Something was on Tucker's mind, but I couldn't put my finger on it. I had just come home from four days away, and he had not quite found himself again in our routine. Things weren't right. And he sure seemed angry: at me.
"Mommy, after my nap, I'm going to shoot you."
"Mommy, I hope you get smashed by cars."
I sternly reminded him that he couldn't say those things to anyone, least of all me. I put him to bed without a story, I told him he hurt my heart, and I asked him to be kind the next day. But the next day brought more of the same. Threats of violence, and not a whole lot of warm fuzzies.
I could have flown off the handle and punished his little spirit for being so very mean (and there was some of that, for sure), but something within me knew that it was bigger than an angry will.
When he woke up from his nap, in that small window of still snuggles, I said, "Tuck, do you remember when I went away on my trip?"
"Did it make you sad when I left?"
Bingo. He wasn't sure why I left, if I would come back, when I would leave again, and what would happen to him if his life turned irrevocably upside down.
Sweet, sweet boy.
So, we scheduled a date night. Mommy and Tucker. Just us. An instant spirit booster. Mutually.
A date with me comes with special privileges. You get to choose the restaurant, you can choose the songs in the car, and you can choose the volume of those chosen songs. (Makes you want to sign up, I know.) Tucker chose Chick fil A, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and loud. You got it, buddy.
We ordered our meals, and I stepped around the corner to get some extra napkins. Suddenly, Tuck realized he had lost sight of me. "Mommy? Mommy! Where are you?! You LOST ME!"
Stop everything, little man. Even before we unwrapped our sandwiches, I knew we needed to hit this topic head on. I settled in beside him, with no room for distractions.
"Tucker, I didn't lose you. I will never lose you. I went away to see our friends in Arkansas, but I came back. I will always come back. Do you know that?"
"And I missed you every single day."
"Everyday. And I'm home now, and I'm not going anywhere."
"Not just for a little while, Mommy? For a big while?"
"Yes. For a big while. I'm here, kiddo."
He smiled. "Okay. Then tell me all about Arkansas."
"Okay. Well, first I drove for a really, really long time..." I gave him a play by play, and his face lit up as I mentioned the people he knows and misses. He wanted to hear it all, now that he knew I was home to stay.
I can do that, Tuck.
We finished our evening with some silly pictures of each other, since it seemed like a good night for a new privilege: working Mommy's camera.
And finally, I introduced him to his very first milkshake. Vanilla. With a cherry. (The first girl in his heart should be the one to give him his first milkshake. That's just how it should be.)
"Mommy, this is the best date ever."
I think we're friends again.