Monday, February 13, 2006

A Very Nice Start to the Day

This morning I received a very nice start to my day. Often I am up and out of the house before everyone else awakens. I have found that if I can get to my office by 6:30 or 7:00 I have the opportunity to focus in the quiet morning hours before emails arrive and telephone calls come and people stop by. So, my best mornings usually begin in the dark quietness with the only interaction necessary involving letting our famiy dog, Gizmo, out for this morning routine. Today, however, I decided to go to work a little later than usual.

After awakening two of our older boys, I started a load of laundry, returned back upstairs to administer Dominyk's morning medications, and to awaken the four boys who share that room. By this time the girls were already up and about, getting ready for school, and Claudia was in the shower awaiting her day. Dominyk is always next in the shower, and for once he shampooed his hair as requsted and spent only minimal time in the shower. John is the first to go to school, then follow a couple more waves. I heard the girls say, "Bye, dad. Have a good day." Tony and Dominyk, typically crabby and slow, were actually well focused and off to school before I knew it. I spent a few quiet moments catching up on the morning news and prepared to leave our house.

Stepping outside into the frosty morning I walked to our car. As always on winter mornings, I started the car and prepared to de-frost the windows. As I walked to the east side of the car my eyes caught cryptic scribblings in the frost. In order to understand my emotions at this time, you also need to know some history. Our car is now almost seven years old, but when we first purchased it back in 2000, one of our children (everyone has consistently blamed Dominyk, the youngest, but never with sufficient proof to substantiate the claim) decided to carve the "F" word in the back of our then-new car. It was carved, with a sharp object, deep into the paint, and as a matter of principle, I have never chosen to have it re-painted. So now, any time I see words on or near the car, my heartbeat begins to thud and my pulse begins to race as adrenalin courses through my angry veins.

As my cortisol levels began to rise, I took closer note. In the early morning frost were two words and a symbol: "I {heart} you." I smiled. Broadly. Unkowingly. Blessedly. Gratefully. With regret I scraped the frost from the windows and watched the words fade into my memory.

Moving toward the back of the car, continuing to scrape frost, I discovered yet another love note. "Super Dad" was the trunk's affirmation. I smiled again. More broadly. More unknowingly. More blessedly. More gratefully. Fortunately, I didn't have to scrape the trunk, so I looked at the child-like etchings a couple of more times before getting into the car and heading off to the office.

After school I began the inquisition as each child arrived home. "So, are you the one who wrote on my windshields this morning?" "No, dad. I promise it wasn't me. What did it say, anyway?" "I'll tell you when I'm ready," was my standard reply. "Do you know who did it?" "No, dad, I don't have any idea who did it. Was it really bad?" "I'll tell you when I'm ready."

Child after child was questioned with no success. No success, that is, until Dominyk arrived home with his PCA. (He usually is the last one home with his PCA, and tonight it was at about dinner time). As he walked into the kitchen where I was preparing dinner, I said, "Dominyk, did you write on my windows this morning?" "Yep," was his monosyllabic response. I bent down, looked into his fawn-brown eyes, took his cheeks in my hands and asked, "What did you write?" "I love you and super dad," he responded. "Dominyk, I can't remember the last time I have had such a nice start to my day. Thank you. That was very special." He smiled and said, "Hey, dad, I'm hungry. Can I have a banana?"

Very special indeed, especially if it was he who seven years ago carved the "F" word into the back of my car. And maybe now everytime I see that word which is permanently etched into the paint, I will remember the other two phrases, vanished as they now are, but deeply etched into my heart.

PS: The photo above is circa 2000, about the time the dreaded word in question first appeared on my new car.


FAScinated said...

Bart, you made me cry. I can't even say anything else, I'm too choked up. ~Kari

meg said...

As a mom to 12, 10 by adoption, I feel your pride. Parker often wonders how he is doing as a dad and if he is making a difference. Bart? you do make a difference in your kids lives too. It is nice to get a little thanks dad! every once in a while! Keep on keeping on.