Daryl, (Never) On His Own

Daryl recently attended a summer camp out of state with a friend. His dad told him to be sure to send us a picture every day.

By the end of the first day, there was no picture. No surprise.

“Where is today’s picture?” I asked in a text. “How was it?”

He responded the next day with this:

That was it. No text, no nothing. What a punk. I said as much in the conversation that ensued.

(My husband responded first. I was calling my son a punk, not my spouse.)

That was Day 2 and the entirety of the conversation. Notice he left me hanging.

Day 3 brought more silence and no picture. I gave up. You honestly shouldn’t expect much out of a thirteen year old boy.

And then, nearly 48 hours after I asked my questions, he responded, “Yeah, it was cold and sometimes scary.”

Then… then… he sent a picture! Unprompted! And it wasn’t of his feet in socks he’d probably been wearing for several days. It was an honest-to-goodness quality picture of a creek surrounded by trees from a hike he had gone on.

He topped it off by carrying on a conversation with his dad about the hike and what he had purchased as gifts for his siblings. When his dad told him he loved him, Daryl responded, “I love you too.” And that’s when I knew.

The boy was ready to come home.

He’s typically an aloof child and not very expressive of his emotions. But one of the best things about him going on a trip like this is the quality of hug I get when he returns.

He actually hugs back instead of waiting patiently for me to finish and he’ll stay in the hug as long as I want. For minutes even. I sometimes wonder if he’s just being tolerant of his mother. My husband is pretty sure that he does it because he needs the hugs too. Which makes me all sorts of warm and happy inside.

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Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

After traveling over an hour to my daughter’s last volleyball game and then sitting through the B team’s 3-match game, I needed to use the bathroom. I stood up and quietly told my husband where I was headed. As I started down the bleachers, Hal, who is always hopelessly bored at the volleyball games and looking for any possible source of distraction, hopped up and, running to catch up, called out, “Wait! I want to go with you!”

I laughed and said, “I’m just going to the bathroom, honey!”

He gave an embarrassed “Oh” and began to return to his seat. The couple sitting near where I was standing smiled. Then, as I turned to walk away, he called out again, “Wait! I want a hug!”

Their smiles grew bigger as he hurried down the steps and gave me a long, tight hug. As we began to release from it, he grabbed me again and said, “Wait! One more!”

I finally got him to let go and again attempted to resume my journey. I was almost to the bottom of the bleachers when he did it again. “Wait! Just one more!”

He raced back down to me for another hug and I began to wonder if I’d ever make it out of the gym. “I’m just going to the bathroom,” I said. “I won’t be gone that long.”

The couple was openly laughing at this point. I love this kid. And I love his hugs. And I love his enthusiasm. And I love the little happy moments he creates for the people nearby.

What Beneath A Pillow Lurks

Underneath a boy’s pillow is a mysterious and dangerous place that only the bravest of parents should dare to venture.

I have found quite the variety of items under pillows over the years. The most common, by far, has been candy. There is a bear pillow that is still waiting for me to figure out how to unstick the blue candy cane that is matted into its fur after Hal tired of sucking on the candy during the night and tucked it under his pillow for safe keeping.

When Daryl was very young, I came to tuck him in and he said, “You can give me a hug, but don’t put your hands under my pillow.” That, obviously, caused me to do just that, revealing his candy stash he planned to consume that night.

The Nintendo DS has been a recent sub-pillow dweller, although we appear to have resolved that issue. I have extracted quite a few books, toys, flashlights, even pen and paper.

All the candy and toys in the world couldn’t have prepared me for last night, however. My natural hugging of a tucked-in child causes my hand to sweep under the pillow. As I hugged Hal, I thrust my right hand under the pillow and was stabbed!

“Ow! What in the world??!!”

I pulled one of Daryl’s jumbo thumb tacks out from under the pillow. “You have got to be kidding me! What were you thinking, Hal? Do you have any idea how much this would have hurt if you had stabbed yourself in the night? Look! I’m bleeding. This was a terrible idea!”

He looked suitably abashed and gave me extra-tight squeeze hugs in an attempt to make amends. I never expected to injure myself tucking my children into bed. I think I might start wearing heavy duty rubber gloves and searching the bed before I go in for the hug.