I carried him in my arms, pointing at the framed Ikea reprint on the wall above the sofa, and I felt a smile spread across my face at his spot-on imitation of what I said.
"You heard that, Mommy? He said 'picture'. So clearly too."
Mommy looked up from the sofa at the two of us standing in front of her, and smiled weakly in approval.
I put Isaac down, and he ran off in his penguin waddle, to play with his "police car" Push and Ride walker. Celia used a rubber band to keep the seat of the "police car" open because for some reason, Isaac likes the seat to be open, revealing the storage compartment beneath. It made the car impossible to sit on and to ride, but that's the way he liked it.
I sank into the sofa, next to Faith again. I hadn't even taken my bath. But Faith was cranky since Wednesday, crying and fussing, wanting to be carried. We suspect that she misses her Grandma, who is in Europe with my youngest brother for two weeks. And Faith, who could not articulate her unhappiness in words, because of her autism, could only wail.
The last few nights have been late nights for me with a lot of important things to do, and the kids were in bed fairly early because of their coughs and colds. I only caught them in the mornings before going to work.
When I came home with the wife earlier in the evening, Faith was crying and Celia was trying to get her to finish her last mouthful of dinner. She climbed down from the sofa when she saw me, wanting to be carried. She still had food in her mouth. I carried her back to the sofa and told her everything was all right, and Papa would play with her after eating his own dinner.
She seemed to understand that. I am never 100% sure, but in any case, I went for a quick dinner with the wife in the kitchen. Isaac stood at the glass kitchen door, like a puppy wanting to come in. We had to do this lately because he would keep asking for our food if we let him in (Grandma's fault, this). He was pressing his face against the glass and distorting his face and lips. That made us laugh. The glass had smudges from his licking. We smiled and waved at him as we ate, and returned to the living room when we were done.
After dinner, for the next hour or so, Faith and I just sat there, on the sofa, doing nothing. The TV was on, playing MTV, but we were not really watching it. Our time was uninterrupted except for the few minutes I spent picking Isaac up to teach him how to say "pik-cher".
The wife shook her head in disbelief, and said, "Look at her, so quiet so quickly, right after she sat next to you." She sighed, "I think she doesn't do that with me because of my nervous energy lately."
And so we sat, father and daughter, mostly in silence. There wasn't any need to talk much. Occasionally, she would lean over for me to nuzzle her neck, which she likes very much, and it made her giggle. She ran her arm along the stubble on my chin too, enjoying the prickly sensation. She smiled a lot more too. Once in a while, she would pull herself up so that she could sit deeper in the sofa and closer to me.
Then it was bedtime, which I think the two of us felt, came too soon.
Doing nothing on a Thursday night can be the most important thing you do.