The little guy kept thrusting his hand down just inside of the coat or catching just his thumb on the sleeve, which forced his elbow out sharply. And the sight of him like that, like he's been winged, is too much for me; it's a reminder of all the things I'm afraid of. It went on like this for a long time; a little like trying to coax a bird that's inadvertently flown indoors back through an open door without hurting it.
But after many, many tries, we finally connected. His arm went the right way at the perfect pitch and I caught his thrust and pulled his little hand home. It felt like catching the express train after missing the local and waiting at the station for a long time.
"T'ank you Daddy," he said delightfully, and looked up at me with the sweetest most pure radiance of affection.
He repeated his thanks when he saw my weary smile, "T'ank you."
It isn't always like that, of course; sometimes I just can't get it right and I have to take a long break, call for help or just give up. But every once in a while there's a spoonful of the sweet to go with the bitter and it goes right to my heart like the warmth of brandy.
Thanks right back at you little man. Thanks a million.