Thud, thud | Mark’s Remarks

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When our boys were little, especially when they depended on us for every need, it was rare to have a moment’s peace in the house.

One of them was always up and running around, and most of the time it was both of them. We had the boys two years apart and I always said the plan to have them two years apart looked better on paper. 

I said that all in fun, of course.

We wouldn’t trade them for the world, and they have been a source of continuous enjoyment, wonder and comedy since they became brothers. Love those guys.

Of course, when they were babies, we looked forward to times when they were awake so we could see their little faces, play with them, and talk to them.  They slept all the time, back then.

However, especially when there were two of them and they were in toddler and infant stage together, we would relish an extra moment or two to nap or sleep a little later in the morning. These things rarely happened.

I can remember us putting baby Tanner down for a nap in the next room, and then taking Riley up to his room for a nap also.   We’d either busy ourselves with something we hadn’t finished yet, or we’d take the opportunity to rest. If I am honest, I can tell you Michelle rarely took the time to rest. She certainly didn’t take as much time as I did.

One memory from this stage in our lives comes to mind. Both boys were sleeping. Michelle ran out to the store or on an errand.  I did the helpful thing and sprawled out on the couch.  I must have fallen dead asleep, as I lost all sense of time and snoozed away. 

I was awakened to a deafening growl in my ear, which made me jump out of my unconsciousness with a jolt. I sat up with terror on my face, and my oldest son, age 2.5, looked at me innocently and said, “I a tiger, Dad.” 

In those days, one of our unofficial “alarms” was the sound of one or both boys pounding down the stairs from their bedrooms. At first, it would be a gradual thud; you know, of a person who has just learned to walk, perhaps coming down the stairs on his belly or easing his way down on his back side. I can still hear that “thud, thud” sound of someone coming down the steps and I can still remember how it felt. Nap time is over, put down the task at hand.  The boys are awake.

I can also remember the window blinds in their room. They were stylish, but they let in too much light. For a period of time, when Riley seemed to awaken with the light of day and not fall asleep until the bewitching hour, we were desperate to get some sleep. 

One night, I took dark beach towels up to his room and covered the windows as best I could. In his little toddler voice, he said “You don’t have to do that, Daddy.”

“Oh yes I do,” I said.

Yes, back then we enjoyed them very much but it was always a welcome respite when nap or bedtime came around. The thud on the stairs, the constant motion, the potty training.  I remember it all. And little did we know we’d have two girlies joining them in a few years.

Fast forward to present day. Said boys are now 21 and 19, and it is rare to have them both home at the same time. We look forward to their visits and we often wind up in the living room talking about things, watching old “Twilight Zone” episodes, watching them aggravate their two sisters, and so on. 

We stay up late with conversation and laughter. Their visits are never long enough, nor is it easy to remember what it’s like to have them home.

Over Thanksgiving, they both went out for their annual late-night ritual of Black Friday shopping with their buddies. This event involves going out late on Thanksgiving night and returning in the wee hours of the next morning. The day after Thanksgiving is usually spent sleeping late, and we consider ourselves lucky if they rise before 1 or 2 in the afternoon.

We don’t have the “thud, thud” house anymore, but we have a staircase leading from their basement bedrooms to the living room.  When you come up those carpeted stairs, the “thud, thud” is muffled.

At one point on the day after Thanksgiving, I heard footsteps on the stairs leading from the basement.  Excitedly, I wondered if it was one of the boys who had actually gotten up earlier than expected. Nope, just one of the girls bringing up a basket of laundry.

I had to laugh at myself.  We have come full circle.  We are now back to the stage where we can’t wait for them to be awake, talking with us, interacting and communicating.  No longer do we look forward to our free time as much. 

We no longer mind hearing noise on the steps.

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