The misadventures of a first time father

Monthly Archives: March 2014

uno-deep-dishI took my son out to dinner recently, just he and I.

My wife had the opening night of her recent play and he and I were having a guys’ night out. Partly, I did this as a bit of a test, to see how both he and I did on our own without mommy around. With all the trouble he’s been having falling asleep without my wife being home, I thought it might be a good exercise to try ourselves out and about and see how we do.

I’m glad to say things went relatively well. Well, he did well, anyway.

I took him to Uno because of all the places my wife and I have taken him to, that one seems to be where he does the best. I don’t know if it’s the decor, the coloring, or just the blonde waitress we always seem to run into there who he smiles and giggles at incessantly, like a 14 year old waiting to ask her out on a date. I have no clue. Regardless, it has done us good in the past.

We got a high chair, some crayons, and he and I were set. I ordered myself a mini/single size deep dish pizza and him some mac and cheese. (I know. For a family that tries hard to eat healthy, I really blew it on this venture.) Our waiter was great, very friendly, and when he realized the people around us who arrived after us had gotten their food before we did, he was like lightning into the kitchen to figure it out. Good guy.

Of course, during that wait, the little guy did need a little something to tide him over while we sat. Luckily, we had a box of organic raisins in his bag, so he had a few of those while we alternated between coloring on the place mat, reading his little board books, and me drawing him pictures on the napkin of Santa, The Count, Batman and Robin (now THAT’S a Justice League book I’d read).

I really can’t tell you too much about what was going on around us because, truth be told, I was completely and utterly engrossed in my boy. We talked, we read, we played, we drew, although we did talk to a nice middle-aged couple who were seated next to us and he kept smiling at. They told us seeing him made them want grandchildren, which I thought was very sweet.

So the food came and I moved back and forth between bites of my pizza and serving up small pieces (he probably could handle bigger, but I’m paranoid, so I cut them smaller anyway) of his mac and cheese to him. Suddenly, in the middle of our dinner he starts going, in that tiny little voice “uh-oh…uh-oh…uh-oh…” and grabbing his bum and front. I ask him if he needs a diaper change to which he replies, almost desperately, “uh-huh.”

I scooped him up, grabbed some wipes and a diaper and off to the bathroom we headed. The kind couple next to us was nice enough to watch our things while we were gone.

Here’s where the first snag of our night came about, though. We walked into the men’s room and I could find no changing station. So, there we were amid sinks, urinal, toilet and a floor. The restaurant was packed, so there were no options in there, and my car is tiny and has a car seat taking up a ton of space, so that’s out.

So, I did the only thing I could think of – I grabbed paper towels out of the dispenser, him in my arms, and laid them out on that bathroom floor to create some kind of ‘germ barrier,’ even if such a thing exists only in my mind. I laid him down, very careful with his head against the hard tiles and just began the diaper change, hoping that no one was going to walk in on us there, in the middle of the floor of this tiny bathroom at Uno changing a diaper.

I couldn’t believe how good the little guy was for me while I did this. Maybe he sensed how awful I felt about having to do this there, and what a terrible father I felt like for not having a better solution.

I emailed Uno about it via their website. I made sure to tell them that at our particular Uno, the service and food is always great. We’ve never had any service or product issues there, and I didn’t want it to seem otherwise. I was just concerned about other dads who may have been in a similar situation.

Well, within a day, they emailed me back, and boy did I feel like an idiot.

There WAS a changing table in there, it was just in the handicapped stall, where I never even thought to look. I replied, apologizing for my lack of investigating during the actual incident. They wrote back and told me there was no need to, and said maybe better signage might be needed.

I feel like such an idiot. It was there all the time and here I was, frantically changing my son on a bathroom floor.

Oy.

All cleaned and changed, I wiped his hands, arms and anything else that might have also touched the bathroom floor, and back to dinner we went. Before we knew it, we were all done, him handing me back his plate and putting his arms up in the air – his own little sign language he came up with himself for ‘i’m done’ ever since he was a little tiny guy.

We paid the bill (well, I did. I don’t think they’d take cuteness as currency. maybe. who knows?) and we were on our way, with him waving to every waitress and hostess at the front desk that he could manage before we made our way out the doors and into the car.

Still, the night was young and I knew the curtain wasn’t even going up on my wife’s play for another half an hour or so, meaning it would be hours before she came home. I needed a little more to tire the little guy out.

“Whattaya say, buddy?” I asked. “You wanta go look at books at Barnes and Noble?”

“Uh-huh” that tiny voice said back to me from the back seat.

And we were off to our next great guys night adventure and the misadventures that came with it.

But that’s another post.

Advertisements

Aside from playing and singing, bath time sometimes involves a special (feline) guest.

Aside from playing and singing, bath time sometimes involves a special (feline) guest.

My wife has decided to jump back into theatre. She’s missed it for quite some time, as it was a very large part of her life for so long (and how we met), but we both felt when she was pregnant that it was best to step away from the stage and take some time to just be a family.

Sooner or later, that itch is hard to resist and now that the little guy is in that stage between 1 1/2 and 2 years old, I think she was really starting to feel the pull of the performing arts once again.

A side note: I think it was also spurred on by an incident in the Fall when we got a call from a theatre director who lost a cast member two weeks before open and asked me if I would jump in to help out. I did, but it wasn’t out of a great love to go back; it was merely to help someone out who helped me in the past. That was only a few weeks, and usually when I’d get home, he would be fast asleep and Meg would be enjoying a nice cup of tea.

We sort of thought that’s how it would go this time around for her.

Not exactly.

In many ways, it’s been a wonderful experience, and an educational one at that. She’s been off to rehearsals by the time he and I get home, so on an average night, I’m feeding him his dinner (which she’s been nice enough and helpful enough to leave behind, making life easier), we have some playtime, he gets a bath, we do some story time, etc., but solo.

It has allowed for some incredible bonding between me and our little monkey, I will say. Just thinking of how anxious I would be of giving baths prior to the past few months, I realize how much this time has helped. Previously, Meg tended to give him baths. I would occasionally, but she did it on a regular basis. So, now that it’s been in my hands, it has somehow gone from the ‘ugh, how are we gonna do this?’ or ‘what am i doing?’ to ‘you do this, buddy, while I get the bath ready’ and it has turned into a very seamless (and fun) process.

We have fun, we splash, we talk and sing, and the whole thing just goes like any other motion I go through like putting him in the car or reading him a story. It’s helped me evolve as a dad, honestly. And I like it.

The only hitch we have run into with this ‘guys night’ scenario is that the little guy can spend an entire day or evening with me and we’re just fine, up until storytime is over and it’s time for bed. He refuses to go to bed without mommy home. We read book after book after book, and I think ‘is this the one that’ll get him tired?’ and he does get pretty tired, but he fights it. He fights it with a longing and hope that mommy is going to walk through that door and put him to bed, proper, because daddy is just not what he wants at that moment.

I’ve tried a lot of different things – rocking him, singing to him, giving him a few minutes to calm down once he’s in the crib and yelling for mommy, but unlike when Meg does it, he doesn’t calm down. He only makes himself worse. Sometimes I’ll get lucky and if I lay him on our bed after that, he’ll be tired enough to fall asleep next to me or on my arm or something like that, where we tend to remain until Meg comes home and somehow, through mystical or magic powers, because there’s no other way I can comprehend, picks him up and places him in the crib without him blinking. It’s amazing.

I know it won’t be like this forever, and while I would LOVE for him to be able to fall asleep comfortably with me like he does with her, I wouldn’t change this past month or so. After almost three years (counting pregnancy), she finally has the chance to get out and have a life outside of being ‘mommy’ for a change. It’s something she not only deserves, but needs to have in her life, especially when it’s something she’s so passionate about, like theatre. I admit, I haven’t been the most communicative about her show by the time she gets home, not out of disinterest, but mostly just due to the combination of fatigue and irritability after a long fight to get him down. But I’m happy she’s getting back to something she loves and something she identifies with.

I also wouldn’t change a thing because, despite all that difficulty, all the fighting he may give me when it’s time to go to bed, those hours of the night beforehand, when it’s just the two of us, laughing, playing, putting blankets on our backs like capes, giving him a bath and singing songs along with the radio, or just reading story upon story with him curled up in my arms, makes any difficult part so trivial. This is my son, this is my little guy, and these are times that will only last for so long.

I want to enjoy them and learn from them as much as I can.


Some comics getting packed up for Operation Gratitude.

Some comics getting packed up for Operation Gratitude.

I don’t do a lot of holding onto my comics when I’m done reading them these days. It’s rare I come across something I want to hold on to ‘forever’ like I did when I was a kid. And with the proliferation of collected editions that easily fit onto a bookshelf, the number of actual comics in the house has dwindled.

Not to mention how much I love purging. I am trying so hard to bring us down to a simpler, less cluttered lifestyle. I will periodically go through boxes, closets, shelves, and pull out things I have not used in a very long time and see little use for in the future. I’d much rather someone else get use out of it than me hoarding it for no reason whatsoever. Sometimes it’s clothes, sometimes it’s electronics, sometimes it’s books, and sometimes it’s comics.

Clothes and electronics can sometimes go on eBay, but it’s rare that the items are anything worthwhile to take the time and effort to put them online for a very minimal amount of money.

So, often times it’s off to the Salvation Army or Goodwill where, hopefully, others will get enjoyment and use out of these things. Comics are tricky to figure out what to do with, though. I do sometimes keep a pile that can be handed out to young trick or treaters (if it’s age appropriate), but I recently came across something that gave me a great alternative that will definitely put comics into some anxious readers’ hands – Operation Gratitude.

They take numerous items, including comic books and send them off to troops who are fighting overseas in care packages. A little piece of home, a little bit of escapism while they’re out there far away from their families, being real heroes in the world.

So, I’ve recently started putting aside new comics that I’ve purchased and read once, boxing them up and sending them on to Operation Gratitude to make their journey into the hands of the fighting forces. As I’ve done so, I’ve explained to my son what it is I’m doing with the books and where they are headed. How much of it he understands at a year and a half, or will remember, I don’t know, but I feel compelled to show him what we do and why we do it, in the hopes that it stays somewhere in his brain as he gets older.

Hopefully, somewhere in the back of his head he will recall moments like these and be triggered to perform his own acts of donation in some form.

I know sending comics may not be much, but I can imagine escapism is pretty important in the situations the troops are in, so I hope it helps.


Okay, so this is not so wordless this time. It requires backstory.

We were watching Sesame Street on Netflix recently and had to pause it for bath time. I suddenly noticed the odd moment at which we happened to pause, and started laughing at the moment it paused.

My theory – Leela finally got sick of living on a street with Monsters and Muppets popping out of garbage cans, yelling at her, and eating all her cookies. The girl just finally lost it. We all have a breaking point.

"I am sick of living on a street with monsters popping out of garbage cans and eating all my cookies!"

“I am sick of living on a street with monsters that pop out of garbage cans or eat all my cookies!”


This is what a real Oscar Party looks like.

This is what a real Oscar Party looks like.



%d bloggers like this: