Me: "So did you meet our new neighbors?"
Ben: "Yeah, they're okay."
Me: "I thought So-n-so seemed like a pretty cool guy."
Ben grunts: "He's okay..."
Me (giving Ben the raised eyebrow): "What does that mean? Was he rude to you?"
Ben: "No, he's just into sports and I'm not. We didn't bond."
Or a few weeks ago we had this one about some other new neighbors:
Me: "I really enjoyed meeting the Such-n-suches, how about you?"
Ben: "Yeah, they are totally awesome!"
Me: "So you liked the man of the house, huh?"
Ben: "Oh yeah, we bonded over 'Phineas and Ferb.'" Really? Are you serious? And he said it like now they buddies... and they are!
Men are so weird! We love them, and they make us laugh... but they are so strange sometimes.
For years now I have been trying to get Ben to feel closer to our boys. He has never really had some serious bonding with them because he has missed so much being in Army or working and going to school full time. It seems like they are always butting heads either over misunderstandings or what channel to watch on TV. It has really bothered me hearing the three of them arguing all the time like a bunch of babies, Ben being the biggest one of all. You should see the tantrum he throws when I make him let the boys have a turn with the remote.
Then we had a little miracle these last few weeks. I think Ben was really just waiting to have something in common with the boys.
A few weeks ago, Ben was outside with the boys watching them play. There was another family out riding their bikes and the little girl was riding a Barbie bike with no training wheels. Sam watched her with interest until she got off her bike, then he made this mad dash to it, hopped on and took off! He was riding a two wheeler like it was nothing special. So Ben, happy and proud dad, took off the training wheels of Sam's own bike and we watched him take off like he had been doing it all his life. It was so strange to see such a little guy riding a two-wheeler.
Of course, Nephi wanted his off too, but when Ben took them off his bike to try them out, he couldn't keep his balance so they went right back on... he was only 3 years old after all. But now that he is 4, and has had time studying Ben and Sam riding around, he asked Ben last night if he would take the training wheels off again. Ben was reluctant because it had only been like 3 weeks since the last disaster of a try. But Nephi kept nagging and nagging until he relented.
Ben was still putting his tools away when he heard this whoosh and "I'M DOING IT!" He looked up just as Nephi zipped by on his two wheels.
I don't think I have ever seen Ben so proud to be a dad.
I was happy because Ben and the boys were gone most of the day riding around campus and I got some peace and quiet. They were all so tired last night, they all crashed on the couch and watch cartoons until they fell asleep.
Finally, some daddy-son bonding.
Now the only fighting I hear is arguing about helmets... Go figure.