Monday, December 14, 2009
It wasn't always the paradise described above. I remember a time in the beginning where I contemplated not going at all. My first playgroup was at the group organizer's home and she was very pleasant and welcoming. The other moms trickled in over the next few minutes and before long the living room floor was packed with newborns, pre-toddlers, moms and me. Another dad actually showed up to. I was impressed! Maybe this playgroup thing will work out. That jubilation didn't last long. This playgroup was his first and last. I would have to be the lone representative for all stay-at-home-dad's everywhere.
The conversation quickly turned to breastfeeding. This didn't bother me so much because my wife was breastfeeding and I was somewhat use to it. Then, actual breastfeeding started to happen with one of the moms sitting a few people away. I panicked. My first thought was to look away. My second was, maybe she overlooked me and doesn't realize I'm here. Perhaps I should make an announcement that I am actually in the room. Then another mom right next to me started to breastfeed. Again, I quickly diverted my eyes in another direction. Then another mom began and another and another. Before long, most of the moms in the room were breastfeeding and I was alternating my eyesight from floor to ceiling and back again. I thought, I have to get out of here before my eyes explode.
Just then, the mom next to me asked if I minded that she was breastfeeding. Of course I said it was okay and thought she needs to do what she needs to do for her infant. I then thought of my wife and what she has to put up with when she breastfeeds in public. I was being selfish with these women. Their only doing what comes natural between mother and child.
After a few playgroups I decided to join the conversation and not be the quiet guy in the corner potentially making these women fell uncomfortable. Of course, not knowing much about reality TV, clothing sizes and pedicures(not stereo-typing, this is what they were talking about), I gambled and started to talk about baseball. Surprisingly enough, a few of the moms took interest and before long, we were talking stats, batting averages and who should be traded. It was like I was slamming back beers with the guys in a bar.
I really enjoy my new found friends at playgroup. We meet all over the place now, parks, museums, restaurants, and this week, we're going to a pumpkin patch that has rides and a petting zoo for the children. It's opened my eyes to a whole new world. I know this may sound boring to some dads, but this is our life now. It's no longer about us, so embrace it.
I appreciate your interest.
We decided to order our daughter a grilled cheese sandwich for the first time (she's one) and let her feed herself. As you can imagine, it was a little messy. Instead of saying "Dad, I'm full and will not be finishing my plate" (again, she's one), she decided to start tossing her food onto the floor under our table. Since we are not mind-readers, we assumed she was just being a little fussy trying a new food and all, and continued to encourage her to finish her plate. More grilled cheese pieces on the floor.
After we finished our meal and paid the bill, a good amount of grilled cheese had piled up on the floor. As my friends and family headed outside the restaurant, I decided to stay behind and pickup the grilled cheese pieces that had fallen/tossed to the floor. While picking them up a pair of hands came into view and moved the high chair out of the way so I could easier finish my task. As I turned my head into the direction of the waiter, I noticed 3 other waiters/waitresses staring at me. I decided one of two things: they had never seen a customer cleaning up after themselves, or they thought less work for "me". In either case, it was the right thing to do.
I remember once I was seated next to a table of three mothers, five children and a pile of food, napkins, silverware and glass under their table. As they were all leaving the restaurant, I decided at that point I would never be one of those parents. Of course we all get busy and sometimes need to skip certain steps during the day, but a general rule of good common courtesy should be followed. I did decide to give the mothers the benefit of the doubt. I'm sure they were busy like the rest of us, but I quickly retracted that thought as I was leaving the restaurant and saw that they were engaged in conversation 20 minutes later.
Of course a one year old probably wouldn't understand the nuances of etiquette and common courtesy but that's the point. When do you teach these golden rules? 15 months? 22 months? We don't know. Again, we're not mind-readers. So I say teach your child about good manners as soon as possible. It's easier to err on the side of caution.
I appreciate your interest.
Friday, December 11, 2009
My wife and I were in London recently. I tagged along on the tail end of her business trip. It was great! We hit the usual stuff: Big Ben, the British Museum, Harrod's and Hyde Park. We also had some great date nights and awesome dinners, but I couldn't stop thinking about our daughter. I had dropped her off with her grandparents in San Diego before heading across the pond. This was the first time I was away from her and I have to admit that it was a little difficult. I kept wondering what she was doing at the exact moment I was thinking about her.
So I confided in my wife that I missed our little girl and was thinking about her a lot. My wife went into her purse and pulled out the smallest photo album I had ever seen. It couldn't have held more than 10 photos. I had been in my wife's purse - before at her request - to retrieve car keys or a credit card, but had never noticed the photo album. Guys aren't exactly looking to hang out in the wives purses. We want to be in and out of there as quick as possible, so as not to be seen. (Am I right guys?)
I opened the photo album and inside were pictures of our daughter and me, and even a few of our dog. My wife told me she never leaves home without it and she looks at it often when she is back at the hotel room after a long day of meetings while on business trips. I immediately felt better.
In our digital age it's nice to have photos on your computer or your iPhone, but nothing beats an actual photo of the person you love and being able to hold it in your hands. We had a nice moment together, my wife and I, just looking at the pictures and remembering when they were taken and how our daughter has grown over the last year.
I now carry a picture of my family in my wallet. I know that's totally old-fashioned, but that's okay.
I appreciate your interest.