There's nothing more heartwarming and heart tugging than being a parent and having your two-year old shed a tear at the prospect of you heading to work or out of the house for a while.
Unless you're the dad who gets left behind.
I was home with Big Boy EC for the morning while Mrs. EC was heading off to a meeting at work. The tears started almost as soon as she put on her coat to go while BB EC was strapped into his booster seat nibbling on a banana and some cinammon swirl toast.
"Where's Mommy going? Mommy stay here!"
We tried to answer by explaining the American capitalist system, that Mommy and Daddy have to work to be able to buy him toast and bananas and Thomas trains. BB EC was not taken in by our Cliffs Notes economic lecture.
"Mommy Don't Go." Tears. Mommy explains that she will be home for lunch. No go.
Finally, as all good parents do, we broke out the big guns.
"Mommy will bring you home a happy meal," the missus told him.
"Happy Meal?" BB EC sniffles. "Fries?
"Yes, we'll get you a cheeseburger, but we have to wait to lunch time."
For a two year old who, I swear, doesn't have fat food that much, BB EC is intimately familiar with the McDonald's menu. I expect him to start asking when they are going to bring back the McRib sandwich. Once the Happy Meal negotiations are squared away, Mrs. EC is able to get out the door with a minimum of tears.
This lasts for maybe four or five minutes. Once BB EC realizes that Mommy isn't coming back immediately, at 8:30 in the morning, with a Happy Meal, the crying starts again. "Where's Mommy?" We run to the front door and show how far our motor skills have advanced by undoing three different types of lock on the door. We run crying to the window, looking for Mommy's car. I try to distract him with books, but its a no go. We recreate the island of Sodor on the living room coffee table, but someone is just pissed that Mommy isn't waiting with Thomas at the train station. "Where Mommy? Happy Meal?" I once again make the mistake of using logic with a two year old, telling BB EC that Mommy is at work, and that McDonald's won't be making Happy Meals for at least another two hours. I keep Egg McMuffins out of the discussion, for fear of future morning repurcussions. The logic doesn't work, more red-faced screaming. I think that some music might help calm the situation, so I throw some Beatles in the CD player. Who doesn't like the Beatles? When Mommy is away, apparently BB EC doesn't like the Beatles. He runs screaming to the CD player, hits the tuner button so it changes to a staticky radio station, and cranks the volume up to about 30, and runs back to pout on the couch.
After about a half-hour of similar fun toddler activities, BB EC starts to simmer down a little, and brings me one of his favorite Max and Ruby books for us to read. As we snuggle on the couch and read, about halfway through Bunnycakes, he looks up on the top of the TV cabinet and sees my coffee mug.
"Daddy's coffee," he tells me.
"Yes, very good, that is Daddy's coffee." Good sign, he is quiet and interested in Daddy's things.
Suddenly, he lets out a little cry.
"Where Mommy's coffee?"
Luckily, this is one of the parting shots of the missing mommy meltdown morning, and we spend the rest of the morning playing happily until Mommy and his Happy Meal come home. After lunch, I head to work and get home around six.
BB EC runs to see me as soon as I get in the door.
"Did you miss me when I left?" I ask, wondering if he carried on for 45 minutes, pining for my missing coffee mug."
"For a minute," he tells me.