Friday, June 30, 2006

Back to Regular Dad

I know that ticklish spot, right under Oliver's chin, and I know that when I tickle it with my bare toe just right, he goes spasmy with giggles.

I know that sometimes, his favorite thing is rolling across the floor like a log going down a hill. And that, if I gently nudge him with my foot, he'll roll and roll until he hits the window, softly giggling the whole time.

I know that he takes his naps almost like clockwork at 9 am and at 3 pm.

I know that he loves aquariums. And peekaboo. And watching birds. And watching the construction trucks that stream by our apartment. And anyone walking by our window.

I know that he smiles and occasionally waves at strangers. And he flirts with every woman who works at the grocery store, and they all flirt right back.

I know that when I eat snacks, I'd better put down a handful of Cheddar Bunnies or Veggie Booty for him, or else he'll get resentful.

I know that my little boy loves me. I know this. I know if I lay on the floor, sometimes he crawls right up to me and puts his little head against my chest for a few moments. If I'm really lucky, he'll crawl up to my face and give me a wet, sloppy, open-mouthed gooey kiss right on the lips. And that's the best thing ever.

Today is the last day I get to be a stay-at-home dad.

Mrs. B came home tonight and began her summer vacation, which is (unfairly) only six weeks. She gets a month and a half to be the primary caregiver for Oliver, while I try to find myself some gainful employment. And then, when the fall comes, both she and I will go to work, and Oliver will go to the day care seven blocks from our house.

I think back to those early days, when I worried if I was ever going to get the hang of taking care of him all day. (Actually, that first day, I was really worried if he was ever going to take a bottle from me.) Naps worried me. Feedings frightened me. I was constantly worried that I would poke him in the eye, or drop him, or something similarly awful.

And here we are, ten months later. Naps don't scare me any more. The bottles aren't even an issue anymore. We do two meals a day, two naps, hours of playing, and sometimes I'm exhausted and nap while he does and sometimes I don't even bother. I can keep up with him. He doesn't scare me anymore.

It's been nearly a year that I've been taking care of him, and we've grown so much together. I feel privileged to have had this much time with him, that we've been able to afford (barely) to do this. I have a bond with our little boy that not enough fathers get. My own father never had the connection with us from the early days that I get to have with Oliver.

Now I have to readjust to being just a regular working dad, one that drops his kid off at daycare in the morning and sees him at night for dinner and sleep. (Actually, the daycare won't start until late August, but stick with me, folks, I'm on a roll.) I won't get to see him play during the day, giddily tearing through his books or tossing around his blocks, one by one, with a squeal of glee every time one flies into the air. Those moments will just be on the weekends.

I'll miss all the intensive time with him. Hours of playing on the floor, hundreds of books read, balls tossed, blocks stacked and tumbled, messes made and cleaned and made again. I won't miss the problems: the difficult naps, the teething miseries, the days of complete distraction where he couldn't do anything for five minutes without screaming in frustration.

Well - I say I won't miss that. But I will. Because when things went wrong, I was the only one he had during the day to make things better, and almost always, I figured out how to make it better. I got him to sleep. I provided teethers and (before he had actual teeth) my fingers to soothe his aching gums. I found ways to keep him entertained. I figured out how to be his parent, the caretaker, the one he relied on. I learned how to take care of him, and he learned to trust me.

I don't ever want him to forget how much that time meant to me. I know I will never forget it.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Sleater-Kinney - the End of the Road

Sleater-Kinney is breaking up. The website says it's an "indefinite hiatus," but I know a euphemism when I read it. They're done. Corin Tucker will move to widely acclaimed and occasionally misunderstood solo albums. Carrie will throw down as a guest artist on albums by Pearl Jam, the Gossip, and the Queens of the Stone Age. Janet Weiss will still play with Quasi, and some other group will have the good sense to sweep her up. She may be the only drummer strong enough to replace Matt Cameron, should he ever leave Pearl Jam.

Sleater-Kinney is breaking up. They released the most unexpected and devastating record of their career, the one that makes everything else look like an elementary school project. Then they folded up the tent. I'm left with a new sense of sadness every time I hear the blowtorch opening of "The Fox" or the vicious interplay of "Entertain." This was the last album by this band. This was the one that killed them.

I've been comforting myself with overload. I've been watching clips of them on the Henry Rollins show and live segments off the website. I'm listening to two live concerts from 2005 posted here (and my sincere gratitude goes out to the host. The cover of "Fortunate Son" is a gem, and the retooled versions of old songs are remarkable.) I've been reading their biography off the website, the birth I missed, even though I'm out in the land of evergreens and coffee. I didn't pick up on S-K until "The Hot Rock," and I didn't really hear them until "All Hands on the Bad One." And then I was hooked. I explored their catalog backwards, only recently hearing their remarkable debut album. I've only seen them once, during the AHOABO tour, playing a 1/3-full Key Arena and blowing the lid off it.

It's a week of transition here at Casa Bluesky, and it only hit me yesterday. This is the last week I'll be home with Oliver full time. Next week, Mrs. B comes home, and hopefully, I'll be working somewhere, either temping it or suddenly seizing a full-time gig. We have today and tomorrow, and then it's over. I'll talk more about this in a later posting. (I'm not ready yet.)

So what I'm doing today is project all of my emotions of loss and sadness about ending my stay-at-home tenure into my sadness about losing Sleater-Kinney. That's the only explanation for why I started getting weepy halfway through the (weird, foresty, blurry) video for "Entertain." That's gotta be it.

I saw something online that suggested that Le Tigre might be breaking up, too. If that's true, I'm just gonna fall apart.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Off to Boston

Hey, faithful reader(s),

Me and Mrs. B are flying to Boston tomorrow morning for the wedding of Mrs. B's sister. We'll be gone until next Tuesday, so the blog may be quieter than usual. Slightly.

It'll be the first plane trip of Oliver's young life. We've got layovers coming and going - one short flight and one looooooooooooooong one. If all works well, little O will sleep and eat snacks and play peek-a-boo with the people sitting across from us, and he'll be adorable.

If not ...

Well, wish us luck.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Asleep in Daddy's Arms

Asleep in Daddy's Arms
Originally uploaded by Sky Bluesky.
An entire year of this. Bouncy bouncy bouncy.

You can't see it, but I'm sitting on a giant red balance ball, of the type sold in sporting good stores and used in innumerable exercise classes.

I have lost an inch off my waist. My arms are more toned now than at any time since high school, and my shoulders are broader. I think this should be an official exercise regimen:

The Baby Exercise Routine

1) Get a long pillowcase. Buy twenty five pounds of stuffing - buckwheat, couscous, flour, it doesn't matter what as long as it's the right weight.

2) Fill the pillowcase with your stuffing. Sew it shut, making sure that the stuffing is equally distributed, more or less. If one end is heavier than the other, label it "head." Label the other side "feet."

3) Write down the following numbers:


Write down each of these numbers on a piece of paper. Every time you exercise, draw one of these numbers out of a hat. This will be the amount of time you exercise.

4) Get a balance ball. Place it in your bedroom, at the foot of the bed.

5) Every four hours, get your pillowcase (just for kicks, call it "the baby") and sit on the balance ball, balancing "the baby" across your outstretched arms. "The baby" should be resting on the insides of your elbows, with the weight mostly on your forearms and biceps.

5) Bounce with "the baby," keeping the "head" and "feet" level. If you really want a challenge, sew a bubble level into the center of your pillowcase and watch the bubble. If it moves out of the center lines, stop and start again.

6) After you've bounced for the proper amount of time, stand up with your "baby," continuing to keep the "head" and "feet" level. Place your "baby" gingerly on your bed. If at any point, the "head" and "feet" are not level, get back on the ball and bounce again.

7) For a change of pace, try this additional step. Once a week (on random days), draw two numbers out of the hat. Use the first number and bounce for this amount of time. Put down your "baby," and leave the room for five minutes. Go back, pick up your "baby," and bounce again for the amount of time on the second piece of paper.

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Freaks of Father's Day

"None of us at-home fathers go into it in order to be some sort of social role model... We don't deserve medals. At least not for that. If anything, the correct response from people would be a completely neutral one. But we do have to put up with some shit from the less enlightened crowd, and face some additional obstacles in a mom-centric world. For that, a pat on the back once in a while can be nice, but is not required."

Just in time for Father's Day, there's a fun and insightful article up at highlighting the plight of stay-at-home dads. (Yes, that's right, I said "plight." It's the most rewarding thing I've ever done, but sometimes, friends, it's damn hard. And frustrating. And solitary.) Anyway, go read the article.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Walking for the First Time

As one of his birthday presents, Oliver got a little wagon (officially, it's called a Toddler Wobbler, which seems prescient) that could be used as a walker. The wheels have adjustable brakes so it doesn't go flying out from under him, and it's just the perfect height for him.

Oliver had it for a week or so and didn't seem to know what to do with it. He put toys into it and pull them out, and sometimes he would push it across the floor with his hand.

Then, suddenly, one night he climbed up, grabbed the back of the wagon...

and he was off, wobbling his way across the living room. We were stunned at how quickly he went, and how eager he was to walk once he figured out how to do it.

He made probably a dozen laps, back and forth, across the living room, stopping only when he hit a wall or another obstruction.

Then his legs started getting wobbly. He still didn't stop. Didn't stop, even when he could no longer stand up and he would push the wagon on his knees. Didn't actually stop until we took him away from the wagon, and he fought us even then.

So now we've got an official toddler. He's compelled to walk now, the same way he was when he first learned to crawl. The urge is so powerful that we have to hide his wagon so he won't just walk back and forth all day. Then he'll just take the laundry basket, or the Incrediblock seem above, and use them as quasi-walkers. To hilarious effect.

Bonus! If you go here, you'll be able to see a very grainy and in-your-face video of the boy walking on his little waddly legs. Enjoy.