Monday, July 14, 2008

Me and my shadow

At the request of Beautiful Wife - a nearly impossible-to-find picture of Dear Alex and daddy together - I'm usually the one taking the pictures, so I'm never in them.

Dear Alex and cousin E, playing in the sprinkler. Astonishing fun.

At home today in an outfit of her own choosing. "...A is for Alex..."
Note the pink rain boots.

I had a long weekend this weekend - it started on Thursday, and went right through Monday. I drove out to the East End of Long Island so that I could drop Dear Alex off with Grammy and George, then on to the house in Pennsylvania to get some things done without the distraction of taking care of the kid - I did a lot of driving. As I finally got there, I realized that I missed Dear Alex and Beautiful Wife. It's funny how much has changed in me, and how weird it was to realize how attached I've become to both of them. It's one thing for BW to be away - we've been there before, but not having Dear Alex with me felt somehow wrong. I've gotten so used to having her around, a constant companion on my journeys. I called Grammy and George a few times, inquiring about Dear Alex and whether she missed me - No, actually she hadn't really noticed I was gone was the answer. It's the same thing with Beautiful Wife - Dear Alex has mentioned her a few times, and she called for mommy once when she got a little boo-boo (she skinned her knee again), but there's no sense of missing or sadness at our absence. One one hand, this is a good thing - Dear Alex takes things as they come, enjoys herself and accepts our comings and goings as a matter of course. On the other hand you want to say "but don't you miss me?" "I feed you and clothe you and change your stinky diapers in the middle of the night, for crying out loud..." "I miss you." Actually, it's really okay - I don't think that she's internalized the abstract notions of love and loss, and she correctly assumes that we'll return. As I've said before, Dear Alex has a certain equanimity.
My Saturday was an interesting one, and a trip down memory lane as I went into the city from Pennsylvania with a friend with a pickup to retrieve an artifact from a chapter in my life that has closed, a motorcycle that I've had for years - that was last registered and run in 2000.
It appalls me that I let it go for so long, and I'm determined to restore it to some shade of it's former glory, but that's something for another time.
Sunday I drove back to the East End, to collect my lovely daughter - my return barely registered. No running to daddy with open arms, just a sweet and welcome "Hi daddy". We had some fun playing in the spray from a lawn sprinkler with cousin Eliza, both little girls were wary of the sprinkler at first, but they soon got that it was a fun thing, and there are few greater delights than watching two little girls giggling like mad and running wild in wet green grass on a hot summer day. It's pretty easy to understand why Dear Alex didn't miss me all that much - she had so many other things to see and do that there wasn't time or bandwidth to process my absence... I'm still thinking about it, though, and still writing about it.
Today, we got it together and got in the car and drove back to the city - Dear Alex didn't really want to go, but she accepted the fact that the weekend was over, and we had to go see Nanny J. - That's how I got her moving. When it came time to get in the car, Dear Alex would not let me put her in a diaper for the ride home. She wanted to wear underwear. No more diapers. I'm thinking about the potential for disaster - the L.I.E.. Traffic. No place to pull over. Dear Alex wailing in the back seat. I had a very tense drive. Guess what? No accident. She held it the whole way, and let me know as soon as we got home that she had to go "pee-pee NOW!".
It's occurred to me that Beautiful Wife will return (in two days or so) to a very different child than when she left - Dear Alex no longer sucks her thumb, is completely potty trained, and for some reason has begun talking a blue streak. She's always been verbal, but for the last few days, she's been talking non-stop. It may be that I'm thinking about it because Dear Alex didn't nap on our trip back to to the city - she chatted. About anything and everything, sometimes to / with me, in her very non-linear style (it takes a while to figure out what she's talking about and where the conversation is going..) and sometimes to Bunny, and sometimes to herself. The kid didn't shut up. She talked about everything from anchors and blimps to zippers. Entertaining for a while, then a little annoying. I turned on the radio (talk radio - WNYC) and she kept on talking. I really believe that there was something about giving up the thumb and mastering the toilet that's given Dear Alex a new confidence in herself. Though she doesn't have the words to express it, I think she's really proud to have left babyhood behind. As she constantly reminds me, she's a big girl now.
Tonight, Dear Alex had the longest shower ever - it's odd to think that not so long ago we bathed her in a tub from Ikea. She wanted to shower by herself, so we did - I set it up, she undressed, climbed in and stood there for almost 45 minutes talking constantly about anything and everything while I sat on her little bathroom stool and read "What to Expect - the Toddler Years", trying to find some reference to what it means when kids don't miss their parents when their parents go away... On the other hand, Dear Alex did ask me to tell her about my day - "the day you went away", so I guess she did notice after all.

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