Love me some daddy time

And now we’re on Day 4 of N’s trip to Colorado with me at home with Boo and the Troll and Riley.  Still not sure who got the better end of that deal between the delay leaving, dust storms, missed exits, etc vs toxic diapers, cranky baby and the neediest dog I have ever owned.  On the bright side things seem to be going well for all concerned.  Only 5 more days to go.

So to back up, it’s been a while since I posted.  In my defense it has been a little crazy like I said before.  After our vacation we got back just in time to start helping plan our annual congregational 4th of July party.  One of the joys of being a bi-vocational pastor (even a co-pastor) is that weekends don’t really mean time off from work, you just switch hats.  Anyway, we managed to get that off without a hitch but when it came time for the city fireworks show we all discovered, Boo included, that Boo does not like fireworks exploding…anywhere.  Whether she can hear them or not.  Neither does the dog for that matter.

4th of July
4th of July

As a result, instead of a fun-filled night of hot-dogs, fireworks and fun with the family we ended up running around like chickens with our heads cut off taking the baby and the dog back home before curling up on the sofa to a nice episode (or three) of Cat in the Hat Knows That on Netflix.  Ah….  The joys of parenthood.

The next week passed by in a bit of a blur as we readied ourselves for N’s trek to Colorado.  It’s not the first time I have taken care of Boo by myself while N is out of town, nor is it even the first time I have been a single parent.  But it’s been a loooooong time since I had to watch a toddler 24/7 without a break except for work and I had forgotten how exciting and how exhausting it can be.

It's more fun to eat with your hands.
It’s more fun to eat with your hands.

Since N left, we have gone to the city water park, survived church, built and played in our new water table, helped daddy do laundry and cook dinner and thus far at least…not burned the house down or gotten injured.  In my book, that’s a win.  I’ve even managed to get the child to eat some meat which, honestly, how does anybody get picky eaters to munch on stuff they don’t like (i.e. MEAT….I can’t believe I’m raising a vegetarian)

Dancing in the park

I did manage to avoid one major daddy snafu the other day fortunately…mostly thanks to the grace of auto-correct.  I know I know… grace isn’t usually the first word that comes to mind when we discuss auto-correct but in messing up my text to N about how we were all doing I managed to avoid unintentionally insulting her by telling her Boo wasn’t missing her.  As I have heard from a number of mothers since, it’s a good thing the text didn’t go or I might not still be breathing…or married.  Fortunately N has a pretty good sense of humor so when I tell her this story…well…  if more than 8 weeks go by and you don’t hear from me, I’m not saying anything HAS happened, but….

Like I’ve said before, we’re together until I die or she kills me, and now that’s true for both N and me and Boo and me.

Cuddle time with daddy
Cuddle time with daddy
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Hospitals and Anniversaries

I spent most of the day at the hospital with my family, waiting to hear if my sister really had suffered from a heart-attack.  When I got the message from my mother I sat stunned, for several minutes.  It’s a bit unreal really when members of your own generation face life-threatening situations.  For me at least, it’s somewhat expected if it had been one of my parents, aunts, uncles, grandmother.  Although it would not have been any easier, there’s a comfort to the fact that they’re the older generation, they’re supposed to go before us.  There’s no such false comfort when it’s a sibling…or child.

As I’ve stated earlier, this week marks my I.L.D. – Involuntary Liberation Day.  The week has not gotten off to the best of starts and it got me to thinking.  How much of my life, for example, for one reason or another has been spent in medical institutions of one sort or another.  Too many it seems like.  When other people take vacations or sick days or whathaveyou it’s generally been my experience that they don’t do it to go spend time being present for others.  There have been a lot of loss in our family’s life these last few years and losing my sister would be like a long hard blow to the groin.

They still don’t know what’s wrong with her…

To Jump or not…

I’ve been back for a little over a week now and my life is just starting to resume it’s old routines.  I finally got some pics of the trip up on myspace, still have to upload the videos. 

I don’t know for sure but it seems like the trip may have marked a turning point in the relationship  between my son and I.  It may not be as historic or important an event as the recent election but it feels almost as momentous.  That is not to say however that since we’ve been back everything has come up roses.  Far from it.  My son still has problems with his temper, as do I.  We still are not nearly as organized as we ought to be and there are still things that trigger unhappy memories and stress.  But there has been more patience, more understanding, on both our parts I think, a sense that things might one day just work out for the best.

I can even point to the exact moment when everything changed. 

Grand caynon

 It wasn’t long after this picture was taken. 

My son was all worked up and excited, his emotions churing along with hurtful memories, excitement at all the new sites, exhaustion (we did 5000 miles in basically 5-6 days with several days of staying in one place) and God alone knows what else.  The conflict came at the last stop we made before leaving the caynon.  There’s a watchtower there at the south end of the caynon that I will now never forget.  As we were set to leave my son began throwing a fit and refusing to go. 

Now I’m not talking about your standard shouting and stomping of feet refusal.  For anyone who has ever worked in or know about what a “Rest and Recovery” room are at some alternative schools…(l worked one for a while), that’s the kind of fit I’m talking about.  A fit during which I had to physically restrain my son to keep him safe as his pain and rage and fear and everything else played itself out.  After about 20 of the longest minutes of my life, in the dark, under the canopy of stars with the cold wind blowing about us my son was finally able to calm himself down and we were able to talk.  He was able to put into words the feelings and thoughts that had been going through his head, in some ways better than I still am able to (which gives me hope for his future) and I shared my concerns.  We pinky promised – and for those of you who don’t know it means wrapping your pinky fingers together while you make a promise that can’t be broken – that he would try to listen better and I would try to be better at talking to him.

It’s a simple start and I fully expect there to be bumps and such.  But it IS a start and it seems like enough.  I still feel lonely and wonder how I can possibly raise this intelligent, thoughtful, cheerful, onery, hurting child through all he still has to go through.  But then I remember that night…and even if I do stay single while he and I survive his teenage years, more on that later, I have hope that we will survive.

Looking out

Family vacation

Okay so I know it’s been awhile since I put anything up here.  Does it ever seem like every  good idea you have for a blog/story/song/whatever comes to you when you are in the middle of something else or away from the computer or a pen and paper or in some other place in which the idea, though great, becomes fleeting?  I’ve had several of those moments over the last couple of weeks as I got ready to go on a 5000 mile road trip with my father and son.  It would be a somewhat emotional trip for me I knew.  We were going to California, one of only a handful of states I’ve never visited, to my Uncle’s wedding – which given my own experience this year I knew would probably be bittersweet, on a trip that recreated one of my best childhood memories…and one that I hope will live on in my son’s memory as well. 

In 10 days we went from Missouri to the Great Salt Lake to San Franciso and the Pacific Ocean to Sequoia National Park and King’s Canyon, to the Grand Canyon, Walnut Canyon, the Painted Desert, Petrified National Park and countless places in between, included a brief stop at Garden of the Gods in Denver before coming home.  And those were just some of the places we went after the wedding.  No wonder my head’s still whirling. 

I remember’d portions of the trip from my childhood.  Walking along the edge of the Grand Canyon and actually getting to spend about twenty minutes with my father and son close by, watching the sun set over the gorge is something I hope I’ll never forget.  Watching my son’s excitement as we wandered through the fossilized tree stumps reminded of my own childhood passion (and adult interest) in dinosaurs and all things old. 

It was a neat trip and bittersweet for many reasons.  But I hope it ranks up there for my son, as perhaps the first moment when we knew things might be better.  Even as we physically fought and struggled with each other at the Grand Canyon where he cried and screamed out his frustration, anger and fear at what this year has cost him, in the end, we were able to walk back up to the car hand in hand reassured of our love for each other.  It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t proud or particularly presentable.  But we stuck with it…and have proved the better for it. 

I don’t know what the future holds.  I’m sure there will be more nights where my son and I have to grapple with each other and our emotions again.  But I also believe, that he will never forget how much  I love him.  Nor will I forget, how much he loves me. 

Dinosaurs, giant trees and bears oh my…what a wonderful day.