Dirk Knemeyer

Soren 5.0

My young son turned five recently, bringing to a close a wonderful year in his life. In terms of my relationship with him, it was a particularly good year as his “Mommy only or bust” evolved into “Mommy’s my #1 by a mile but I am close with daddy, too.” Trust me when I say this is a huge step of progress in our relationship.

Soren is reaching the point where his personality is more clearly coming out. He is a happy extravert, who approaches social situations that would make his sister or I uncomfortable with an easy openness. He is naturally inclusive, casually generous, and someone that other people like to be around. He is at a wonderful preschool, Southborough Village Preschool. They have different classes on Tuesday and Thursday compared to Monday/Wednesday/Friday. On the first set of days his best friend is Malik (“Maliky”) and on the second set, Wesley. His friends tend to be boys, and he almost exclusively likes “boy things”, despite my best efforts to neuter and diversify his options. But, really, Soren has lots of friends at school. He’s just a likable little guy.

Our relationship with one another changed when his mother left to attend a conference last summer. With her leaving the house entirely for almost a week Soren had no choice but to relate directly to me. That may not seem like an extraordinary thing, but it really was. Soren’s default was always to go to mommy. And, “going to mommy” necessarily involves his being whiny, not self-sufficient, and conspicuously exclusive of me. Somewhere in there was a codependent, unhealthy, and a little odd set of behaviours. They may have been age-appropriate and not actually odd; my perspective on it was not judgmental beyond seeing it as something that was probably not in his best interests, and as something that kept our relationship very arms-length. Well, once his mother left and his only option was good ol’ dad, he embraced it. All the times that, in the past, he would not have let me do – be the one to tuck him in, or pick him up from school without a sad “Where’s mom?”, became just fine. There wasn’t even a transition process beyond crying uncontrollably the first 10 minutes she was gone. Once she was gone, he grew up without trying. Once she was gone, Daddy was A-OK with him.

Since then our relationship has continued to grow. When Mom returned I resumed my role as Parent #2 for him but now he was happy for me to pick him up from school or tuck him into bed. This winter we drove together to Toledo to visit the family – over 10 hours drive both ways and almost 5 total days together over the trip – and that took us to another level. Whereas, when his mother was gone, we had babysitters and other activities that contributed to Soren’s management – not to mention his sister always being around as well – on this trip it was just the two of us. We slept together and woke together and basically did everything together. It was great. Soren is easy to travel with and just easy to be with. I think he found me to be the same. So, with the exception of a couple of quivering lip “missing mommy” moments we had a terrific time that brought us quite a bit closer. After this trip, it became important for Soren to spend a lot of time with me on a daily basis. It is one of the great happinesses in my life, to bring our relationship to a stage of real camaraderie and mutual enjoyment.

Soren wants to grow up to be a construction worker. That has been a consistent thread since he was able to communicate some notion of what he would want to grow up to be. And he likes trains and blocks and very boyish things. But, he also admires his sister. He parrots her in words and actions and does the same things as her. So when he’s on his own it is generally stereotypically boy things, but with his sister he plays Barbie and all other semblance of stereotypical girl things.

Soren’s energy is radically inconsistent. On one hand he is a total snuggle bug. He loves to cuddle and be rubbed. This is similar to me but very different than his mom and sister who can’t sit still and don’t particularly enjoy that type of closeness. On the other he has that typical sort of male destructiveness, being overly rough or throwing himself aggressively into your face or callous with possessions. It isn’t anything beyond what is typical of “boys being boys” but is in stark contrast to how much he likes to be soft and cuddle on the other extreme, as well as being very foreign to my kinder worldview.

Perhaps the thing I enjoy most about Soren is that he is enthusiastically positive about life. Everything is “the best ever”. Best pizza ever. Best game ever. Best mom ever. Best day ever. My maternal grandfather, the relative I was closest with growing up and whose name Soren and I both share as our middle names, is remembered as getting out of bed each day saying “Today is going to be a great day!” Soren shares this positivity with him, a joy and sense of good energy that is healthy and beautiful. While the rest of us have varying degrees of skepticism he has a smile and a surge of happiness that I can only hope to adapt.

Happy birthday son!

Tagged on:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *