When Cass and I first started seeing each other we wanted to keep the fact that I was, on a frequent basis, spending the night from the boys as long as possible. Not because either of us thought that there was anything wrong with it but simply because it was something we didn’t want them to have to deal with. Also, if truth is told, because Cass initially adopted a very Dred Pirate Roberts from The Princess Bride attitude towards me. “Good night Wesley. Good work. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.”
Once in the middle of the night I was woken up by a very strong pull on my arm. I have mentioned before that nobody but me in this house knows how to close a door. As it happens, Cass used to suck at locking doors too. On this night she left the bedroom door unlocked. A very much still asleep T2 left his room, wandered into the master bedroom, crawled into bed between us and grabbed my forearm with a two handed death grip. The room was completely dark. The only thing I could really see by the moonlight filtering through the window was the reflection off of Cass’s very wide eyes, staring at me over the pajama clad and snoring T2.
I slowly, like I was defusing a bomb, extricated myself from his grasp. I equally slowly slid out of bed. I paused for a moment to map the room in my head and then inch by inch, step by step, worked my way to the door, avoiding the dresser and the chest at the foot of the bed and a pile of towels I had noticed the evening before. Opening the door was done with the care and precision of heart surgery and seeming to take just as long. I finally got out of the room, eased the door shut and left the condo.
Thankfully, I only lived half a block away, so even on days (nights) when the door was blessedly locked it didn’t take much for me to get home. I would get up in the morning five or so minutes before they did and head out.
After a while, I started coming back. I’d go home, maybe have some coffee, let Buck out and feed her and then go back to Cass and the boy’s place. I’d help with breakfast or pick out clothes. Those mornings are when we started becoming a family. Pretty quickly, I started making T2’s lunch. I’ve been doing it even since.
T2 likes what he likes. Peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Applesauce. Chips of some sort. Fruit drink. Lately we have been throwing in cherry tomatoes which, much to my disgust, he eats like candy. I’ve tried to mix it up a bit but every time I do he comes home and complains. All of this went into a little blue lunchbox. Not a cool metal Duke of Hazard or Star Wars lunchbox like I had when I was his age, all metal latches and the included and branded thermos. Just a small blue nylon box shaped bag. I figure I’ve made at least 600 lunches for that bag.
That much peanut butter takes its toll. I noticed at the beginning of the school year that the lunchbox was getting raggedy. The nylon was discolored and starting to fray a bit at the decorative piping. I was having to start to wipe down the insulated interior more often to keep it clean. The whole thing was getting dingy and a little gross. Also, it wasn’t big enough.
T2 is getting big and has started to want more lunch than could reasonably be packed into the lunchbox he had in first grade. When I did WATCHDOGS again this year (after last year’s triumph) I noticed most of the kids had larger lunchboxes. Newer ones too. I asked T2 if he wanted a new one, he said he did and so he and his mom picked one out on Amazon. We used it for the first time on Monday.
It was weird.
I know “kids grow up” is hardly a revelation, but it usually happens so gradually you don’t notice it save at major events. This was a very minor event, the changing of a relatively insignificant piece of school gear. Still…weird.
I found myself getting really sentimental about the lunchbox. It was a tool I used to become part of the family. It was the thing I used to make sure my littlest boy (not really so little any more) had food at school every day. I was really sad we were getting rid of it.
T2 sat at the counter munching on a pop tart and looking at me.
“New lunchbox,” he said.
“Yup,” I said. “New lunchbox.”
“I was just thinking about all the lunches I made for you with this one.”
“Yeah,” he agreed.
“Oh well,” I said and moved towards the trash.
“Hey,” he said, “wait!”
“Why don’t we just keep it?” he asked.
“Your old lunchbox?” I asked.
“Yeah,” and a shrug. “You know…in the pantry…for now.”
“Okay,” I said and put the old lunchbox on the shelf at the bottom of the pantry and grabbed an applesauce.