Frankie is almost 2.5 years old and still sleeps with us, which is actually something I’ll cover in another blog. However, it’s relevant to this particular post so it warranted mentioning.
We sleep in a platform bed. For clarity, that’s a bed frame with wooden slats upon which our mattress sits directly. There is no box spring which means the sleeping surface is probably a little below the height of the average beds sleeping surface. It’s also not extremely low, meaning that you wouldn’t want to roll off of it onto the floor. Unfortunately for my son, who likes to crawl around in his sleep, that’s exactly what happened. Fortunately for my son, he had crawled to the foot of the bed and rolled directly onto a chest, so his fall was probably around 18 inches, if that.
Now I’m a light sleeper, pretty much like a highly trained secret agent who might have to deal with an attacker at any moment. Should a burglar, serial killer, or any former cast member of Saved By The Bell invade my home in the night, they should expect to be dispatched quickly with lethal force.
So, when Frankie 4 rolled onto the chest with a thump, I was there before he even had time to cry out. I scooped him up into my arms and he let out barely a whimper, placing his head on my shoulder. I whispered over and over again, “It’s okay, daddy’s got you.” I laid down on the bed still holding him on top of me and he was already back asleep. He was fine, not even scared, and the entire incident was no big deal at all.
The next morning I worked out, as I do on a daily basis, to maintain my muscled physique, youthful appearance, and immense feelings of superiority over others, then went inside. Lisa had fulfilled her wifely duty of preparing breakfast for my son and I and he was already at the table. When I sat down to eat Lisa asked him, “What happened last night?”
Frankie replied, “I fell off the bed.”
She followed that with, “Then what happened?”
My son looked me directly in the eye and said, “Daddy saved me.”
I stared at him.
He said, “Daddy you saved me. You saved me daddy.”
My chin quivered, my eyes got watery, and then I started sobbing so hard that I couldn’t speak. Frankie just kept at it, “Daddy you saved me.” Every time he said it I sobbed harder. And I mean full on, loud, gut wrenching, tears gushing, couldn’t breathe sobbing. If you’d walked in at that moment you would have assumed that someone close to me had died.
Now let’s be clear, I am well aware that I didn’t “save” my son from anything. In fact, I didn’t even really have to console him. He fell a few inches and the impact was so mild that he didn’t even cry. Truth be told, I was just happy that it was a non incident and we got to go right back to sleep. If I am to credit myself with anything, it’s that I responded instantly when he fell. Maybe he was scared for a brief moment and my picking him up so quickly made him feel “saved”.
None of that mattered when he said, in that little boy voice, “Daddy you saved me.” Regardless of what had actually happened, he decided to string together some words that struck me right in my heart. My son causes me to experience intense bursts of emotion on a daily basis, often resulting in me becoming teary eyed. This was the first time, however, that I lost control and couldn’t stop crying. It got so bad that Frankie looked at me concerned and asked, “Daddy, you sad?” which only served to make things worse.
Although some people from my past might disagree, I’ve never considered myself an emotionally closed off guy. I’ve certainly held back my emotions in many circumstances but I’ve never been too “manly” to let myself feel or to express those feelings. What I had never done prior to Frankie being born was to allow myself to become fully vulnerable to my emotions, to immerse myself in them openly and fearlessly, and to express them without reservation for all the world to see. So rather than be embarrassed to share that I cried like a little wussy infant baby sissy over my son, I wear it like a badge of honor. I’m a man. I don’t cry when I’m sad, when I’m injured, or when I’m scared. I cry exclusively when I’m so overwhelmed with love that I can’t and don’t want to contain it.
After what seemed like an eternity of me trying to reign myself in I finally caught enough breath to squeeze out, “No buddy, I’m not sad.” Unfazed, my boy smiled and said, “Daddy, you happy?”.
All I could say through the tears was, “Yeah, daddy’s happy. Daddy’s happy.”
Originally published at http://badassdad.com on August 7, 2017.