Sunday, July 02, 2006

What I did on my wife's summer vacation

Here in the 19 Minutes Home Office, we're around 32 hours into our latest Solo Dad experiment, while my wife is reuning with some college friends halfway across the great state of Wisconsin (well, 70 miles or so). It's not the first time we've solo'ed (note the entertaining use of the first person plural connected to the word "solo") for multiple days, but it is the first time in a while we've gotten around to blogging about it. So let's dive right and recap the weekend, and while we're at it, take a couple of gratuitous swipes at the military:

Saturday, 1:45 p.m., Madison, Wisconsin: The transfer of power officially takes place in a parking garage along State Street. There's no lowering of a flag, just my wife putting Sylvi in her car seat and kissing her on the forehead, as I drive back to Milwaukee.

Saturday, 1:50 p.m.: Sylvi may have fallen asleep, but I'm not sure, since she's wearing sunglasses and still clutching her sippy cup.

Saturday, 2:00 p.m.: I'm pretty sure she's fallen asleep, since her head is now slumped to the side and she's dropped her sippy cup. The downside to her napping on the ride home is it eliminates the possibility of my own nap later. The upsides to this are a) at least she's napping, and b) I can listen to whatever CD I want on the hour-and-a-half drive. So why am I still listening to "The Backyardigans"? Okay, just one more repeat of "A Pirate Says Arrr", and I'll switch.

Saturday, 3:25 p.m.: We're approaching Wauwatosa, and our exit. Sylvi's still asleep. There's no way I'll be able to accomplish the Car-to-Crib Sleeping Child Transfer. I may have solo'ed many a time before, but I must have been absent on that day of Parenting College. So we'll drive towards Lake Michigan - if Sylvi wakes up, she can check out the big bridges, giving the trip the veneer of a Cultural Experience.

Saturday, 3:28 p.m.: Sylvi, naturally, wakes up half a mile past our exit. She spots an airplane out the window, which gives me a great idea: "Hey, Sylvi - do you want to go watch airplanes at the airport?" She does, and we're rewarded with an observation parking lot adjacent to the runway, and which I never knew existed. Alas, the wind is blowing around 40 mph, and the takeoffs and landings are few and far between. There's also a sign advising us we can hear the planes by tuning into 88.5 fm. I do this, and tell Sylvi, and then realize that "hearing planes" for her involves a noise like "Vrrroooom!", and not the sound of people saying words like "niner". After 15 minutes of this, I decide to get the car washed.

Saturday, 4:00 p.m.: Sylvi deals with the automatic car wash pretty well, considering the enormous floppy brushes resemble Muppets from Hell (or at least Elmo after a tragic Cuisinart accident). She's fine right up until the rinse cycle, which makes sense, considering she's fine with baths right up until it's time to rinse.

Saturday, 6:00 p.m.: After a couple of Tivo'ed Mr. Rogers episodes, it's time for dinner. Just before dinner, I make the mistake of calling the Kopp's Frozen Custard flavor line, and find out the Flavor of the Day is "Sprecher Root Beer Float". This is a mistake because I'm going to be impatient for Sylvi to finish eating her dinner, whatever it turns out to be.

Saturday, 7:30 p.m.: Sylvi finishes eating her nine bites of macaroni and cheese and half a bowl of raisins. I had planned to make myself dinner after she finished eating, but at this point, I settle for the rest of her macaroni, and we set out for Kopp's.

Saturday, 7:31 p.m.: I lift her down the stairs to go out to the car and puzzle over why her pants feel wet. Perhaps it has to do with the pungent odor emanating from her posterior. Hmmm.

Saturday, 7:32 p.m.: We're back to the drawing boa- er, changing table, as we discover the World's Largest Poop has overwhelmed her Pampers and forced a last-second pants change. Sylvi requests a skort, but settles for shorts when Dad's not absolutely sure whether her skort matches her shirt, and he's pretty sure Mom has spies throughout the Milwaukee area who will rat him out if he takes his daughter out in a mismatched outfit.

Saturday, 7:40 p.m.: We're out the door. On the way, instead of asking where Mom is, she inexplicably calls for Kristi, one of my wife's college friends, whom Sylvi has basically just met today.

Saturday, 8:00 p.m.: Against my better judgement, I order two scoops of Sprecher Root Beer Float in a dish. I do this because I love both root beer floats in general and Sprecher Root Beer in particular. As it turns out, as a frozen custard flavor, Sprecher Root Beer Float is a little disappointing. Sylvi and I finish it anyway, which has me a little concerned about her readiness for bed when we get home.

Saturday, 9:15 p.m.: Apparently the custard effects are offset by her shorter-than-usual nap, and she falls asleep without even so much as one verse of "Zamboni", which, honest to God, is what she wants to hear every night.

Sunday, 7:45 a.m.: After a pretty lame edition of the Weekend Edition Sunday puzzle on NPR, I get out of bed, which isn't easy, because I celebrated a successful day of Solo Dad by watching an Atlanta Braves-Baltimore Orioles game that I recorded for no good reason, which got me into bed around 1:00 am. Sylvi probably won't wake up for at least another hour, so that gives me a little time to read the Sunday paper and take a shower without ducking my head out from behind the curtain every 15 seconds.

Sunday, 8:45 a.m.: Bingo. Sylvi's up. "All done sleeping," she announces, repeatedly, until I can make it into her room, roughly 20 seconds later.

Sunday, 9:30 a.m.: Super Solo Dad has kicked into action. We've gotten her dressed, fed her raisin bran (with a few spoonfuls of Dad's Apple Jacks, just to allowe her to appreciate the finer things in life), and we're starting to pack up for the zoo.

Sunday, 9:40 a.m.: We're in a holding pattern as I stop and try to figure out whether the name "Apple Jacks" is, in some way, clever. It seems like it ought to be a play on words of some kind. I try reversing some letters. "Japple Acks". "Ajjle Packs". I can't figure it out. This is what Will Shortz should have quizzed the puzzle contestant about this morning.

Sunday, 10:20 a.m.: Amazingly, we're closing in on the zoo. This is going to be great. It's Summerfest weekend in Milwaukee, and besides, it's only 10:20 a.m. Who the hell is going to be at the zoo this early?

Sunday, 10:22 a.m.: There's a huge line of cars waiting to get into the zoo. People wearing blue shirts with American flags and the words "Operation Freedom" are directing traffic into the parking lot. Gee, there sure are a lot of cars with USMC stickers on them. And mine with an NPR sticker. Finally, I reach the entrance booth. A teen, who looks as puzzled as I do, reports, "It's Eye-rack-ee War day at the zoo. They're expecting 17,000 people today." Great. Maybe we'll just check out the hippos and go home.

Sunday, 11:00 a.m.: There are, indeed, a lot of people at the zoo, celebrating our dubious success in Iraq by checking out the turkey vultures. And really, what are we fighting for over there, anyway, if not to preserve some people's inalienable right to smoke just 25 feet from the sign noting the "Northwestern Mutual Family Farm is a smoke-free environment"? [Gratuitous Swipe at the Military #1 follows] Anyway, our dubious success in Iraq probably shouldn't be a major surprise, considering the difficulties some of the people were having deciphering the zoo map today. On the other hand, it was a largely polite crowd, and I didn't worry about terrorists taking over the Seal and Sea Lion show.

Sunday, 1:00 p.m.: Sylvi's a huge fan of the Seal show, actually. I was sort of hedging on whether to try to wrangle her in line for 15 minutes without some parental backup. But as she usually does, Sylvi surprised me, and spent the 15 minutes entertaining everyone around by doing an interpretive dance to the Cher music blasting from inside the seal arena. (Or was that the Seal music blasting from the Cher arena?) This worked especially well, because the two-year old boy next to us in line was busy having a meltdown, which further reinforced Sylvi's image as Perfect Girl. We are rewarded with front-row seats at the Oceans of Fun show, at which we're informed that all the exhibits at the zoo attempt to accurately portray the animals' natural environment, after which we're reminded that the Oceans of Fun show is sponsored by Miller Beer, which explains the big sign but leads me to wonder what the natural environment of an Atlantic Harbor Seal actually looks like.

Sunday, 2:00 p.m.: After all the running around at the Zoo, we're primed for a nice, long nap this afternoon, which will hopefully accommodate a nap for me, too. Sylvi starts drifting off to sleep five blocks from our house, but I just manage to keep her awake...

Sunday, 4:00 p.m.: ...for the next hour and 40 minutes. Actually, I change her diaper and get her into bed with no problem. She then proceeds to have an animated conversation with whatever stuffed animals will listen. By 4:00, she's still chatting loudly, and punctuating it with loud kicks on the side of the crib. Finally, she starts calling out, "Mommy! Mommy!" I think about boycotting her until she remembers which parent has been on duty for the past 28 hours, but relent.

Sunday, 4:45 p.m. We go out to get dinner. Boston Market. I'm pretty sure we went shopping on Friday so that I could feed myself and Sylvi this weekend, but to this point, I've come up with macaroni and cheese, raisin bran, applesauce (at the zoo), and dinner out. On the other hand, she blasts through her mashed potatoes, some (yes!) more macaroni and cheese, some of my roasted chicken, and a large piece of cornbread. She falls asleep on the ride home.

Sunday, 5:30 p.m.: But as tempting as it is, there's no way I'm letting her nap at 5:15 p.m., so I wake her up, and get out the miniature soccer goal she has, along with two soccer balls. She proceeds to demonstrate that she could have beaten Brazil yesterday, as she somehow manages to dribble one ball with each foot and kicks them both into the goal. Satisfied that her full-ride scholarship to UNC is secure, she goes off to collect little rocks in a plastic cup, which she will then stir with a stick and announce "Sylvi is making smoothies." (Everything she says is in present progressive tense these days, which gives the impression of having a conversation with a Russian just learning to speak English: "Daddy is having cold coffee now...", or "Sylvi is having big poop.")

Sunday, 8:00 p.m.: We've dragged out the evening to the point I'm pretty sure she'll be off to dreamland soon. We get her changed into pajamas and she requests a longish book, "The Happy Lion", which she's figured out I'm a sucker for reading. I like the book because a) there are lots of French names (Monsieur Dupont, Madame Pinson, etc.) and I enjoy putting into use the accent I picked up in six years' worth of French classes, without having actually learned any French; b) Sylvi has already figured out how to say bonjour, which is worth the price of admission; [Gratuitous Swipe at the (French) Military #2 follows] and c) there's a great scene where the Happy Lion goes wandering down the street, cheerfully saying "Bonjour" to everyone, and the French military band immediately beats a retreat to the alleyways and sidewalk cafes. I read "The Happy Lion", sing one rendition of "Zamboni", and she's asleep.

Sunday, 10:27 p.m.: She's still asleep, despite the fact that our various Wauwatosa neighbors have decided this is a good time to shoot off fireworks, despite the fact that IT'S JULY 2nd, YOU IDIOTS! WHY CAN'T YOU GET YOUR DAMN FIREWORKS OCCASIONS RIGHT?

Of course, the better question is, why haven't I gone to sleep?


Anonymous said...

Outstanding post - laughed out loud several times and I don't even have kids.

Driving DM to LA this Saturday-Sunday...

Anonymous said...

You hit the nail on the head! I'm also fairly certain that MN sister-in-law also has child fashion spies on retainer when I'm soloing. It's quite nerve racking. Hey, you like "The Pirate Says Arr", too? I also like "Riding the Range" and "It's Racing Day". Classics!
On Bagel Players!