Yesterday, my 5-year old asked if we could go to the pool.
"Sure, of course," I said, so we went, just the two of us.
No one else was at the pool when we got there, so we had it all to ourselves. I put on his little life vest floaty and the plan was to have him play with his water gun on the steps while I laid out for a few minutes.
"Five minutes, okay buddy?" I say.
"No, one or two minutes," he says, and I realize I'm being a jerk so I just get in the water with him.
My son can't swim yet so he wants to hang on to my shoulders while I take him around the pool. As he kicks his feet in the water he says he's the motor and I'm the boat. We're almost done with our first lap when I suddenly hear him freak out behind me.
"A bee, daddy! A bee!" he starts yelling.
I turn and see the bee in the water so I splash at it until I can see it start to drift away.
"No, daddy, let's go get it out of the water," my son says, so I take us to the other side of the pool.
With one hand I hold onto the wall, and with the other I hold onto my son. The two of us form a human chain as he reaches for the bee with his long water gun. I watch as he carefully lifts the gun out of the water with the bee sitting on the handle. Then he hands it to me and I gently place the toy on the concrete.
We hang there and stare at the bee as it walks back and forth across the plastic, flapping its wings trying to dry them, until it eventually flies away.
"Wow, that was cool," my son says.
At this point I'm thinking that was fun, but now it's over, when my son sees another bee in the water.
"Daddy, we're the pool bug hunters, okay? We have to catch every bug in the pool!"
So we spend the next twenty minutes rescuing or tossing out all the bugs in the pool, mostly bees.
When we're finally finished the two of us sit on the ledge with our feet dangling in the water. I look out and the pool is perfectly blue. I can't help but feel the two of us have accomplished something together. Then my son points and says, "Daddy, that leaf blowed into the water."
I look and see a brown leaf floating on the water's surface. I hop back in and wade over to get it out, while saying to my son, "You mean it blew into the water?"
"Yeah, that leaf blew into the water," he says, stressing the correct word. Then he says, "Blue! Like the color of my water gun!"
"No," I say, wading back towards him. "It sounds the same but it's not the same word. They're spelled differently. One is blue like the color ..."
"And the other is blew like the wind," he says, finishing my sentence.
Later that night, my wife is giving him a bath while I'm watching his little brother when I overhear him ask her something.
"Mommy, do you love me or Drew more?" And then after a beat, "Or daddy?"
"I love my whole family baby. All of you," she says.
"Of course daddy," she says. "Why would you ask that?"
At this point I go to the bathroom wondering what's going on. I look and my wife is drying my son with a towel, kneeling in front of him.
My wife asks again, "David, why would you ask if I love daddy. You know I do, silly."
But instead of laughing like usual, my son looks up at me for a second before looking back at my wife and says, "Because ... yesterday ... when we were playing ... daddy said he's going to find another family without us."
He barely gets the words out because he's full on crying. My wife hugs him and he buries his face in her shoulder. That's when I remember what I'd said the day before. I'd been joking, and I thought it was clear I'd been joking, but he had actually believed it.
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