Father Of The Blog

A Journey Through Fatherhood and Parenting

Father of the Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Daddy Days’

Where No Man Has Gone Before

Each Tuesday during April, Olivia, Hailey and I attended a ‘Mommy and Me’ class at our school district’s early childhood center. Yoga Animal Antics. Too young for the class, Elizabeth Rose sat this one out and luckily my mom was available to watch her.

Each class started off with an animal search and rescue operation. The kids blindly pulled a picture of a missing stuffed animal out of a box and then became responsible for rescuing that “lost” animal.  Once all the hidden animals had been found, the class circled-up for songs, introductions and animal education. All the kids got the green light to go wild mimicking sounds and movements of the animals that they had recovered.

It was then time to do animal impersonations by means of yoga stretches. Each child picked a card that showed an animal and how imitate that animal with a yoga pose. Everyone got a turn leading the class with his or her pose. Cat stretches, down dogs, crab walks and fluttering butterflies, to name a few. The best part of this activity was right at the end, the instructor handed out mini rubber ducks, the kind used for duck races and then we were instructed to lie on our backs and place the duck on our tummies. We had to make the duck go up and down by breathing deeply. Ok, so we were doing shavasan and within seconds of placing the little duck race duck on my stomach I would momentarily fall asleep.

Any parent child class would not be complete without a craft activity and this class was no different. The motif of craft time was wild animals and the favorite had to have been “pigs in the mud,” a couple little people farm pigs tracking chocolate pudding over butcher paper. The class ended with a parachute games and lastly a goodbye song.

I enjoy these classes because, it is less planning for me on daddy days, it is good to get out of the house (before the kiddos destroy it) and we usually learn something new. Olivia, Hailey and I have frequented many of these ‘Mommy and Me’ classes in the past and always have a good experience in doing so. But there is one thing missing from these kinds of classes; the dads. Four years of parent child classes that we have been to only one other dad has been in attendance and he showed with his wife. Note that those were classes during week days.

These parent and child interaction classes aren’t called “Mommy and Me” anymore.  A step in the right direction for a dad who likes to attend such classes and wishes not to feel ostracized by a motley group of alpha mommies. It is hard enough breaking the ice to a room full of glaring women that are wondering what a man is doing with his children in the middle of the work week at mid day committed to a parent child class. Most of the moms are welcoming and warm to the idea of an involved dad in their mist. But there is inevitably a small percent of leery women believing their must be an arterial motive to my presence and these are the ladies that exude the air of exclusion. I don’t let them detour me.

A Child’s Disappointment

A whale in the ocean - Hailey 08Stay at home dad this past Tuesday with Olivia, Hailey and Elizabeth Rose lesson learned:
Setting up the tone, “Daddy Days Are Here Again” to the song
“Happy Days Are Here Again.”  Olivia has a superb new addition to her morning routine, journaling. From the kitchen table she sketches in a spiral bound Strawberry Shortcake branded notebook, supplying me with a brief dictation of the journal entry, currently a narrative mermaid epic, I hastily inscribe a sentence or two. She enjoys creating pictures and appreciates the short bit of time we spend discussing the drawings on a mature level that Hailey either understands and is uninterested or she doesn’t yet comprehend the abstraction. Hailey’s Care Bear note book occasionally gets used and she will scrawl prolific ‘scribble scrabble’ a dub from her big sister. The scribble scrabble is fresh and expressive. I write copy pertaining to Hailey’s Star, or Snakes, or Fish, or Whales and once I received no expletive, instead artistic silence. Olivia's Mermaid

During a breakfast of bagels and cream cheese we discussed the dreary rainy morning. I suggested we go to our community center to make use of the dues we pay and visit the indoor pool. Hailey jumped on the idea and Olivia half heartedly agreed. Free swim wasn’t until noon, so after cleaning up from meal number one of the day, Elizabeth Rose ended up in her crib for nap number one of the day, then it was game time. Hungry Hungry Hippos, Fishing Around, Little (or Littlest) Pet Shop, Hi Ho Cherry O’, Melisa and Doug’s Magnetic Dress Up Princess, honestly, I opted-out on that last one, preparing three backpacks for the pool instead.

At noon the clouds had blown over and the spring sun worked to burn off the dampness. I was feeding Elizabeth Rose bottle number two of the day and Olivia and Hailey were finishing up meal number three of the day. (They snacked on granola shortly after breakfast).  Anticipating our departure for the pool, they were bouncing all over the place, so I sent them to their room to prepare for swimming. Elizabeth Rose had me temporarily immobilized which meant I had to verbally remind them that if they wanted to go to the pool they needed to, “put on swimsuits and get dressed. Socks and Crocks.” Fifteen minutes later, Elizabeth Rose belched out a deep baritone that a horn three times her size would not be able to register. All the little ducky’s in a row and we were out the door.

Twenty minutes later, Olivia and Hailey are disrobing in the locker room.
Me: “Hailey? Did you forget to put your swimsuit on?” She had stripped down to her Hello Kitty’s.
Hailey: Silent.
Me: “Olivia?” She had one arm out of her jacket. “Did you put your swim suit on?”
Olivia: “Ohhh… Daaadeee…”
Hailey: “Daddy! You got my swimsuit?!”
Me: “No Hailey. I don’t”
Hailey: “You put them in my bag!? [backpack]”
Olivia: “Ohhh…Daaadeee!”
Both Olivia and Hailey: “You packed the bag!” I usually stuff my green gym bag with all our swim gear, this time I chose to force them to be a bit more responsible and self sufficient, relying on their back packs. Truthfully, I needed one more hand and one less encumbrance while shuffling Elizabeth Rose around.

Hailey’s distress could be heard throughout the lock room. So close to the pool, the chlorine vapors wafted in, to mix with her cries. I reasoned her out of the emotional furry relatively swiftly by telling her that I knew she wanted to go swimming and that I understood her dissatisfaction. I was on the verge of promising that we could swiftly retrieve their suits and return faster than superman spinning the earth backwards. But I didn’t
Hailey: “We coming back Daddy?”
Me: “No Hailey. We will miss swim.” Hailey did not like my answer and started breaking down again.
Me: “We can do something else” I wasn’t sure what. Pause.
Olivia: “The park?”
Me: “Yes! good idea Sweetie” I had a hunch she may have wanted this. She made a reference to the park during meal number one.
Hailey: “I want to go swimming!”
Me: “Hailey. We can’t do a thing hanging around in this locker room.” That reasoned with her just enough.
Olivia: “C’mon Hailey, we can go to the park. Daddy said.” One of Olivia strengths is in helping her own cause. I was eager to ally and the timing was brilliant.
Me: “What park Hailey?”
Hailey: “I want to go swimming!”
Me: “Well Honey, we have to get to the car before we can do anything, please get dressed, we will talk about it on the way to the car.”
It took Hailey a few minutes to collect herself; Olivia, Elizabeth and I were patient. We slowly made our way out of the building, a preschooler’s walk of shame, across the parking lot to my vehicle and in that time Hailey had agreed with the change in plans.

The park consumed the remainder of the afternoon. Elizabeth Rose napped (number three if you count the ten minute car ride to the park), tucked in the Bjorn. Hailey forgot about swimming as soon as her feet hit the spongy play surface running wild filling her body with fresh spring air. Olivia made friends with a couple of kids in the sand pit, coordinating a dinosaur bone excavation. Obviously those are merely the highlights. They played hard for a good three hours.

Disappointments are tough to sort through especially when under fire. What if I had caved to Hailey’s demands by bending to the will of my children? Would I have been a hero, (retrieving the forgotten swimsuits), rescuing them from misfortune? Or would I be enabling irresponsibility? Explaining to Kim the missed swim opportunity situation at the dinner table that night both Olivia and Hailey (meal number five) said they forgot to put their suits on.