Thursday, March 01, 2007

A small moment with a small person

The alarm rang at an unholy early hour. I had to catch an early train to Toronto, about a two-hour trip away. I was scheduled to be interviewed by a news crew from a national television newscast, and I didn’t want to be late. I was nervous for the day, concerned that I’d forget to take something, worried that I wouldn’t deliver the goods. With the weight of the big bad world pressing on my still-foggy mind, I slowly tiptoed through the darkness, getting my things together, getting my head together, and trying to avoid waking anybody up.

Fat chance. Before long, I heard the telltale pitter-patter of a certain six-year-old boy. Resplendent in his one-piece jammies and bright yellow slippers, he popped his smiling head into the bathroom as I got ready to shave. He walked over to me and hugged me in that all-you-can-squeeze way that only a child seems to be willing to muster. “Big hug, Daddy,” he said in that sweet, sleepy little voice of his. It didn’t seem to matter that it was well over an hour before he usually wakes up. It didn’t bother him that the sky outside was dark, and that we were the only two people awake in the house. He was about to get to watch his daddy shave, and he was happy.

As I carefully worked the razor around my face, he sat beside me and played 20 questions:
  • How does shaving work? Why do you have to do it all the time?
  • How old will I be when I start to shave? Let’s count how many years, OK Dad?
  • Why does your hair always make a mess in the sink?
  • Is your face smooth yet? Can I feel?
  • Do you like to shave?
That last question gave me pause. Frankly, I hate shaving. It’s one of those necessities of modern life that I wish I could avoid.

But this morning’s ritual was much different. I enjoyed having a genuinely likable little person keep me company. I enjoyed hearing his voice. I enjoyed sharing a moment that I wish didn’t have to be so fleeting. I enjoyed him. I enjoyed us being…us.

I finished shaving and let him feel my face. Yup, it was smooth. Yes, Daddy was ready to go to Toronto and have a good day. My wife whispered to me as I finished getting ready how much she loved hearing us. Sometimes, life really is that good.

I write this on the train as it works its way through the wintry hinterland of southern Ontario. I’m coming back home after an eventful day. The big interview went really well. Then the phone rang. Twice. I spoke to the Associated Press. I did a live television interview in-studio. Different venues, different commentary on different, fast-breaking subjects, and I fought my way through a blizzard to make it happen.

If you ever saw the scene in Jerry Maguire where the title character says they had a “very big day,” my day today reminded me of that. On a professional level, it was an eventful day that convinced me more than ever that this crazy work/media life of mine is starting to pay serious dividends. That’s all well and good, but what will stick in my mind far longer is the sleepy, sweet voice of my son as we softly chatted in the dim, pre-dawn light. Because everything that came after that magic moment with him happened because he was there with me at the very start, and in spirit for every moment thereafter.

He’s asleep now, along with his older brother and sister, so I’ll have to content myself with quick kisses on their heads when I finally get home. But I’ll be up early tomorrow, and maybe I’ll be lucky enough to have some help and some company.

Your turn: A little moment that mattered. Please discuss.

46 comments:

A Woman Changed said...

Your story brought back memories of when I used to watch my dad get ready in the morning too. Dad shaved every day, and I remember watching him mix powdered toothpaste and water in the palm of his hand. I bet your little guy remembers those moments forever. So sweet. And congrats on your Big Day. Well-deserved to be sure.

talj said...

A truly beautiful post today Carmi. The way you write with such love and fondness in your words is very touching. What a wonderful thing the special moments, the ones that occur totally out of the blue, can mean.

It sounds like you have had a busy yet rewarding day at work and your Jerry Macguire reference made me smile, I love that film! :o)

I hope your friday holds many more special moments and that you enjoy your weekend x

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I was thinking as I read what you said about disliking shaving but how it was so different with your dear son sharing it with you...Perhaps you should make that a daily ritual....he sure sounds like he enjoyed it, and since it changed completly how you feel about shaving----well, there is your answer to making shaving much happier experience, every day! Such a sweet story Carmi....! I would love to see a picture of you and your little son shaving together...!

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Ooops! Forgot to say Michele sent me tonight.

caramaena said...

Sweet post :)

Heh, my small person gets up when he hears me as well. Aside from the lovely cuddles I get, he's more tired than anything. I can't convince him to go back to bed though - if I'm up then he *has* to be up also.

Unfortunately, come weekends he'll get up at the usual time and then come and ask me why I'm not up too!

michelle said...

That is such a wonderful story and the Jerry McGuire reference really nailed it on the head. It's amazing that you can have such an incredible day, but it can not mean as much without the ones you love the most being a part of your day. I work nights and 3 days a week I see my 7 year old for 1 1/2 hrs a day. Your story makes me want to enjoy those little moments - like eating oatmeal- even more. thanks for sharing

Mr. Althouse said...

And THAT, my friend, IS what life is all about. Nothing less, nothing more. I remember nearly identical moments when I was about your son's age and my dad would be shaving, getting ready for work. Perhaps those curious questions are some kind of cosmic re-run, on an endless loop as it were - replaying generation after generation.

I have been marveling at just how well behaved my life has been lately. And the upside potential? There is a lot of headroom. But there are those constants that remind me in those precious little moments that it just doesn't get any better.

One of my fraternity brothers from my first foray into college back in the early eighties died the other day. I haven't seen him in more than 25 years, but the emails that started as a trickle have become a flood. He lived a good life, a life that is being reminisced by friends new and old and from days gone by. He was a good man. He died of heart failure peacefully in his sleep. He was 45.

There are no guarantees.

Mike

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

that made me smile - those big hugs that you want to go on forever - those I love you to the moon and back speeches....i try and savour every one my 4 year old soon to be samuel gives me

beautiful story....

Matt said...

I want that.

I like your posts.

So far, I've always played the six-year-old part. I wish you many more moments as great as this one.

Frankie said...

When I was a wee tyke my Uncle would tease me with the whole "I got your nose" game. Annoyed the hell out of me. Later in his life, the dentures coming out of his mouth would make me laugh, and he knew it and used it often.

Years went by and by the time I became a young adult he was hospitalized with cancer. I went to visit him, and only recognized him by the sight of his icy blue eyes. He was on so much pain medication that I was surprised he could muster a smile, let alone a reaction at all. He did smile, and we said goodbye.

I miss him sometimes.

Frankie said...

PS: I so didn't mean to bring the room down with this story. It makes me smile when I think of him, honest! :)

Anna said...

What a wonderful story Carmi.

It made me think of when our babies were first born. My husband used to travel a lot. Early in the am he would bring our baby into the middle of the bed with us. We would talk and laugh while looking at this amazing child....thinking...this little person is ours...we are grown up now! CRAZY.

Anyway...those are cherished moments for me. Every now and then the kids still come in and lay in between us and hang out....I LOVE IT!

It will be something I will cherish forever.

I will be waiting for some sort of shaving pic soon from you! I am so glad that your day went well and was fruitful. I love that in the midst of all that was going on career wise....you were blessed with this serene moment with your son. It probably calmed you down and focused you way more than you think!

BTW, my blinds pic is up....along with your link!

~Take care Carmi.

CG said...

I had tears in my eyes reading this! Those childhood moments can be so fleeting and very precious.

The other day, when an angry man trampled my self confidence in the mud by calling me ugly, my youngest daughter said with such sincerity "oh but you looked lovely today, Mummy". I will never forget that.

I have a friend who has a way of creating special moments out of nothing and memories that I will always treasure - Thanks, T xxx

Ash said...

Beautiful post Carmi!

mar said...

What a beautiful post! I am so glad Michele sent me over to read it!
I gave up an executive "career" to be at home with our only son. I think people who cannot understand how I could do it are the ones who do not appreciate the enorm value of precious, once-in-a-lifetime moments with our dear little ones.

grant said...

Congrats Carmi.
What exactlly are they saying?
So, have you "made it big" now mate?

Michele didn't send me.

Linda said...

A little moment that mattered? Just read my blog entry for today. My son's birth, which was almost both our deaths. It mattered.

Your conversation with your son is one that I hope is repeated with my son and his dad someday.

ChaCha said...

Carmi you made me cry. What a wonderful dad you are when others tell their kids to get the hell out of the bathroom, or go back to sleep, you take the time to explain to him. Your children are very lucky you put them first. Gotta go find a kleenex

Bob-kat said...

That is a lovely post and sounds like it was a red letter day for you in more than one way. I cna remember watching my dad shave when I was a kid. I loved sharing these moments with him but I'm sure I drove him mad with those questions!

Michele sent me to say congratulations on the big interview :-)

Rebecca said...

The little moments that stick with me are the times I am taking a walk with my daughter and she throws her head back and laughs then looks at me with smiling eyes and waits for me to say something else funny.

chase said...

What a beautiful post. Makes me want to be a daddy someday which I am quite itching to be one to be honest. Anyway hope you have a wonderful weekend with your family!

Anyway from Michele here!

Becky68 said...

Hi Carmi, I have those little moments a lot with my kids, last night, listenting to my 7 year old son read a doctor Seuss book to me in practice for reading it to his class today was like that. His 10 year old sister came into the room & instead of jumping on the bed & making a bunch of noise she sat down & respectfuly listened to him read.
Thanks for stopping by my blog.

rosemary said...

Lovely. Children throughout time...somethings stay the same. I used to get up at 4am to get ready for another day at the hospital....my youngest son would always, always tell me good bye..always. thank you Carmi.

Surcie said...

So sweet, Carmi. I love it when you write about fatherhood.

Terri said...

Such a poignant post. You brought the emotion of those moments right here to us with your words.
I have many of these moments tucked away. Both when I was a child and many with my grandchildren. Children are so "real" and you proved how very simple moments spent with them make for extraordinary slices of time.

Carolyn said...

Great story, Carmi! Smoothly told too. It's so nice when life shaves off a little piece of happiness and delivers it so personally :)

Here from Michele's

picperfic said...

I used to watch my Dad shave, I love the way his pure bristle shaving brush sort of slopped about in the soap and made loads of thick rich suds which he wriggled all over his face. Then the noise of the razor on his bristles, it was sort of soothing to hear...then he slapped on the aftershave and he always smelt beautiful. The best bit was when he gave me his empty bottle of Imperial Leather Aftershave Lotion which always has a few drops left in it for me to play with. i loved the way it went cloudy when i added a bit of water to my potion, I must have been about 6 years old.....I forgot that stuff, well I forgot it until two years ago when I came to live with my new man and he wet shaves and it soothes me again...don't know why. I didn't have that memory for the 30 years I was married. You brought a lump to my throat with those wonderful words, not many special Daddies out there you know, but you're definitely one of them. I came here from CG's blog and I'm so glad I did. Thank you Marianne

colleen said...

I think the thing I miss most about my sons not being little boys anymore is their sweet voices. Sometime I hear them in dreams and it's better than a hot romance dream!

Jean-Luc Picard said...

That's the sort of memory that will always stick out for both the father and son.

Michele sent me here.

srp said...

In the final scheme of things, it will be these small moments that both you and your family will remember above everything else. One of my fondest memories is that drive to and from school with Raffi playing and both Nyssa and I singing..... Apples and Bananas and her giggling at the silliness.

Peri said...

wow - these are the moments to treasure! :)

carli said...

Nice story. Little kids are so freaking adorable. It reminds me of the line from American Beauty (a movie I don't particularly care for), when Wes Bentley (what happene to him?) says, "Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world I feel like I can't take it." When Panda Bear (four-year-old niece) takes my hand or cuddles up on the couch with me or asks me to sing her a song from a musical, it gives me a reason to stick around.

rashbre said...

Important to have the balance that your post describes. And so difficult to keep it in a fast modern world.

Like the littlle family games and sayings, too, that get passed from generation to generation.

Here, this time, via Michele; Greetings!

rashbre

Shephard said...

Very nice read.
Definitely a moment that mattered.
Michele says hello. :)
~S

bluemountainmama said...

want a wonderful moment you had this morning with your son.....and you expressed it so endearingly. that is what life IS to me.... all these little moments... something small, but really BIG....snuggling with my son in the mornings with my coffee and cartoons, his head resting on my shoulder....or even something as simple as a friendly smile from a stranger...or hearing an incredibly moving song. we tend to live for the BIG events, but i believe we'd be much happier if we cherished the small ones. thanks for the smile!

kenju said...

Carmi, I have no doubt that one of his favorite memories when he is older will be the times he "shaved" with Daddy. It is one of my favorite memories of my dad, and the time he let me lather up my face and I accidentally shaved off half my eyebrow. The little moments in our lives add up to greatness when we stop to reflect on them.

Michele sent me this time.

Lori Schmidt (LoriProPhoto) said...

Carmi what a beautiful story. You are blessed to have such a succesful career and loving family to support you. I can only wish you all the best in the future, you are a special person and I love the way that you can put things into words so eloquently that they move the people who read them and touch their hearts too.

Lori

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Congrats on the work paying off -- can you send some of that good karma my way please?

As for your son... I love those moments. They're what makes all the frustration and aggravation and everything else so worth parenting.

Good for you that you know what's the most important thing.

I'm gonna go kiss my own kids now...

scrappintwinmom said...

I loved this post. First off, congrats on your big, busy day - it is well deserved. Second, I get little moments like that all the time..I suppose I'm lucky. But my girls are still small and sweet, and I savor those little moments, because before I know it they'll be too cool to hang out with me. Just the other day Dr. D. put her hands on my face, looked directly into my eyes, and said, "Hi..." Then she began naming the parts of my face - eyes, nose, ears...all the while touching each part gently with her tiny baby hands. My heart literally came out of my chest and flew away. Here on my own, though I'm sure Michele would want me to tell you hi from her anyway.

Melody said...

Every day. Every day it seems as if Monet and I have a little chatter which seems hugely important to her. ANd to me. Out of the wrods of babes - she does make me laugh. What a great post Carmi. YOur son seems very loveable. Of course!

PI said...

My geography is all to pot. Now I think you live in Canada? I think your oasis of time with your son would make it inevitable that you would deal with anything that came your way that day.
I used to have a little corgi and because my husband was away had to take her with me to London for three seperate auditions. I got them all but always gave the credit to Havoc- my little dog.

PI said...

Sorry I forgot - Michele sent me! Tut tut!

Leah said...

Such a special moment worth sharing. I can just imagine his enthusiasm. And definitely a great way to start the day.

Its wonderful how even the dreariest weather would not dampen a BIG day.

Rainbow dreams said...

what a beautiful moment, thanks for sharing it - I love, no I absolutely adore listening to my children and my husband, their chatter and their laughter - very special ~ am just catching up, Katie

Beverly said...

Hello, Carmi
Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. I have been lurking here for quite some time, every since I found Melange and started checking out sites in her sidebar.

I love reading your posts about your children, and this one was especially dear. I am an only child. My mother and daddy lost a child before and after me, and I certainly was daddy's little girl. My daddy had a mug with a cake of soap in it that he would lather up with his brush before shaving. I can remember watching him. I've often wished that I had that cup and brush. It's something that has stayed in my memories even though he died in 1964.

I can still feel him rubbing his whiskers against my cheek.

kristin said...

Thank you for that extremely poignant, touching and REAL story...and for the warmth, sincerity and insight with which you re-tell it. God bless you for recognizing the opportunity to share something so simple, but so profound, with your little one. He'll be shaving before you know it... grown up and all "independent". Cherish this time, every moment that you can. And may we ALL be more observant and aware of such magical, everyday moments in our own lives... to be cherished for the precious gifts that they are.