Monday, April 23, 2012

Trading Places

This weekend I took some much-appreciated time off and went on an adventure to Amsterdam with a girlfriend. Big R got to do some important father-son bonding all weekend long. I thought it would be fun to share the details of that bonding time through Big R's words. So here you have a recap from the man himself - I hope you enjoy this guest blog from my wonderful hubby.

Until this weekend, little r and his mommy have only been separated for a night, and never more than 36 hours or so. That surprised me quite a bit, but then again I have spent many nights apart from both of them - between conferences, trials, and the big move last summer.

As my wife eloquently articulates through this blog, caring for a toddler can be exhausting. Recently, I've sensed that despite having a mind stimulated by fitness challenges and our own family trips my wife's sense of sanity was beginning to be tested by the throes of little r's terrible twos and having to be the adult responsible for running the household while I drown in a sea of motions, victim interviews, and clients (she, in contrast, drowns in laundry, grocery bags, and spends a great deal of time each day disposing of excrement...). When I saw a flyer for a bus trip to Amsterdam, I knew that it could be just the remedy - the fact that another Trial Defense spouse was able to go too made it even better.

This guest entry isn't about Amsterdam though, it's about my weekend alone with little r. The two or three "are you sure you'll be okays?" I got were only half serious, but my weekend plans were going to test the toddler. On Saturday, after an early morning wakeup little r and I watched episodes of the US version of Top Gear, walked the dog, and then got ready for our trip to Nuremberg. Nuremberg hosts a spring volksfest, sort of an Oktoberfest-lite, near the site of the old Nazi party rally grounds (also repurposed into a race course, museum, and soccer stadium). The fest had the beer tents of course, but the big draw for a toddler is the rides (and getting there, too)! We took a bus, then a train, and then a tram to get there. Little r is obsessed with vehicles, so it was a pretty easy trip -- until we got to Nuremberg.

It was a soccer game day. The Germans love soccer. They drink. They sing. They travel in packs. The main train station was a madhouse, and we got there right as someone needed a nap. Thankfully, a pretzel, some gummy bears, and the back up blankee kept little r placated long enough to get to the fest. When we arrived, little r marvelled at the "sit down wheel" (ferris wheel), the trampolines, and the balloon stand. Walking in there is a bit of visual stimulation for a 2 1/2 year old to say the least.

In the past, rides have been a mixed bag for us with little r. He loves them, is cute on them, but when they stop there is inevitably a tantrum. I was warned to expect some collossal meltdowns based upon how the week went, but we avoided them. Patience, having a distraction ("look a pony!," "look a car!," "look ice cream!"), and bribery seem to help smooth things over. Sometimes though, pulling the "daddy card" and saying "no" and not relenting works, too. All told, the trip was a success, and I had one very happy little bear on my hands:

Sunday was a quieter day spent at home, with our only break being a dog walk up the hill. We talked to family by Skype, watched Pooh Bear, played with trains, and stopped for regularly scheduled feedings and diaper changes. It was a pretty unexceptional day, except for the observations and conclusions I reached:

1. Nothing makes little r's mood go south faster than realizing Mommy isn't home. Not even gummy bear bribery can overcome the wimpering, lip shaking, "where'd Mommy go?"

2. A full day with little r is a full time job. Add to that a dog and two cats (one being exceptionally needy) and it is hard to focus at times. Your schedule is no longer yours, and even though I didn't do anything physically demanding I was tired both days.

3. I like playing with toy trains and cars more than I want to admit.

4. Someone needs to invent the Roomba for diaper changes. I do change diapers, however, my schedule means I am usually limited to dealing with the "easy" ones. Dealing with the "not so easy" ones for two full days is a poignant reminder of the crap my wife has to deal with every day. Also, since our apartment has a urinal I am vexed by why we don;t have a bidet as well -- we should be fully equipped -- it would make the process of cleaning a toddler much easier!

5. I miss my wife. Dealing with all of the responsibilities our day to day life entails is tough work without her there to play the role of field marshall, even if I am doing the work. Now I understand why we sometimes run out of beer in the house, but we never run out of wine!

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