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So much has changed in our little guy in the short time we were gone. He seems stronger, smarter, articulating better, more compliant but at the same time, more defiant. These small differences are just amazing to witness, as the steadily sloping bell curve of his awesomeness reaches an apex.

We had a great day. My husband took him to the park in the morning to run off some energy, then they came home for lunch and naptime. In the afternoon, they went back out together, this time to the pool, before we all went out for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants.

I must say how surprised I was that our little guy was so well behaved. Normally, when we go out, his patience wears out way before the food comes, and he always insists on being let out of the high chair. It always ends with me eating cold food, if any at all, and wondering why we even bother to torture ourselves with this ritual.

But this time was different. He went willingly into the chair, and colored the children’s menu blissfully, snacking on the occasional animal cracker. Then he discovered the restaurant’s soundtrack, which I will admit is catchy. He began bopping in his chair along with the music, happy as a clam, and his giggle was infectious. As our food arrived, we were all laughing together and grooving in our chairs.

I cut up his kid’s meal for him, which he was hungry enough to do some pretty good damage to. He managed his meal and I was able to eat mine as well. For the first time, I think ever, we had a real family meal, each of us eating our own food at the same time. And this, my friends, my dear readers, is what I have been waiting for. Not just over the week we were gone; I have been waiting for this moment since the day he was born. The apex moment of quintessential family history. The first family meal. The best possible reward for returning to our lives. I won’t soon forget it.