We spent a week on the road, long hours in the car up to the farm, onto Canberra, and back again through the rolling countryside of Yass and back down the Hume. Beloved drove while I pulled faces, poked, tickled, made oddball noises, passed food and toys and generally tried to stave off the worst-case scenario of 2 kidlets screaming with frustration in a splendid duet. I largely succeeded.
In Canberra there were Beloved's old friends to catch up with, there was my mother-in-law's wedding to prepare and attend, and for much of the time I was the one on primary kidlet duties. It wasn't easy but it brought us closer, and seems to have triggered a daddy phase in Mitta, Boi-Boi, Big Rocks or (if you ask Bear) variations on Lalilolilo.
We talked a lot- he said urgh, grunt, dadada, a-Dah, and I explained exactly why, what, how or where. I lolled around on the floor, playing absently. We trashed newspapers together. And while I did and have done all this with Bear as well, it was, for father and son, an unusual amount of bonding time. We bonded.
He is reaching for me as I walk past, leaning out and extending his arms. He watches me moving around the room, smiles when I speak to him. He does for me what he has done so consistently for Beloved. It's all goodness.
One morning about 4am, Beloved had gone to pat Bear and had fallen asleep in her room (as an aside, no, sleep wasn't part of the package on this trip!). Mitts cried, I picked him up. I was too tired to stand and rock so I collapsed back into the bed, my arm wrapped around him and his head on my shoulder. We both drifted off to sleep, pretty much where we'd landed. I listened to his breathing, felt the instinctive relief all parents must feel from the immediate proximity of a safe, content, healthy child.
He is Zen with the world, but he also gives Zen back.