This is another post from my “Daddy Daze” series, an anecdotal exploration of my odd little adventures in parenting in bite-sized chunks (for your reading enjoyment) and because the last thing this world needs is yet another doting parent blog.
Spring arrived. Sort of. And with it a scheduling clash that left Claire off school for a full day and myself off work for my every-other-weekly compressed schedule day off. With it the girl — who normally would require an industrial strength wake-up-call on your standard, run-of-the-mill Friday morning — was chipper and actively prowling the house shortly after six this morning. Parenting-by-iPad ensued, and I caught another hour of sleep on a rare I-don’t-need-to-be-anywhere weekday morning.
But eventually I relented, crawled out of bed, showered, and kicked yet another edition of Daddy Day into full gear.
Back when Claire was younger we had this thing. I had a fairly regular day off while she was between the ages of one and three-ish, and of course she had no obligation to be anywhere. It was just a day away from the dayhome — which was bonus-plus-one in my retroactive opinion. Our routine was to prowl the city and get a few chores done, yeah, but we’d frequently kick start our morning with an el-cheap-o breakfast at Ikea.
Ikea food is nothing worth writing about. There is a reason the breakfast costs 99 cents. But then, hey, it’s a breakfast for 99 cents. And we’d kill an hour on a weekday morning eating some reconstituted eggs and some this-probably-isn’t-real-meat sausages, while I chilled out at the parent’s bar overlooking the kids area.
Ikea was our thing for a while. And even two years after that was a regular thing, Claire still seems to hold onto it as a daddy day thing.
Little wonder we found ourselves standing in line at the doors of the big blue box store a few minutes before it opened, securing our place amongst the mixed hoards — other parents, seniors, university students, and us — all partaking in the grand tradition of exploiting a mega-corporation’s loss-leader promotional breakfast: dining for cheap and not actually spending any money at the store.
But, so it doesn’t seem like a complete extravagance, I should note that our visit to Ikea was tucked in there nice and neat among a short list of actual, useful morning chores.
We paid a visit to the bottle depot, returning fourteen bucks worth of empty containers (mostly milk jugs and beer bottles as we don’t go in for soda lately). Claire was the real winner there. I offered her the payola on condition of her helping me load and unload the car, honestly not thinking the refund would top ten bucks. Boy, was I wrong. I paid for breakfast AND she got my bottle money. How does that work?
Later, the poor girl had to sit through my haircut.
This was exactly the third time that she’s come along to the hairdressers with me. And I’ll never understand the fascination. I mean, I suppose there is something curious and captivating about watching your parent — I don’t know what — groom? Do normal human things? Receive a mundane service like a haircut?
She stood to the side, took in every second of the process, and made sure to giggle, point, and provide a running commentary on every intermediate stage of my new doo.
The last chore on our morning list was to wash the car. Usually I’d be really lazy and run it through one of those automated, drive through washes. I mean, the thing is — and despite my rigorous upbringing to the contrary — I wash my car as little as possible. Keeping the thing shiny and gleaming is neither (a) in my nature or (b) aligned with how I feel about using all those resources to do just that. But whatever: the whole thing is a kind of balancing point, of maintaining the car in a state of function, upkeep and safe operation while not going overkill on the detailing. But over the last couple weeks it had reached a point where it needed a wash. Needed.
Claire assisted. I won’t say she helped, though there was an attempt made at doing so.
Having cajoled me out of fourteen bucks, and needing to go to the toy store anyhow to pick up a gift for yet-another-friends-birthday-party tomorrow morning, I found myself standing in line at Toys R Us later that morning, a stack of Lego products in my hand.
Claire spent some of her “hard earned” cash on a little kit of her own — and conservatively so, I might add: she only spent part of it and “dad, I want to save some for another toy another day.” So, I guess that means she got some DNA from her mother after all.
I, on the other hand, splurged a little bit and bought a kit for a red dinosaur and — since I’d been looking for one — a big, square, flat surface piece because we didn’t have one of those.
By the time we got home and had lunch we were both itching to build some Legos, so I watched from the side as Claire built her little Lego Friends kit and then a little later we built the dinosaur together and made sure that the — perfect-to-scale, I might add — T-Rex made his lunch out of some of the Lego Friends.
Of course, this is very much a light and passing summary as — evidenced by the photos — we had a good and thorough play of Legos after lunch, and made some good work of our imaginations. And while the plan was originally to play Legos, clean the dog run, and then hit up the swimming pool for some splash-time… plans change, and we opted to take the dog and do some…
It’s been a late spring. Oh, man has it been a late spring.
To make it worse, winter arrived early last year, so calling this cold season we’ve just passed through a tough, long, epic slog is something of an understatement.
I needed some fresh air. Claire needed some fresh air. The poor dog practically clawed her way through the window when she realized we were taking her to the off-leash park five minutes into our drive.
Now… I don’t want to call my daughter a wimp when it comes to nature. But I’ll be the first to tell you that in summers past she’s tended to balance out on the side of, well, being a bit of a princess about the outdoors. Walks were too long. Mud was too dirty. Trees were too pokey. And… well, you get the idea.
Today something switched. I don’t know what. I don’t know how. But she was the one taking the roads less traveled, the same roads that led us through a muddy and wet exploration to find the old hollowed out tree that she remembered from last year, that had us hot in pursuit of clues to locate a beaver lodge in a small water basin after tracking a progression of his gnawed tree stumps, and the same trails that found us bushwhacking through some scrubby hills trying to locate a Geocache I had thought to pull up on my phone.
That’s right, Claire did her first Geocache today and she loved it… wouldn’t stop talking about it all the way home and all the way to piano class a half hour later… and is planning our next “treasure hunt.”
But after that little adventure through the muddy park, my car needs another wash… just on the inside this time. Though, maybe after I recover from one epic and awesome daddy day, and get some sleep, too.