It’s happened to many of us before, I’m sure. I was supposed to be a tender moment, and I scared my son. It was the middle of the night and he was asleep. He’d been fidgety all night, having dreams, talking in his sleep, and tossing and turning. At one point it sounded like he might have been awake so I got out of bed and went to his room to see what was up.
He appeared to be sound asleep. If he had awakened, he was already back in dreamland. Or maybe he never woke up and it only sounded that way. I went over and stood by his bed for a while just watching him, gently adjusted his sheet and blanket, then stood a bit longer to see if he would stir. Nothing. He was out, and for the moment quiet and still. So cute and peaceful.
It was time to head back to bed myself so I slowly knelt down on his bed and leaned over to give him a gentle kiss. This is nothing out of the ordinary. Every night before I go to bed, I walk back to his room to check on him. I always give him a kiss and whisper in his ear that I love him, I’m proud he’s my son and I’m proud to be his dad. This was no different other than it was in the middle of the night. As I leaned down, just a foot or so from his face, he opened his eyes, saw me and screamed. I felt horrible!
As quick as he was scared by the presence of someone so close to him, he realized it was just me. I had also moved my face back from his a bit and said, “it’s okay buddy, it’s just me.” Recognition set in immediately and I moved back in, now to comfort and hug and hold him. He latched on, and out of breath, quietly said, “dad, you scared me.”
“I know, son. I’m so sorry. I just came in to check on you. I didn’t mean to scare you.”
Catching his breath, “I know, dad.”
“I really love you, son. Please don’t be scared. I’ll always protect you. I never want to scare you.”
“I love you too, dad.” And he held me tighter.
He quieted back down, faster than I would have thought possible after scaring him so bad. Within a few minutes he was back to sleep. I re-adjusted his sheets, gave him the kiss I had intended to give him at first, and whispered my usual affirmation of love to him in his ear. As I started to move away and off of his bed, on the cusp of sleep he whispered back, “I love you too dad. I’m proud to be your son.”
That young and amazing boy broke my heart twice in just five minutes. First because I felt so bad that I had scared him, knowing there was no way to undue that moment. Then, with his sweet words of love back to me. I left his room knowing the last thing on his mind as he went back to his world of dreams was my love for him.
It’s great to be a dad!