If there was a moment of truth for my new career in daddyhood, it happened the winter when Linden returned to work. Suddenly I was faced with long hours of baby time, and I alone set the schedule. Of course I pursued my own ends doggedly, relentlessly. In the winter it was lunch with friends, storytimes, long hikes, and shared naps. This, with the housework and cooking, left me a little bored. That spring when Jude was weaned, we launched into a new level of adventure.
Jeep was both portable and flexible, a perfect companion for my restlessness. I was lucky to have a few friends around with open schedules, and away we went. By May and June, I was taking the boy on far-ranging road trips like Steens Mountain, Wallowa Lake, and points in between. I bought a big tent and we put the crib right inside. Jeep could sleep anywhere, and I was happy to be in motion. These trips, punctuated by family vacations to New York and Florida, made staying at home feel like a lark. It was like I quit my teaching job, and summer vacation never ended.
Looking back, I can’t believe the audacity of these travels. Before Jeep was one year old, we had crossed the country four times by airplane and the state three times by car. As a 6 month old, I pulled him out of the bike trailer to see a baby alligator. At two months old, we hiked him along Crater Lake in the fading dusk. At thirteen months we spent a night in a sleeping bag together when the temperature dropped below 40 degrees. That whole year we spent talking to him, singing to him, dragging him from place to place.
I could see that there was a point on the horizon when Jeep would need more than my company to keep him engaged and challenged by the world. The smartest thing I did that year happened almost by accident. One morning I ran across a notice for a cooperative pre-school with a classroom for one and two year olds. We visited the open house and registered Jeep for the fall.
Next up, Back to School . . .