Several times over the past couple of months I've had the chance to visit, talk, laugh, and play with my son.
Each of the visits has been significantly different from the others. One visit included Athena and her nuclear family (mom, dad, and brother). One was just Athena and me. The visit right before Christmas was a special one. It was just me, Prof Plum, Ms Scarlet, and little Festus. Athena was buried under school work at the time and couldn't shake free any time during the crunch of final's week.
I was disappointed she couldn't join me, but as soon as Festus waved "hello" as I entered the kitchen that disappeared. There was a lot of conversation, both between the adults and with Festus. He had just gotten a substantially bigger vocabulary and was all too happy to show it off. Though, at two and a half, it still takes some work to understand what he's saying. Doubly so when he zigs into Spanish and zags back into English mid-thought. All those years studying Latin are showing their worth.
But the real joy of that visit came near the end. We had already eaten and were winding down. I sat on the floor in the living room, knowing that Festus was soon to enjoy his bedtime stories. To my surprise he picked up a book, walked straight toward me, turned, and sat in my lap. He held up the book cuing me to take it from him. Ms Scarlet asked "do you want him to read you your bedtime story?" Again, to my surprise and delight he replied with a clearly audible "yes".
That was the first time my son clearly and demonstrably chose me to do something with him. I had butterflies. My heart leapt to my throat. The only time I can remember that kind of giddy feeling, the disbelief at the joy I encountered, was when I met Athena. In that moment, all doubt that my son knows and loves me disappeared.
That's something I don't talk about much, but it had been a lingering worry. Did my son actually recognize me? Was he starting to know who I am, or see me as someone important, or at least worthwhile? Silly questions to ask of a relationship with a toddler, perhaps, but they were asked nonetheless. And they were answered;