The older Westley gets, the more I notice his relationship with Rob growing into something really special. It's obvious that these guys are crazy about each other. They already have special games they play together, and there are songs that only Daddy sings. They call each other "buddy" and give high-fives. They may or may not be working on a secret handshake.
While there may not be a "No Girls [backwards R] Allowed" sign on the playroom door, I'm feeling kind of left out. And more than a little jealous. In fact, despite what I recently told Westley about boys and girls, I've decided that the next time around, I want to be the dad.
I tend to think of my time with Westley in terms of work. It's not entirely unpleasant work, but most often, I experience caring for my son as "doing my job." However, when I watch Rob with Westley, I immediately think, "That looks like fun."
A few nights ago, I was putting away dinner dishes and looked out the sliding glass door to see Rob and Westley chasing each other around the yard, laughing hysterically. It looked like a game of hide-and-seek that had been modified to involve more happy shrieking and less actual hiding. Something that (apparently) they had just invented. I felt mildly envious, and a touch sad: I never think of anything cool like that.
Being a dad looks like it's awesome. Rob seems to have so much energy to devote to Westley. Even when Rob's been sick, or has had a bad night, or has put in lots of overtime, he always has ideas for games. And when he's even moderately rested, he's truly up for anything. Throw Westley up in the air over and over again? Awesome. Play outside in the freezing cold? You bet! Read the entire 368-page "George and Martha" collection in one sitting? Of course!
So it's no surprise that Westley adores his dad, really. Whenever Rob has something to do around the house, whether it's a gluten-free baking project or a trip to the bathroom, Westley is all, "Ah munna help you, Da-dee!" Last night at bedtime, I tried to read Westley My Mommy, a book I discovered we owned while cleaning out the playroom. Just a few lines in, Westley said, "Read My Daddy!" I knew it was silly to be offended, but it still stung (though admittedly, Westley's choice is the better of the two books, by far).
Westley still cries for Mommy. Always. If he falls down, or gets his heart broken, it's me alone that he wants to snuggle, me that he needs to kiss the hurt away. But for just about everything else? Daddy is it!
While I do not-so-secretly wish that my relationship with Westley were more like Rob's, ultimately my envy is overshadowed by gratitude. I am so thankful that Westley has a father he can feel so close to (because I know too well that not everyone does). Furthermore, I feel ridiculously fortunate to have a partner who takes so seriously his parenting role.
One thing I truly admire about Rob is that, when Westley was born, he made a commitment to be a Good Father. I don't think he had a clear image of what a Good Father might look like (apart from "don't break the baby, dude!"), but he went for it anyway. He worked at it. Every day, Rob chooses to enjoy the time he has with his little boy. Why wouldn't Westley have crazy-huge affection for a Daddy like that?
(Still, I'm totally going to see if Westley and I can come up with a secret handshake before Rob gets to it.)