Today at 12:30 his mom will come and pick him up for the last time. His little brother will be born soon and he will be staying home with him instead of coming over to our house every weekday morning. I’m feeling a little sad at the end of this Daddy Day Care season as I become just a lowly, non-paid, at home dad. With the Charge I was a child care provider, a Manny (man-nanny), helping bring home a little money to add to the family pot. It was nice to say that I was more than just a stay at home dad, that I was doing something that had a clear monetary value. Writing about it seems silly after I have tried to show the value of raising kids and address issues of Masculinity for stay at home dads, but even I look for ways to assign value to my role. That is a therapy session for another day though and today is for saying goodbye to the Charge.
For the last year and a half The Charge as been my responsibility from breakfast to afternoon nap time. All three boys played together, fought like brothers, and collected developmental milestones like baseball cards. After living together for two years Segundo and The Charge have not really known a time when the other wasn’t there but now they no longer have each other as allies against Primo. Segundo is on his own and The Charge becomes the big brother after being the low kid on the totem pole all his life.
While it is a sad day there might have been signs for The Charge’s mom that it was time to make the change. Yesterday when she came to pick him up we had been playing outside and in the garage and I was in and out of the house doing things. The garage door was open as well as the side door to the house and I was pretty aware of what was going on, at least I thought I was. When the car pulled up I was in the house and at the door I told her that he was in the garage. We walked around the house and found the Charge.
“What’s he eating?”
Oh, let me see, that’s a muffin from the bike trailer that has been in there from when we brought muffins to Primo’s class two weeks ago.
“Is that a knife in his hands?”
ah, yeah that was a knife we were using to carve faces on the pumpkins, let me just take that out of his hands.
“Does he have shoes on?”
Doesn’t he? I thought he had shoes on earlier, but maybe it was just his dark socks. Oh they weren’t dark socks before?
She was a good sport about all of it and knew that I was mostly a capable care provider but maybe it was for the best that he would be with his mom now. He might not have the other two boys to challenge him as much but he would definitely live to tell about it now. It is a sad day here for me and I will miss my time with the Charge. We will continue to trade child care and have our weekly dinners together but I will miss his little face.
It has been raining off and on for the last week here in Portland. There was a mysterious line of animals walking by the house two by two but I don’t think it’s anything to be worried about. We have rain boots and jackets but the kids have been feeling sick and not really that adventurous so we have spent most of the time in the house building forts and watching videos. Wanting to get some fresh air I opened the garage door, suited the kids up, and set up their art tabes out there while I cleaned up a bit. There is still plenty to organize and clean from our move and with a little music and supplies we all had a good time. The boys used markers to color their paper, and then the boxes I emptied, and then wanted to tag the door that had already been decorated by the previous tenant. Fearing a a dangerous precedent I limited their creativity to the paper.
We got some fresh air and the boys would occasionally venture out into the rain on their bikes and then rush back in. We all felt better for the exercise and cleared lungs and I was able to get a little more cleaned up out there. When you can’t get all the way outside sometimes an open door or window helps.
The kids of Band of SAHD want you to listen to their daddies!
Starting tonight at 11 PM eastern, 8 PM pacific the Band of SAHD podcast will be on Wednesday nights instead of Sunday. We are excited to be moving to a new night and hope that more people will be able to tune in with us live. A big part of the show is the banter that goes on in the live chat room and we are looking forward to those continuing conversations. Tonight we will be talking about technology and kids, thoughts on the book Unconditional parenting, and a little on the start of the NBA season I’m sure. Tune in if you can, chime in on the chat or by calling in, and if nothing else download the show to listen on your own.
Today we went to the pumpkin patch on Sauvie Island with Primo’s school. We got to have a hay ride, get a pumpkin from the field, run around a hay bale maze with the boys and generally have a good time. It was cold and foggy out lending a spooky feel to the whole event. While the boys had a great time and the pictures look great it was all a big pain in the ass for me. I feel sick and my allergies picked up on the farm and I had to keep track of the three boys in the muddy, cold, wet field and I’m tired and and and…. Pictures neve tell the whole story and most the time neither do my blog posts. It all sounds so fun and easy but it usually isn’t. There is the blowout diaper in the car on the way to the patch, stinking up the joint like the day after a hotel room party on the Motley Crue Girls, Girls, Girls tour. Or the thousand questions from the four year old that I got tired of answering twenty questions in and started snapping back at him impatiently. I tried to be the good involved dad playing with the kids on the hay pyramids when all I want to do it is go home and put the kids down for naps at 11 AM so I can lay down too. Faking it in public is the one thing all parents have in common I think. At least I hope we all have it in common, otherwise I feel like a bad parent. This stuff here doesn’t make you a bad parent or a good parent for getting through it, it just makes you a parent. This is the stuff of parenting.
Last night we had the great privilege of having Chris from Stay At Home Dad in Lansing and his family over for dinner. They are visiting the North West to check the area out and since most people on twitter believe that Chris and I are actually a couple it seemed only fair that we have them over. Last night also marked six years of marriage for Beautiful and I on 10/10/10 on the calendar. It seemed like a big night all around. We enjoyed some local smoked salmon from my Aunt and Uncle (it was also my aunt’s birthday yesterday so a big day indeed) and tasty rainbow chard and carrots from the Kruger Farms. Chris and his wife brought voodoo donuts to share and by the end of dinner we were all in a little food coma. Primo and Segundo were quite taken with Tessa and followed her around finding new and interesting ways to make her laugh. It was nice time meeting someone that I have talked to online for some time now, and co-host a podcast with for the last few months and I have to say he was who I thought he was going to be. No big surprises, other than how well we all got along.
Since Sunday night is the Band Of SAHD podcast we headed out to the recently cleaned out garage with our laptops in tow and snuggled up to a portable heater and the speaker phone from my newly installed land line. I think the sound was bit off but it was great to do the podcast in person. It felt ore like a conversation since we were talking directly to each other instead of over cell phones three time zones apart. We talked about Portland Gems, play groups, and how terrible women are as parents as we enjoyed some tasty beer. If you haven’t heard the podcast before check it out here and go to itunes and subscribe to it. We get together live every Sunday night at 8 Pacific, 11 Eastern and talk about parenting, sports, gender roles, and what ever else we can make up on the spot.
It is cliche to say that things change when you have kids but it is also very true. You have less time to your self, more responsibility, less friends, more grape jelly hand print stains on the back of your t-shirts and so on and so on. I knew getting into this gig that things were changing but there are some things that still caught me off guard. One of them is that I would never get the chance to go to the bathroom by myself, undisturbed, ever again. Since getting married there was some foreshadowing but nothing like once the kids started walking. Since then I don’t think I have had any peaceful moment in the bathroom.
Early on in our marriage Beautiful has tried to make me feel bad about my use of the bathroom. To hear her tell it I choose the wrong times to go and I spend way too much time in there once I’m in. I have found it best to try and hide my bathroom time from my wife by only going while she is at work. This seems to work well but she will some how still come home for lunch or some other reason and roll her eyes at me with that “of course you’re in the bathroom” look she has. It is uncanny this second sense she has for choosing just the right time to come home.
Even when she doesn’t come home the boys feel like they need to supervise any thing that happens in the bathroom. They can be playing just fine with their trucks on the train table and as soon as they hear that bathroom door shut they come running. They bang on the door and ask what I’m doing in there immediately. I keep coming up with smart ass ways of answering their questions that they obviously know the answer to: “I’m curing cancer, either get a lab coat on or get out of here” “I’m building a bridge but the suspension lines are missing, go check the mail box” “I’m composing a symphony, do you have an oboe?” They are little turdburglers ruining my me time.
So to any new parent out there you may know that things are going to change, but one big thing that will change is your ability to go to the bathroom by yourself. Now you know.
There are a couple of families on our street and a whole lot of kids so often the boys are out playing with their friends through out the day. There are a couple younger kids not in school yet and then a whole bunch that come home after school changing the dynamic of playtime. When the older kids are out the boys move farther away from the house but when the younger kids are here during the morning they stay within two houses. I am often out on the porch listening to them play but I do not have eye contact with them at all times and this bothers some.
Just this past weekend on the Band of SAHD podcast we talked about time spent on twitter was time not spent watching your kids. While I agree there is a danger in spending so much time on line that we neglect real life, I also know that the 1o seconds it took to send that tweet did not put your kids in any more or less harm. The commenter admitted to being a helicopter parent, always hovering, and that is not me. I am aware of the neighborhood, know the people that live on the street, and know where the boys are but I don’t maintain eye contact all the time. Part of that is intentional, giving the kids room to explore their environment on their own, and part of it is just my natural temperament. My kids fall down, eat dirt, and jump from ledges too high to be safe. There is danger still in there world because I think that is important. Not only can’t I protect them from everything, I really have no desire to. I want to protect them from big things, like other people and traffic, while allowing them to work out the smaller dangers themselves.
I want to make it clear that I do not think this makes me a better parent but I am also not a bad parent. I may be a little lazy in my parenting but it is an intentional laziness. I have thought a lot about how and why we do things when it comes to raising our boys and I am fine with people who have come to different conclusions. It just bothers me when those different conclusion lead people to believe I am a bad parent.
Part of the Fatherhood Friday group of blogging Fathers and Mothers over at Dad Blogs. Please click on the image to the left to find more great writing from other bloggers trying to make sense of this whole parenting thing