Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Don't cry for me, Argentina

I feel I need to stop here, "for a second," as Liam likes to say, and note for the record, that I'm doing fine, and that the past few months of being a stay at home dad have been some of the best of my life.

Based on various reactions I get from people who read this blog, the sense I seem to be giving folks is one that is quite grim. And that's not the case. I'm very happy, and having a great time. However, I also want to be candid about my frustrations. So for those worried about my mental health: Don't.

One of the other spouses in Jen's program asked me a couple weeks ago if I was counting the days until the semester is over and we go home. She said that apparently, many of the other spouses she meets in the program are.

I had to think about that. Which tells me, of course, that I haven't been counting the days. As of now, we've been here six months, and we'll be back in Oakland in five months. But as part of my role out here, I've invested quite a bit of energy in meeting folks, building a community, getting the kids involved, and learning about this area.

So yes, I'll be excited to see folks back home. But at the same time, it's weird to think that in five months, I may never again see many of these folks who have suddenly become so vital to our daily lives. And that makes me a little sad.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The good, the bad, and the ugly...

The past two days have encapsulated the full range of my experience as a stay at home dad. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Sunday morning started off rough. Liam, of late, has been opposed to leaving the apartment. Ever. Whether it's morning, or afternoon, he wants to just play here. No parks. No museum. No library. So getting him dressed and out the door has become an epic undertaking. And it's hard not to get frustrated.

With Jen back in school for a couple weeks and gone all day, I was determined to get the kids out and doing...something. The weather, improbably, was sunny and headed to the 60s. So there was no way I was going to sit in the apartment for 10 hours. Fortunately, Jen was still around to get the kids dressed. I threw them in the bike trailer and just took off. I figured I'd at least ride a bit and find a park.

Rather randomly, I decided to head over to the Museum of Fine Arts. I hadn't had a chance to visit yet, but I remember it being a great museum. This is one of those moves that was ripe for disaster. Two toddlers in a museum? But instead, it was great. One of those parenting moments that crystallizes why being a parent can be so great.

We had lunch when we first got there ($13 for a salad! Are you kidding?). And then headed upstairs to the galleries. Liam was incredibly interested in everything. He stood quietly and examined several paintings and statues. We started in a room full of late 19th century impressionists. He had fun trying to guess what those fuzzy pictures were supposed to be. And Kalian was gazing, pointing across the room to paintings she wanted to check out.

We wandered around for almost two hours. Liam was our tour guide, pulling out the museum map and telling us where to go next. When they were finally getting tired, I threw them back into the bike trailer and headed home. After getting back, Liam said he wanted to do some painting, which is rare for him. We painted for a about 30 minutes, made a huge mess, and had a great time.

That night, we had movie night after Kalian went to bed. On the DVD player: "The Muppet Movie." If you haven't seen this in awhile, check it out. It was even better than I remember. Very adult and childish. Liam was transfixed, though we had to explain certain things. Like when Mel Brooks, playing an evil German doctor, tries to hook Kermit up to a brainwashing machine. (Me: "Well...he's a bad man and he's trying to get Kermit to do something he doesn't want to do. And that's not nice." Liam: "I'll knock him down.")

The next morning was also great. Liam went to his occupational therapy session. And while he claims not to like them, was clearly having a lot of fun.

After that, I took him to preschool for the day. Then I took Kalian to coop. Today was the Coop's annual party to celebrate all the kids' birthdays. It's truly a great group of folks. One of the moms wore a bear suit and sang songs, which alternately amused and terrified the kids.

But later in the day, things went south. I picked up Liam, and rather than take them home, I took them to Target. Part of a mission to keep them occupied and out of the apartment at any cost. But both kids went bonkers, jumping in and out of the cart, running around the aisles. So I abandoned the cart and got back in the car.

When we got home, the kids were totally wound up and running around like crazy. I was praying that Jen would suddenly decide to come home early. As I was starting dinner, I heard the kids jumping on our bed. And then...a crash, and a scream.

I ran in and found Kalian face down on the table next to our bed. She had a one-inch gash just under her right eye, and her face was covered in blood. (The doctor said facial cuts tend to bleed a lot.) I rushed to dress both kids and get them in the car, freaking out, and rushed over to urgent care. Jen met us there.

Turns out that while the cut was deep, Kalian didn't need stitches. But she does look like she just got off the set of Rocky 6. Of course, by Tuesday morning, she was her old chipper self.