Papaw Love

Kristy Eckert

By night No. 3, I was missing my little guy.

"It's just so weird not to kiss him goodnight," I told my husband.

I knew Cooper's crazy 4-year-old self was probably still awake, relishing time with his Papaw at Walt Disney World, high off cotton candy and the light parade, definitely not thinking of me. And that was fine. Fabulous, even.

But certainly by day five - five- he would be anxious to see his Momma. I was so early to our highway meeting point, I beat my perpetually early father, who was heading south from Akron. I peeled off my jewelry and left it in the cup holder so that when my boy ran toward me for one of those arms-out, life-affirming hugs, it wasn't interrupted with injury via amethyst.

When their car pulled into the gas station, I was jumping (seriously; my kid is in trouble when he is old enough to be embarrassed by me).

Coop took one look from his car seat, dropped his head and began to sob.

"Momma, can I just have one more week with Papaw, pweeeese?" he cried. "Just one more night?"

The tears flowed as we made our way back toward Columbus. Using the best reverse psychology/guilt-tripping I could muster, I looked at Coop in the rear-view mirror.

"Maybe we should just forget you ever had a momma or daddy," I said, "and we should take you to Mimi and Papaw's to live with them forever."

Sniffle, sniffle, sniffle … silence.

"OK," Coop said, strong and clear. "Can you turn the car around then?"

I actually laughed out loud. And eventually, so did he.

I get it. I mean who can hold a candle to the dude who buys you every single fake, overpriced weapon at the most magical place on Earth? (His cache on this trip included two swords, two guns, a light sabre and a knife. I'm unsure how he even got on the plane to return.)

Truth is one of the great joys of my life is watching my father with my son. They are ballplayers and superheroes, cowboys and wrestlers. They run around the house shooting invisible bad guys and know each other's favorite movie scenes. They wear matching freckles and matching outfits, and drink matching smoothies. They hit balls on the driving range (because Papaws are the only people crazy enough to find left-handed clubs for toddlers), build Lego castles, play pool basketball, and five more days 'til we see him again? THAT IS FOREVER, MOMMA!

We once asked Cooper a series of questions: Who is the smartest person you know? Who is the funniest person? Who is the most fun person? His answer for everything: Papaw.

I generally act as if being No. 2 bothers me. (Do you like how I took my husband out of the running, by the way? Sorry, darling.) But really, to love and to be loved, in a pure, unadulterated, gigantic, bursting-at-the-seams-of-my-Spiderman-costume, with sprinkles-on-top kind of way - is there anything more we can want for our kids?

I think not. Thank you, Daddy. I love you, too.

-Kristy Eckertis the editor of Capital Style.