Sunday, August 13, 2006

It's like summer vacation, only more stressful...

Well, almost two weeks have flown by since my last post. Things have settled down somewhat. Boxes are (mostly) unpacked. Jen is halfway through her grueling summer session. And Chris (otherwise known as me) has not thrown himself through a window yet. It's the small victories, yes?

The transition to full-time fatherhood has been both fun and challenging. Fun, of course, because the kids are great and teach me so much everyday. How can you not love moments like this:

Or Liam learning the Banjo-tam:

Challenging, it almost goes without saying, because there's almost no mental break, in particular because Jen's schedule is so packed. And there are other factors that are raising the degree of difficulty. Though we've met some folks, we have little community to fall back on. On days when I'm feeling a little pooped, I can't just call up a buddy and arrange a low stress playdate. Instead, I feel the pressure to organize, arrange, and execute some entertainment or activity everyday for Thing 1 and Thing 2.

That's often complicated by the fact that when we want to do something new, we don't know all the logistics involved, and therefore it's 10 times as stressful as it would otherwise. Particularly if driving is involved. Because as anyone who as lived here will tell you, driving anywhere in the Boston area is a nightmare. Not only because of traffic, but because of an insane street system and ubiquitous construction. As a result, things that look close on a map can take forever to reach. My aunt lives 5 miles away and the drive takes 30 minutes. The other day I took the kidlets to the zoo, a 6 mile drive: Drive time was 1 hour, 15 minutes. You quickly understand why people are so hostile and rude here when they're behind the wheel. I've found myself ready to take human life on more than once occasion.

That said, I overall feel like I'm on an extended holiday with the kids. They are still learning their way around each other and how to interact, especially now that Kalian has steamrolled into toddlerhood. Witness:

She wants to do everything that big brother does, which he both loves and hates. I feel like days often sound like the following transcript: "Liam, stop. Let go of your sister. Don't. Put your feet down. Kalian, stop provoking him. Liam, no. No. Stop. Quit it. Please." They're figuring it out. But of course, I know this is all payback for the way I tortured my little brother growing up.

Some days, it's like this: The kids just hanging out on the steps at Quincy Market in Faneuil Hall, cracking each other up, playing around, and just being cute:

And some days, it's like this:

Sigh. But we're learning. Especially me. I often feel guilty for not being more patient with them, or the times when I lose my cool. I have to keep reminding myself that they're just kids, and not privates in my personal army, expected to follow every command without question. But I also find that I'm embracing the role of running the house, including cooking all the meals, shopping, cleaning. Strangely, I don't fell myself missing work all that much, certainly not nearly as much as I expected.

The best part of all this are the things I get to experience with them. It really is like summer vacation in the sense that we're getting to see and do so much together. We visited Boston Commons, played in Frog Pond...

...and rode the Swan Boats. Went to the Children's Museum. The zoo. The aquarium. Riding the "T" (Liam's favorite so far). Many, many parks. Music Together (though we miss their old teacher from Oakland). Swimming pools. We took a day trip to Crane Beach in northeast Mass. And we've been here less than a month.

This past weekend, I had a rare day off to sit in a cafe by myself, read the newspaper, and drink Algerian coffee. Very decadent. I barely knew what to do. The next day, we went to the North End, the city's Italian district, to experience one of the local religious festivals. This would be familiar to any Sopranos fan.

It was an all too rare family outing:

Okay, this is overly long. I'll sign off for now. Gotta get to bed and start all over again tomorrow. Bye.