The baby was crying again.

It’s 5:15 AM this morning or 2 hours sitting on the tarmac in Boston or rushing through LaGuardia or flying over West Virginia or pulling into the driveway at home at 12:30 am. Mixed up schedules, cancelled flights, weather delays – all combine into sore feet, bland airport hallways, and a tired toddler. At some point it all just blurs together and you forget when and where you are. Airports are like casinos in that respect.

But you just push through it. You run up the ramp, kick the stroller along, rock the baby. Change diapers in vacant gates, eat crap food, and exchange pained looks with knowing parents.  I finally collapsed in my bed at 2 am, only to be woken up by our baby crying at 5:15 am this morning – confused and stressed and tired. How I feel multiplied by a factor of 10. He has no filter no ability to put things on the back burner for some other time. What he feels, he feels now. What he wants, he wants now.

So I rock him – my wife tried but he wants me now (my wife silently saying “finally” as he only wanted her while we were flying). I play trains with him and push trucks around the living room; giving him all the energy I can muster – because you can’t fake it. Kids can tell when you’re going through the motions and not giving them your full attention. They’re attuned to every little thing you do. There is no faking them out. You might think you are but they know you aren’t engaged with them. They know if you’re really trying, absolutely committed to being with them.

It’s so easy to to fall into just going through the motions. Push a truck along while you check your smartphone. Bounce them up and down while watching the TV. Push those papers across your desk – they’re someone else’s problems – not yours.

It’s 6:45 am and I’m the first person in the office this morning.

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