Hi guys, have finally updated after a few chaotic months of best friend visiting, thyroid playing up and needing to go back on medication, only remaining grandparent (my grandmother, ironically enough, after one of my more recent chapters) passing away and major problems sorting out my job seekers' allowance and having to start from scratch. Lots of ideas buzzing around for this and my other/new stories but due to grief and stress, was not able to formulate them into words.
People have requested more Kirsten-Seth time, so I've sent Sandy away on business for once. Hope you enjoy this instalment and please comment!
"Ok, bye Setheleh, look after Mommy for me. I'll see you Tuesday night, I should be home before your bedtime. Be good, have fun and remember what you promised." Sandy declared, giving his seven-year-old son a kiss on the cheek and a big hug before departing for Berkeley, where he had to spend four days representing a client in court. Seth squeezed him extra hard and clung to him like a limpet. He'd been devastated to hear his dad had to be away during the Easter vacation, and Sandy had not been best pleased at the sudden rescheduling of the date of the court case either, but it unfortunately had to be done, a teenager's future was on the line here.
"Yes Daddy, I remember! I musn't let Mommy try to cook, we've got to have take out every night! Do you have to go, Daddeleh?" Seth replied, his grip on his father's neck tightening.
"Yes, Setheleh, I have to, but I'll be back soon, I promise. You'll have so much fun with Mommy, you'll see" he explained as he finally managed to extricate himself from his small son's grip, deposited him on the floor and turned to kiss his wife. She put her arms round his middle and they held eachother in a tender embrace, then kissed as passionately as they dared in front of their son, who complained of tummy aches whenever they got too steamy in his presence.
Sandy picked up his bag and made his way out to the car. Seth and Kirsten followed him out and stood on the porch to wave him off. He put his case in the trunk, locked it and then got into the driver's seat of the BMW. He turned the key in the ignition, blew Kirsten a kiss and waved at his son as he pulled out of the drive. Both his wife and son waved back at him, and as he reached the gate, he glanced back and saw Seth's face crumple, his bottom lip sucked in as it usually was when he was upset or worried and noticed Kirsten crouch down by him and then hug him. She'd be reassuring him with the promise of lots of exciting adventures to the beach, the movies and a trip to the comic book store and the ice cream parlour in particular, he surmised.
It would be good for them to hang out together, Sandy mused, as it wasn't something they often did. Sure, they'd hang out together as a family, but Kirsten was often busy with work or away on business, so Seth's usual choice of playmate and confidante was him. As flattering as it was to be your son's hero, it could be exhausting sometimes. It also made him seem like the 'good cop' parent, the one who was fun, entertaining and cool, which left Kirsten the unpopular role of nagger, teller-off and doing all the generally more unpleasant parts of parenting. Kirsten would never voice this, he knew, but he guessed that sometimes she felt excluded from their random ramblings, their special sense of humour that only they seemed to share and their teasing her, albeit affectionately, probably didn't help matters much. Lots of people often failed to see that Seth had inherited both physical and behavioral traits from his mother, they usually said he looked like they'd imagine Sandy would have at that age, which was of course highly flattering again, but not exactly helpful. Some people even had the gall to ask if Kirsten was related to either of them! Sandy knew his son adored his mother, but at heart he was still very much a daddy's boy. Hopefully these few days would help redress the balance, that Seth would see his mother as fun-loving, entertaining and just plain wonderful.
"Wow, Mommy, that was an awesome movie, but the crocodiles who chased after the ballet dancing hippos were scary, weren't they? And Mickey isn't a very good magician, is he? It was cool to get the brooms to do his work though, can I get a magic broom to do my chores for me please? I liked the horses with wings who played in the water, the little black one reminded me of me, especially when he splashed the daddy horse with water, it was just like when I poured that bucket of water over Daddy when we were at the beach, and he pretended to be mad and ran after me and tickled me and threw me in the water and I got all dirty with sand and seaweed. It was ucky! Is Daddy coming home soon?" Seth gabbled, clutching his mother's hand tightly as they made their way out of the movie theatre where they'd just watched Fantasia.
"It was a fun movie, wasn't it sweetie, I really enjoyed it. Daddy should be home tonight in time for your bedtime, he said he might be able to get an earlier flight but I'll tell him to come in and give you your goodnight kiss if he is late, OK?" she replied, knowing Seth would be thrilled to see his dad before he went to sleep. She'd really enjoyed these few days with her little boy, her baby who was growing up so fast, it was lovely to spend some one-on-one time with him, something she resolved to have more of in the future. She also thought he was quieter, more controlled and focused with her, whereas he was louder, more excitable and impulsive when he was with Sandy. It was as if he had a chameleon-like personality that took on the best qualities of whichever parent he was with.
"Yay! Daddy's coming home tonight, home tonight, home tonight, yippahdeedoodah, yippahdeeday! Hip hip hurrah!" Seth chanted ecstatically, completely untunefully and unembarrassed. He even did a quick victory dance, which amused a great number of passers-by and caused Kirsten to have second thoughts about her theory of her son adapting his character depending on whether he was with her or Sandy. There was definitely more of Sandy's personality in her son than she thought.
She and Seth had filled their Sandy-free days with lots of fun activities: they'd been to the zoo where they'd spent ages at the monkey cage, making faces at the creatures that imitated their silly expressions, Seth had marvelled at the clumsiness of the penguins as they waddled on the ice but became so graceful as they flew underwater, they'd told their silliest jokes to the hyenas who laughed at them all and they'd thought up of their own strange animals and what they'd call them, like if someone crossed a monkey and a gorilla, would it be called a gonkey or a morilla?; they'd spent a day on the beach making sandcastles of various shapes and sizes, they'd paddled and swum, eaten fries, ice creams aplenty and played ball to help Seth improve his co-ordination; the previous day had been wet so they'd stayed in, written a story together that they'd illustrated and Seth had decided to draw a welcome home picture for his dad, depicting all the tings he liked best, like surfing, bagels schmeared in lots of cream cheese, barbecuing and hanging out with him and Mommy. He'd been lovely towards her, he'd showered her with cuddles and kisses, had told her some of his big secrets and asked her to help him explore a wardrobe in the house, as if he discovered a new land in the back of one of them, he'd need his Mommy to look after him, it would be too scary to go alone. Today they'd been to the movies, which Kirsten had hoped would exhaust Seth as he usually ran around the house screaming excitedly whenever he was told that's where they were headed. However, the only person who was tired was her. She'd underestimated Seth's bounciness and enthusiasm by a lot and marvelled at how Sandy coped with him when she was away on business, which was often for a whole week. She was absolutely tired out, but in the best possible way, just like she'd been when Seth was born and she'd survived on odd hours of sleep snatched between her turn at feeding him or changing his diaper.
"Mommy, how much longer 'til Daddy comes home? You promised he'd be home by bedtime and we've just had dinner so it must be soon... But I really want to show Daddy my picture that I drew for him and I want to tell him about all the fun stuff we did together, Mommy..." Seth whined, obviously getting impatient with the delays that went with travelling by anything other than teleporting.
"I didn't promise anything, sweetie. Daddy should be home in an hour or so, but sometimes planes are late and there's nothing you or me or Daddy or anyone can do about that, but he'll phone if he's going to be delayed, I'm sure, and you can speak to him then, OK? Now let's get you in the bath, 'cause Daddy won't want to give you a kiss if you're all dirty, will he?" Kirsten explained as she put the dishes and cutlery they'd used over ther dinner of Chinese take out into the dishwasher.
"But I want Da-ddy to give me my bath" Seth complained, drawing out the 'Daddy' to ten times its original length, to emphasize its importance.
"Seth.Tub.Now" Kirsten ordered in a tone that left no room for arguments. A sullen and subdued Seth hopped down from his chair and followed her upstairs, glowering at her when she had her back to him. His mood lifted when she let him pour in some special bubblebath that turned the water bright green and created lots of bubbles. She also let him play for longer than usual before she started washing him which also helped improve his humour. He was still quieter than usual, but she put that down to Daddy withdrawal symptoms being at their highest and was sure he'd be as happy as Larry once he was reunited with his father.
Kirsten finished washing the shampoo out of Seth's hair and then realised she didn't have a big enough towel to wrap him in, so she went down the corridor to the airing cupboard to get his favourite Spiderman towel. While she was occupied, she heard a key turn in the lock and Sandy's familiar voice call out "Hi! I'm ho-ome!"
Before she could stop him, Seth streaked down the hall and sprinted downstairs as fast as his legs would carry him. She arrived at the top of the stairs, carrying the towel, just in time to see her butt naked and soaking wet son scramble into his father's arms, drenching his shirt and jacket as he threw his arms round his neck and told him he'd missed him "millions and millions". Seemingly oblivious to his son's state of undress and nudity, Sandy held his son close and listened attentively to his account of his and Kirsten's adventures without him.
Kirsten signalled to him silently with a look and began creeping down the stairs towards the pair, towel unfolded and ready to wrap Seth in. He returned the look, agreeing with the plan wordlessly. He continued to heed his son's excited ramblings and waited for the right moment to release him. Kirsten nodded and he kissed the top of Seth's head tenderly before placing him on the ground. A second later, he was 'attacked' by a growling Kirsten who expertly wrapped him in the big fluffy towel and began rubbing him dry.
She then gave Sandy a quick kiss, avoiding getting too close to his chest due to its sodden state.
Seth watched them, having positioned himself on the bottom step of the staircase.
Sandy came over to him a moment later.
"Hey, Setheleh, why don't you show me and Mommy what a big boy you are by finishing drying yourself off, getting into your PJs, brushing your teeth and then you can choose two stories for me to read to you, OK?" Sandy enquired of his son, knowing that Seth performing these tasks without parental supervision involved them taking three times longer than they usually would, due to Seth's tendancy to start long, rambling conversations with everything in sight, especially Captain Oats and getting distracted by great ideas for stories or 'let's pretend' games, thus buying him at least half an hour of quality time with Kirsten that would also allow him to change into some more comfortable clothes, fix himself a drink and a snack and just relax a bit after his intense few days of travelling and work.
Forty minutes later, that had involved putting on his favourite sweater (his Berkeley one) and an old, worn in pair of jeans, consuming a bagel that had been schmeared to perfection, even if he did say so himself, and sipping a coffee whilst talking and kissing his beautiful wife, Sandy was summoned to his son's room.
As soon as Sandy had positioned himself on his son's bed, Seth crawled into his lap, relishing the safety and comfort he found there and began waving his choice of reading material in his face.
Sandy kissed the top of Seth's head and waited while he squirmed around to get comfortable which took a few seconds. Once his son was settled, he peered over his shoulder, opened the book and began reading about Winnie the witch who lived in a house where everything was black, so she kept tripping over her black cat. Seth knew all the words by heart and recited them along with his father. Kirsten poked her head round the door just as Winnie had made her cat multi-coloured which caused him to be teased by the birds and Sandy and Seth motioned for her to join them. Sandy moved a little further over in the bed to make room for Kirsten, who curled up next to Sandy and rested her head on his shoulder. Once Sandy had finished the story, with Winnie making her cat black again and making her house multi-coloured instead, Seth scrambled over to sit half on Sandy's lap and half on Kirsten's. Kirsten picked up the second story with a flourish. She announced that she was going to read to her two boys and they nodded in agreement vigorously. She began reading about a little girl who adopted a crocodile to stop him being made into a handbag and shoes and the adventures they got in. By the time she'd finished, Seth was almost asleep, though he insisted he wasn't tired at all and that he still had lots to tell Sandy about.
He let out an enormous yawn following his protest, thus nullifying it.
"Mommy... Picture... Show Daddy" he muttered as slumber descended and his head found its way onto his father's lap. Sandy began rubbing his son's back and stroking his hair, which were his usual techniques to soothe Seth and get him to sleep, ones he'd used from when his son was born.
"Ok, sweetheart, I'll go get it," she replied lovingly. She slipped out of the room, leaving Sandy to hold the sleeping child and returned moments later, holding a large sheet of paper.
Sandy had managed to get Seth into bed, under the covers and was tucking him in as gently as he could when his wife returned.
"He's out like a light, honey, you must have worn him out! He always chatters on when you're not here, it takes me ages to get him off..." Sandy whispered as he admired the picture his son had drawn him.
Kirsten grinned at her husband and he smiled back, visibly thrilled at his son's artistic talent and the fact he'd missed him so much.
He finished tucking his son in and then kissed him gently, quietly telling the bedbugs not to bite and wishing his son sweet dreams.
Kirsten followed suit and then made her way to the door. She paused when she saw Sandy stay where he was, perched at the end of the bed. She motioned for him to make his way out of the room, but he shook his head and motioned for her to join him. She considered this for a moment and then tiptoed back across the room. Sandy pulled her into his lap and they sat and proudly watched their beautiful little boy sleep.