Being a parent makes you a sentimental sap. At least it makes me one. My oldest is now a teenager and my youngest is rapidly approaching the age of sulky dissatisfaction. I’ve watched as my kids have transformed from adorable, sweet toddlers to brooding, eye-rolling teenagers who’d rather spend time alone in their rooms than be stuck in a common living space with their parents. It’s enough to make me long for the days when they needed us every minute. Eh, maybe not.
Nevertheless, my wife and I do reminisce about when our kids were younger quite frequently nowadays. I guess that’s our way of dealing with our kids growing up. Each of our kids had memorable, cute moments and tendencies that have become part of our family lore like my son’s infectious and hilarious toddler laugh, his rendition of “Elephants Have Winkles” (not a misspelling; that’s how he said it as a toddler), my daughter’s refusal to accept an answer (“Let’s go look,” she’d say when we told her we didn’t have something like a snack in the refrigerator), and her hyper-excited reaction when she’d hear the Dora the Explorer theme come on the TV. When I think about these things, I get all warm inside and smile the biggest smile. These moments, they make me happy beyond belief.
I have so many beautiful things like this that make my life full, but perhaps one of my favorites comes from when my daughter was a toddler. I’ve always woken up early in the morning. I like to get up and relax and take my time in the mornings. When my daughter came along, she became a morning person with me. Suddenly, my quiet alone-time in the mornings included this excitable little girl with wild hair. We’d have breakfast together, and then, she’d want to watch Dora the Explorer. I’d turn on the TV for her and she’d want to be wrapped in a blanket as she watched the show. I’d gladly oblige telling her that I’d bundle her up so that she’d be comfortable. This became a regular thing, but because she couldn’t quite say “bundle” or her toddler mind heard something else, she’d ask me to “bumble” her. Every single morning she’d ask this and sometimes at other points during the day when she wanted to be wrapped up. I’d just smile at her request and make an animated effort to ensure she was tightly wrapped in her blanket. She’d laugh and smile and my heart would just burst. That little girl.
Had she been wise in the ways of the world and the weaknesses of dads, she would have asked for a pony and a nice car in those moments. She would have them without question for nothing weakens the resolve of a father like the sweet smile and happiness of his toddler daughter. Now, when she rolls her eyes at me or stomps off to her room mumbling something about how I’m just a stupid, old man, I think back to those sweet moments when she used to say “Bumble me, daddy!” She hates it when I tell this story or when I ask her (jokingly) if she wants to be “bumbled.” I do it because it’s my way of reliving a treasured moment from her childhood, but secretly, when no one’s in the room with me but the dogs, I bumble the dogs. They seem happy (or spoiled), but it’s just not the same.