For real, I’ve never really been afraid of a lot things. Horses and heights come to mind, but I got over those fears. More recently, though, one thing scared me more than anything else:
Extended time on my own with both kids.
I mean, my kids are my world, I love spending time with them. Don’t get it twisted. Thing is, before having kids, I honestly wouldn’t even hold other people’s babies, because I was worried that I would drop them.
So yeah, the first few months of Brax’s life, with a fresh child and everything being new, I was petrified at being alone with him. What was I supposed to do to entertain him? How do you stop his crying? The little guy was helpless and was totally dependent on me to take care of him. Holy nerve-wracking! It took a while, but it did eventually get to the point where K could go out comfortably and not to worry that she would come home to any serious damage/ injuries. B would be fine, too.
Then, when J was born, those old fear feelings came back. You gotta be on point 100% of the time with kids. You turn your head for one moment, and things could get real ugly, real fast, for real. Kids like to explore and do the most illogical, nonsensical stuff, so you need to watch them like a hawk constantly. While I’m helping one with their jacket, the other one will sprint off towards an open door. I leave the table to get them drinks, I come back, and they’re standing on their chairs leaning far forward, like they’re re-enacting Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal video.
That’s the basis for my fear, I think. They’re little maniacs. I don’t want them to get hurt on my watch, and I worry a lot about the consequences and ramifications if they do.
When it’s just me with the kids nowadays for a few hours, my gameplan involves staying home. Ahhh, home. A nice, safe confined setting. But, occasionally, K is gonzo for an extended period of time. When this happens, more often than not, the kids go stir crazy hanging out in the house all day, and I need to get them out. That involves leaving my comfort zone to go with them…on an outing.
Like I said, I do enjoy doing things with the family. But man, even with two parents, the process of getting ready, packing diaper bags, and even putting on their shoes is an ordeal. Then while we are out and about, it’s always an ordeal, never relaxing. I know, I know, as long as the kids have fun, that’s all that matters!! But eliminate one parent from the equation so the remaining one is outnumbered by the kids? You better batten down the hatches, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
Here’s an example. Our daycare provider went on vacation for a week, so K and I and some other family members took turns taking time off from work or whatever to watch B and J. How’d my day go? Well…. First, in the morning, while trying to get ready to leave, B was watching Youtube videos on the Playbook:
B – ‘Go away. I’m busy.’
Me – ‘Busy doing what?’
B – ‘I’m doing my job.’
Me – ‘What’s your job??’
B – ‘Watching this!’
Huh? He’s too young to be smarmy and indignant! I blame that jerk Max, from Max and Ruby for the attitude, by the way. Jeez, my disdain for that show is a post for another day.
Anyway, he did finish his job, and we could go…. But before we left, I went to our room to get my keys, and I heard a high pitched blood curdling scream. Yeah, remember what I said about my fear of them getting hurt? I thought J was injured, so I rushed to see what happened.
Instant worst case scenarios flashed through my head. It was just B, fortunately, who screamed, not J. He saw an ant. Anyway, we did head out after that terrifying incident.
Our trip took us to an indoor play gym (or as my one friend calls them – playgerms). In theory, great idea. Just put the kids down, let them run amok, and I would join the other parents on parent’s row. You know, that area in every play gym where the dads sit around in tweed jackets, smoking pipes and reading the Wall Street Journal with their monocles. Or not. I don’t know what goes on in parent’s row, because I’ve never been there. In actuality, I always end up chasing the kids around, and playing with toys, and trying to make sure that they don’t hurt themselves by falling the wrong way down the climby things. It really is a good workout. Anyway, besides all that, while we were there, J, who had been sorta been walking previously, but just in baby steps (taking a few steps on her own before desperately seeking something to grab onto for balance, that type of deal) saw the other babies there walking by themselves. She succumbed to peer pressure, and spent the rest of the day walking on her own too. Peer pressure, that’s what I’m talking about!
Also these conversations happened:
B – ‘Well, there’s good news and there’s bad news.’
Me – ‘What’s the good news?’
B (takes my hat) – ‘I found your hat!’
Me – ‘Thanks? What’s the bad news?’
B – ‘Woody’s not coming back.’
B – ‘Dad, you’re bad.’
Me – ‘What did I do??’
B – ‘You hit me!’
Me – ‘No I didn’t!’
B – ‘Yeah you did, last week!’
Me – ‘No I didn’t!!’
B – ‘Yeah, you pretend hit me last week!’
Argh! I never touch him, and I don’t know what pretend hitting is. You might have noticed that B has a pretty vivid imagination. Luckily, no one heard this exchange either. What’s up with that? It’s like my kids enjoy making me uncomfortable. I remember one time, B walked out to the porch while we were trying to get ready to leave, and started screaming ‘HELP!’ for no good reason. Whatever. We left the play gym, and it was onto the next one, as Jay-z says.
While driving, we passed a husky looking boy with long hair and man bosoms:
B – ‘Why does that girl have a big tummy?’
Me – ‘Uhh….that’s a boy. Maybe he has a slow metabolism?’
B – ‘I have a big tummy too! I eat a lot!’
We ended up going to an Early Years Centre. These places are sweet. Government run centres where parents/caregivers can go take their kids, and there’s a bunch of activities and programs to take part in. And they’re free. AND it’s crawling with professional, trained, child care people. Even a clueless dummy like can have a sense of calm that the kids will be OK. As a way to get out and kill some time, it’s a nice option. We went there, and the kids were doing their thing. Playing with toys, messing around in the sand station, and so on. It was getting close to closing time, and of course B didn’t want to leave, and was being stubborn about it. Remember what I was saying about them making me uncomfortable? Yeah openly and loudly disobeying me in public definitely qualifies. Don’t you just love when you have to put on a show in front of other people, so you don’t look like a bad parent? And then, when it doesn’t work, you just do whatever you can to curtail the situation instead? No? Maybe that’s just me then?
Actually, knock on wood, I haven’t yet been that person storming out of Walmart holding their screaming kid on their shoulder like a 2×4 piece of lumber (K on the other hand, that’s a different story).
Anyway, to get him to leave, I bribed him with the incentive that we’d go for treats if we left right then. He insisted on ice cream. Insisted. So we went and got some. He of course dozed off in the car after we got it, because that is totally what you do when you’re excited for something, so I had to frantically monitor the melting ice cream situation while driving. I wasn’t very unsuccessful. The steering wheel ended up pretty sticky. We got back to the house, and ate in the backyard, because it was such a nice day. B got it all over his face and hands, and started complaining that he was cold. His teeth started chattering, he started shaking like he’s a Polaroid picture.
He dropped the ice cream, freaked out, cried hysterically. Awesome. Had to go inside, change him, and wrap him in a blanket.
B – ‘Now can I have my ice cream back?’
Sigh. You know, after writing this, maybe I take it back.
Sometimes spending lots of quality time together on my own with my maniacs can be pretty cool. I think what I fear the most now, though….is for my sanity as B and J grow up.