Every Saturday, since Carol went back to work 8 months ago, has been a “daddy day.” It’s the one day of the week that I take care of Henry by myself for the entire day. And no I don’t think I should get a prize for that. There are single parents who take care of multiple children and I have absolutely no idea how they do it. My philosophy with “daddy day” has always been “Okay, let’s just get through this.”
I don’t usually try to get much of anything done. I don’t do the laundry or the food shopping or try and do any writing. Carol usually has goals when she takes care of Henry; she always wants to do a million errands. And I love her for it, that kind of can do attitude is probably what keeps this operation going. But the flip side of that is that I’ve come home after work on some of her “Henry days” to find her in a state of defeated exhaustion because Henry won’t nap the way she wanted him to and try as she might, she couldn’t get her errands done. If you have no goals, no matter how the day unfolds, you won’t be disappointed.
Pre-Henry, one of my favorite things to do on a Saturday was to laze around the apartment for the entire day. There was nothing I enjoyed more than staying in my comfy pajamas, reading, watching TV, catching up on my sleep, and surfing the web. It was of course rare that I could be that lazy all day as Carol was usually there to remind me that the laundry, the food shopping, and the house cleaning needed to get done during the weekend too. However, since Henry has been born and the majority of my Saturday is spent sitting on the floor with Henry and watching as he pushes his trucks back and forth across the living room over, and over, and over again, I am understandably much more interested in getting out and about a bit more and doing something with my day.
To wit, I started a tradition of taking Henry to a local bagel shop every Saturday around his lunchtime. I’d bring him inside in his stroller and the staff there would start to fawn over him and I’d get some food and some coffee. I’d sit as close as I could to the counter where people ordered and I’d eat it while Henry sat in his stroller and watched the people ordering. Henry loves to watch people. I think he enjoys trying to figure them out. Then when I was done eating I’d put Henry in a high chair and give him some food I’d prepared at home and brought and then we’d be on our way.
Last week we didn’t make it over to the bagel shop, but I did take Henry on a long walk in his stroller at a park that’s near our house. This park happens to have a ¼ mile long hill with a 60% grade. It’s a monster of a hill, but it’s really the only thing to do if you want anything more than a short walk. And so reluctantly I took Henry down the hill in his stroller, knowing that every step down I took I would have to repeat by going back up. The path was empty that day except for the occasional cyclist so I sang camp songs from my youth and talked to Henry about whatever it was that was on my mind that afternoon. Henry is a good listener.
This past Saturday morning I had to go to the post office and mail some Christmas packages. The closest post office that’s open on Sat. is in the next town over. Henry and I waited in line for more than a half hour to send the packages. Then I had to go across town to my bank to put a check in. Well, by this time. Henry was asleep in his car seat. While I waited in line at the drive thru ATM at my bank, I’d put the car into park and turn around and look at Henry in the car seat. He was sleeping with his head pitched forward. This always seems like a painful way to sleep and I imagine Henry waking up with a stiff neck or something so I try and push his head back against his seat’s headrest but he just pitches forward again. So, then I got out a blanket and I tried to put it in-between his head on the headrest and get him to lean on the blanket, but that didn’t work either.
Meanwhile, after all these errands I was thinking about breakfast, but I didn’t want to wake Henry up so I went through a drive thru and got some food and drove back to the apartment. Henry was still asleep in his seat so I parked the car, left the ELO cd on, and ate my food. I was prepared to sit in the car and read “Wool” on my I-phone, but Henry woke up. He had only been asleep for about a half hour. I foolishly thought maybe he’d sleep better if I took him up to the apartment, but when we got inside and he saw his toys and the cats all thoughts of sleeping were forgotten.
I didn’t worry about it too much, I figured he’d go down for another nap in an hour or two. But I ended up spending most of the afternoon trying every 45 minutes or so to get him to take that nap. He was so cranky, but he just won’t go to sleep. That afternoon I tried 5 times to get him to take a nap and he actually went down the 5th time and he slept for an hour. Carol got home right after he was asleep and the two of us were able to eat our dinner without a kid throwing his food on the floor.
I don’t want you to think that we had an awful day. It really wasn’t that bad. We also had a lots of fun. I stretched a blanket over my head like it was a big cape and chased Henry around the room saying I was the blanket monster and then I’d hug and kiss him and cover him with the blanket. He thought this game was a lot of fun.
Henry is getting older so fast though; his new thing is that he pushes the computer chair around like it’s one of his toys. At first I had to stand behind him and help him push, but the other day he grabbed my hand while it was on the chair and pushed it away as if to this, “let me do it myself dad.” So I let go and Henry pushed the thing around by himself. It really seems like Henry is starting to understand how to communicate. In addition to pushing me away he’s reached for my hand when he’s wanted me to help him with something. The other new thing he did this week is he noticed the 10” by 13” framed picture of him that we have in the living room from when we got his picture taken at a portrait place for the holidays. He went over near it and started pointing to it. I picked him up and started telling him “that’s you, and you’re making your patented smirk,” and he reached for the picture and laughed. He definitely recognized himself.