Wednesday, September 30, 2009

School Daze

It is September, and like every September of my life, I look forward to a transformation.

This is my favorite time of year. As a child, I was ingrained with the biorhythms of the school year. New teachers, new schools, new friends all brought new challenges and triumphs. The sweet, long evenings of summer drew to a close, and new responsibilities greeted me. Growing up! Independence! New beginnings! The opportunity to remake myself, every autumn. The possibilities and the cold morning air were breathtaking.

This fall is no exception. We have new projects ahead of us. One of them is a new baby, due in May. Little Jeep will have a sister! In the meantime the Daddy Life has to shoulder a bit more housework, childcare, and energy. This is a given. Mommy Dearest has been sacked out on the couch for the last few weeks, a victim of fall colds and baby nausea. This is very exciting, of course. But the here and now demands our attention on another front.

Jeep and his Daddy enrolled in a co-op preschool this September. Preschool? For 1-year-olds? Yep. This is our third week. And it's pretty great.

I will be careful here, not to write too much about these people, these new partners in parenting our Boy. After this blog becomes famous, I am sure that some of my comments will come back to get me in trouble. For the meantime, I will say only a few things.

We are in a small classroom with a teacher and a few other parents. Seven children participate each week, in our case on Tuesday and Thursday between the hours of 9am and 1pm. The school is focused on a "play" atmosphere with plenty of activities and time outside. We are very busy during those four hours, and I would say that this sets us apart from a "daycare" situation. On Tuesdays, I am on shift as the parent helper. On Thursdays I go play golf.

Let me just say this - Jeep loves it. He has always been drawn to other children, and I felt strongly that we should provide him the opportunity for socializing with his peers as soon as possible. He was born in August, so that makes him the youngest in his class. This does not seem to be a problem.

The biggest change for The Daddy Life comes on Tuesday afternoon. We return home from preschool, Jeep has a bottle, and goes straight to bed. The Daddy Life also goes straight to bed, and is generally worthless for the rest of the afternoon. It is fricking exhausting taking care of one-year-olds. How does Octomom do it? Heh heh heh. (That was a joke~!)

After the first Tuesday, I made dinner, Mommy Dearest put the Boy to bed, and I drank all the whiskey in the house. Fortunately there wasn't very much of it. :)

Transformation, here I come! I think we're through the worst of it. Jeep is happy, I am happy, and the new baby heartbeat is cruising along at about 172 beats per minute. I love September.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

September 11

It seems like a lifetime ago. I was working in a Starbucks in Portland, Oregon when the planes hit the twin towers in New York. It was about 6am, I was slinging coffees to the early morning crowd, and guys were coming in with reports of horror and calamity. That was a new job for me, but technically my third run as a Starbucks corporate employee. Did I mention, after my history degree, that I spent my twenties wandering the earth? My return to Portland was something akin to a coming home, but I was still living in a month-to-month apartment. For some guys, commitment comes hard.

The morning wore on, and the stories kept getting worse and worse. Eventually, word came down from the TOP that all Starbucks stores were closing for the day. I was shocked and shaken. There was a girl working there, and I still remember her red hair and hipster glasses. She was off shift that day, but she was sitting home watching the television, and brought in these small pieces of paper. After terror gripped the nation, I glued mine into a little book I keep for important garbage that I don't want to forget. Here it is.

As much as I don't want to admit it, The 9/11 attacks changed my life forever. I was just reading a schmaltzy letter of remorse and remembrance over at Metrodad, and it made me realize that everyone has their own story about that day. I have mine, too. And I guess it's worth telling.

The story begins like this. I was dating 9 women at the time of the 9/11 attacks. NINE. I had a little apartment, and had returned to a town where I had plenty of friends. In theory, I was trying to "get back together" with an old girlfriend. But this was not even remotely true. I was drunk with the possibilities of girls in their twenties, post-college, and ready for action. I could hardly keep them separate in my mind. I had dates every night, and found it difficult to juggle them around. Now, you may be thinking that I am just THAT KIND OF GUY. I assure you, that is not remotely true. I am just a guy, like every other guy, that has been through LONG dry spells and hung on through TERRIBLE stormy relationships. Sometimes it just happens - suddenly, I was THE GUY.

I had more girls interested than I had days in the week! They were lovely girls, all of them. And we had very casual relationships. The were a mish-mash of old friends, new lust, and surprising distraction. Essentially, I discovered casual dating. And it was good. I give a special nod to those that stand out most in my mind - the White Porsche Girl, the Big Bam Boom, the Yoga Teacher, and the Nurse. It was a lovely fall.

There was a downside. When we woke up in my apartment in the morning, I wanted them gone. I didn't know how to say this exactly, but I always felt very strongly that they were somehow invading my space. But then they would go, and I would see them again some other time.

On that September 11, I made phone calls to the people in my life that mattered. I called my mother, and my father, and my brother. After I finished those calls, I thought to myself - "Is this all there is?" I always refer to the fall of 2001 as my "hot period" with the women. Honestly, I think I was just searching for something that I wasn't finding.

Finally, in November, it came to pass. I went on a date with a girl I had been keeping on the line for several weeks. She was a mutual friend, smarter than most, and had recently broken up with a boyfriend. We went out, she came on strong, and I was smitten. We went out to a club with friends, had far too much to drink, and I drove her home with me. She stayed the night, and in the morning a strange thing happened: I didn't want her to leave. I thought to myself - "how can I get her to stay?" Of course I offered her breakfast, and of course she refused, politely. Six months later we were engaged.

Here is the part that I can't get out of my mind: 8 years after the 9/11 attacks, there is a little boy sleeping downstairs with her eyes and my last name. The day that those towers fell, I told myself to GET SERIOUS about something in this life. There is mother and a one year old in my house that I am VERY serious about.

That is my story. It is not as sad as some. But it has a nice ending.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Bachelor Night, Part 2

What awaited me in the nursery was something from a horror film.

After months of casual baby monitor use, all my fears were vindicated. For the love of God, what did people do before baby monitors? It was 11:30pm, I was awakened from a deep sleep by the sound of choking, and my daddy alarm was tickling the back of my conscience. I stumbled down the hall, but maybe lurched was a better word. Was I drunk? I felt strange, but pushed onward and into the inner sanctum of babyland. The doors opened, the lights came on, and there he was.

My boy was covered in puke.

It looked as if someone had taken a bucket of puke, mostly consisting of string cheese, curdled milk, and purple grapes, and dumped it into Jeep's crib, directly over his head. He was a little scared but not crying, and when I picked him up I could see that he had been rolling in it. He was happier in my arms, and immediately began grabbing at my face with his puke covered hands. The stench was fantastic. I hadn't seen (or smelled) puke this intense in a long long time. We stripped off his clothes and got directly into the shower.

He was shivering, which makes me wonder how long he'd been puking. The shower warmed him up, and I dressed him in warm pajamas before we returned to the nursery to tackle the sheets, the mattress pad, and the pile of puke clothes. Once dressed, my boy wanted to play. This is the nicest part about sick babies. They don't know that they're sick. Jeep played on the floor awhile until he got another bout of the pukes, which thankfully all ended up on the carpet. I was not going to change those clothes again. I settled him down and he dropped right to sleep.

I went to bed, but somewhat shaken. He sounded perfectly alright on the monitor! He wasn't crying or anything! And then something sent me down the hall, the tiniest little choking sound and then PUKE PUKE PUKE. Oh, the horror. I laid half awake for the rest of the night, but Jeep seemed to be recovering.

At 6am he started his hungry cry, and I went upstairs to make a bottle. Again, something was wrong. My stomach was hurting. I walked back down the stairs and then suddenly I was detouring to the bathroom. PUKE PUKE PUKE. What was this? I never puke! I am the king of bad hangovers, stomach cramps, and holding my chips. Once in Siberia I got food poisoning and muscled down a week's worth of nausea and home remedies without ever once blowing chunks.

What did we eat? Was it Exhibit A? B? C? or even D?

The two of us spent the day taking long naps, crawling around the house, and moaning. I was in a bad way, and did the only thing a self-respecting husband could do. I lied about it. That was my wife's SPA DAY AT THE COAST. If I told her that her boys were sick, then she might come home. So I stuck it out. We were bachelors to the end. Well, almost the end. Eventually I folded and called my mother. She came over after work to take the Jeep off of my hands for a few hours. I was mildly feverish, and spent the time on the couch.

The next morning we were better. A little better. We even went to the zoo. And so, we attempted to put the food poisoning mystery behind us. Until now.

I am a bad man. Virtually everyone we came into contact with during this 48 hour period has since gotten the bug. Either this was our first childhood virus, or one nasty case of contagious food poisoning. Sorry, everybody! Mea culpa!