Monday, February 8, 2010

Man at Work

Ahh, the joys the Internet.

I was trying to follow-up my not-so-clever title with some lyrics by the 1980's Australian rock band, maybe an explanation of why "women glow and men plunder." Instead, I stumble upon a site that claims Vegemite, a popular Australian bread spread, was deemed illegal in the United States because it contains folate, which we only allow in breads and cereals. Now those of you who have tried Vegemite are either thinking, "Awesome, that stuff should illegal," or "That's a crime in itself. Free Vegemite." Those of you who haven't tried it are probably thinking, "Who gives a shit? Don't stay-at-home dads have anything better to do?" The answers are: it's an urban legend, Vegemite is awesome, and yes we do have better things to do.

Here are some of the highlights from my first week of stay-at-home dad-ing/child care sharing:

1. Monday: Since it was my first full day with Amari, I tried to keep parts of Carrie's routine while infusing my own original flare. This was made easier when she took the laptop with the soundtrack to "Flashdance" with her. This meant DJ Jazzy Dad could spin his own 80's dance party which started out with Men at Work and Depeche Mode (the dance part), then wound down with Paul Young (calisthenics and stretching). When Amari was almost as exhausted as I was we transitioned to guitar. I played and she stared, smiled, and babbled occasionally during the choruses. We have a lot of work to do on the harmonies, but I'm optimistic that when she actually has control of her arms, she will play a wicked lead ax.

2. Tuesday: When I picked Amari up at Nicoles, everyone still looked happy and sane. I was worried about how her daughter, Reya, would feel about her mom's attention being so divided. Apparently it went really well except when Nicole spread one of Reya's blankets out for Amari to lie on. Reya took one look at the blanket, walked over, and said, "Mine" before performing her best tablecloth trick imitation. As she jerked on the blanket, an unsuspecting and unaffected Amari rolled like log onto the carpet. Funny stuff.

3. Wednesday: As I left our house in the morning, Granny C was beginning her childcare shift by placing Amari into a car seat which she then placed into a wheelbarrow and rolled up and down the driveway as the dogs followed closely at her heels. When I arrived home, not only was Amari clean and changed, but Granny C had typed up a log of everything they'd done since I left. It was very sweet and thoughtful.

4. Thursday: Although Amari didn't sleep much on Wednesday night, she evidently made up for lost time with Susan. I was glad it was easy, yet hoped it wasn't too boring. When Susan handed Amari back to me, her three-year-old son, Liam, said, "Look mommy, she's in her daddy's arms again," as though it were the best place she could possibly be. I love that kid. So precocious and sensitive.

5. Friday: Walking on the coast with new friend and fellow stay-at-home dad, Jim. Although Jim has been telling me about a Mom's Club that rules the coastal walkway, we encountered zero moms on our walk, which made it even easier to talk about how we would totally beat them in a Dad's Club vs. Mom's Club intramural strollathon. Bottle-feeding pit stops are much quicker than breastfeeding. On the way to meet Jim, Amari was a little noisy in the car, so I said, "Are you mad? You know what makes me feel better when I'm upset? Listening to Alanis Morrisette." I'm clearly trying to break the gender stereotypes as well as the gender social rolls.

6. Saturday: Amari and I took off for the day to give mom some time to catch up on prep work for school. We left early and headed to what people in the boonies call "The City." That's right - Ukiah. Scary. That's barely a town. For me it's just a meeting point. The ride was smooth (she's a really good traveler) save for a few tears in Willits. "Everyone hates Willits," my friend Sil consoled Amari when we arrived for breakfast. He's right, and we took Hwy 128 back home just to avoid it. Breakfast with Sil and Sarah was wonderful - like an old conversation continued with an adorable new participant who takes up almost all of our attention. On the way home we stopped to watch some basketball, but after a couple of games the florescent lights, squeaky shoes, echoing voices, and horrible rap music began to wear on both Amari and I  and we headed home to call.

7. Sunday: We went a Super Bowl party, which was kind of like calling Ukiah a city. A lot of non-sports-fans canceled at the last minute so there were just five of us plus infants. I picked the Colts, but Amari took the Saints and the points which makes her 1-0 in our lifelong battle in sports prognostication. I didn't actually have a horse in the race, which led me to wager on things like first Kim Kardashian siting, second Eli Manning fist pump, and best commercial after each quarter. I ended up losing two dollars when The Who left out the theme song to CSI Miami. Senile motherfuckers.

Don't worry - the weeks won't all be this detailed. I just wanted to make sure I capture some of the memorable pieces, because I'm probably going to end up as senile as a 1960's rock band. Ironically, Vegemite has been found to help alleviate these symptoms of aging.

I know from recent experience that once I get used to a new routine the days, weeks, and months begin to blur together. After seven days of doing a little bit of both, the one thing I know for sure is that a full day of parenting is both more demanding and more rewarding than my day job. I'm lucky I get to do both.

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