I tiptoe into my son's room and flip the light switch. The seven-year-old squirms and moans with unapproval at the sudden change of environment.
"Come on now Dustin, gotta get up and get ready for school," I coo softly. He looks so young when he's sleepy. Almost like when I first held him in my arms. I can't believe how fast time had flown. It seemed like just yesterday I was changing his diapers, waking up in the middle of the night to quiet him. And now he's seven, enjoying the second grade, playing rough with his friends, and in the prime of his childhood. I hope he savors it.
"Get up you lazy bum!" I say energetically, shaking his small frame playfully. His blonde hair flops to and fro across his youthful face, reminding me to give him a haircut when I get back from work.
"Oh, but Dad!" Protesting, he snatches the blankets and covers his face. I grab them just in time and rip them from his grasp. Throwing them behind me, I tickle the little boys stomach, enticing a rejuvenating laugh from the child, waking the both of us. He wiggles indignantly, and we are smiling from ear to ear.
In the midst of the laughter I hear my wife's voice call out, " Boys! What is happening up there? Breakfast is ready if you're interested!" It was as if the words were a gun shot at the start of a race. Half dressed, we slip and slide down the wooden stairs and pound down on the tiled floor, reaching our plates in a flying leap. My lover rolls her eyes and lets out a sigh at our foolishness.
"These are delicious, honey," I say with a bit of pancake in my mouth. The edges of her mouth twitch into a beautiful half smile. In a highchair to my left, my 3 year old daughter squeals happily as she watches a piece of food fall from her brother's mouth on to his lap. She looks just like her mother. Gorgeous hazel eyes are softly accented behind the freckles on the bridge of her nose. Her hair, so shiny and light, flows upon her shoulders. The bubbly personality of both mother and daughter will demand attention in a room. I can already tell my baby girl Katie will drive the boys crazy when she hits her teens. I hope I can keep up with her.
Finding my shoes, I slide them on and tie the strings. I straighten my tie, tuck in my shirt and do a final glance in the mirror. I grab my briefcase and I'm all set and ready to leave.
"Goodbye Dustin, bub-bye Katie," I give a kiss to both, a high five to my son and mess up my daughter's hair. She squeals in protest. I laugh in reply.
To my left, I see my wife standing there, looking like an angel with the soft morning sun silhouetting her body. The New York City line is the perfect backgroud to the whole picture. She is beautiful. I can't believe I found her in this crazy world. She is my everything, my universe. Just ten years ago, we didn't know each other, complete strangers. And now I can't imagine life any other way.
I approach her and give her one of my gigantic bear hugs, spinning her around the kitchen.
"Goodbye Sweetie," I say, and lean in for a kiss.
"Behave yourself," She replies with that little half smile of hers.
And with that I went out the door. Fumbling with my keys I unlock the small car, start it up, and back out of the short driveway of the apartment. In the side windows of my vehicle, I see the New York skyline in the distance, glimmering and shining in the new daylight. Looming skyscrapers stand tall and have an aura of pride that they have the ability to protect an important city.