A long time ago when my better half and i were first dating, i up and quit my job, because it didn’t satisfy me. It paid well, but i was finding myself bored and frustrated. Since i was planning on doing some traveling anyway, i just up and quit, and explained to her that i would just become a hobo. The unemployment didn’t last very long, really, but the epithet stuck.
Years later, i find myself away from my job again, embracing my former hobo ways and teaching them to my infant son with varying degrees of success. Put another way, being on paternity leave is weird. It’s weird to be sitting at home in the middle of a workday, knowing my desk, my job, and my colleagues are all chugging along, but feeling no pressure to deal with any of it. Very happily, i don’t have to, and have instead this brief opportunity to just have this one thing to do, to take care of the little guy.
So what do we do with our days? They fill up, that’s for sure.
- It seems likely that anyone who watched a video of me playing with the man would probably wind up questioning my sanity. Actually i’m pretty sure that if i saw myself, i’d wonder just what the hell i was thinking. It becomes quite literally anything-for-a-laugh. During the morning, it doesn’t take much, and as the meter runs low toward the end of the day things become a bit more desperate.
- Not that he’s remotely difficult, but i guess there’s a natural tendency towards being eager to please your little guy, so i find myself jumping up and down, hiding, crawling, singing songs (both correctly and with made-up lyrics that go increasingly off the rails with every passing verse), making faces, making noises, wandering the house, staring at the sky, waggling toys, picking him up, moving him around…
- Whatever works.
- We spend a decent amount of time exploring the city, too. Lately there’s been a pretty marked increase in the time it takes us to get us out of the house, what with our little man needing an increasing number of layers which he doesn’t want and tiny hats and gloves which he doesn’t want. In general though we try to be prepared to bounce, to go out and bring the man to his mom for lunch, to go to the North End to get more coffee (because someone tried to murder our coffee maker and someone decided to try being nocturnal for a night), to go meet friends playing hooky, go protest the end of the republic, or systematically walk down streets we’ve never been on, or go hit up all those lunch spots that i never get to while working because i just don’t spare the time. He’s got the time, i’ve got the time. Until days like today, where the howling winter winds were not his favorite thing. Maybe our exploring will just be the Copley mall from now on and he’ll grow up having expensive, horrible taste.
- Napping. My assignment for these weeks is to get the kid from being a lap sleeper to being actually put down for naps. Reckon i probably get a C+ on this right now, in that i get him down, but he sleeps shittily. So to make amends for this we are back on the lap later in the day where he sleeps soundly and adorably. And i read Twitter or something. But we’re working on it, grudgingly. Even though he’s enormous, there are worse things than having a little dude snuggle on you.
- The nice thing is, cleaning and other household mundanity passes for entertainment for him. So long as i’m talking about what i’m doing, he is fascinated by it. Especially if there are moving things, lights, noises, a change of setting. He doesn’t know it’s work. Also he’s great at home improvement:
- Lifting. Dude is 22 pounds at just over four months. You spend a lot of time picking him up, putting him down, holding him up to let him try standing (the sooner the better, man, except don’t), lifting him up to play with you. It’s a lot to ask of a busted shoulder.
- Watching the cat has also become a thing in the last week or so, and the feeling is mutual. Our selectively-aloof cat has become very invested in our little man’s well-being. If he’s yelling, you can bet she’s either checking on him, visibly concerned, or coming to let me know i’m a lousy parent, often both. She looks in on his bassinet, curls up on his toys (and i don’t think it’s just territoriality anymore), and gently sniffs him when he’s not flailing. This, at long last, is a good kitty.
- And then of course there is troubleshooting. Does that grunting mean he’s pooping or has he learned to fake it (yes, he has) for some reason? If we’re stuck on 93 for a further 15 minutes and he’s blowing up and i can’t get off, just what can be done (i don’t dare try plugging in the pacifier in motion, but playing with the car’s interior lights moves him away from redlining for a little bit)? Is he cold in the carrier or just twitchy because he wants out (it’s always the latter)? Is he bored with this toy (possibly) and is a change of setting needed (a reliable tactic)?
But anyway have i learned anything? Sure.
Things he likes*:
- Standing and walking directly on my chest
- Watching raindrops in puddles
- Flirting with strangers
- Fish-hooking his pacifier out of his mouth and cursing its sudden absence
- Swiveling his head wildly while eating and wondering why the food is everywhere but his mouth, shouting something to the effect of it being everyone’s fault but his
- The sky
- Our (i have to share it now) stuffed talking Porg
- Bricks and other sharply-defined patterns
- Watching the kitty
- The TV (so we rarely have it on just yet (except we both watch soccer on the weekend))
- Watching videos of himself on the phone
- His reflection
- Most electronic music, Hall & Oates, Bowie, James Brown, They Might Be Giants, ‘Brass Bonanza‘ (you can add a lot of stupid lyrics to that tune), and the Trololo song.
- Putting the incoming clean diaper on his face (okay, at first he didn’t like it but i wore him down)
Things he dislikes*:
- The wind
- The sun
- Republicans (i can’t prove that)
- His car seat, which he is now bigger than