work done as quickly as you wanted?"
"Do you realize that your sons, daughters, and wife have become the most important to you?"
I am a ways off... But Lord willing, that day will come.