My mom (known to you as Nonna) texted me this morning to point out the interesting fact that when I was 2 years, 9 months old, it was January 1984.
That’s when my sister (your Auntie Dana) was born. In other words, when I was your age, I became an older brother.
Just so I can put this into perspective for myself, that means that even if during the next couple of years, you end up getting a baby brother or sister, the age difference between you and him or her will definitely be greater than the age difference between my sister and me.
Each month and each year that passes in which you remain an only child, it makes me wonder if you will always be one.
Will you become that “little adult” than only children are often referred to as?
When we go on family vacations, will it just be you in goofy touristy photos like these from the Sacramento Zoo?
I mean… I’m curious, but not that curious.
There’s no sense of urgency, but I when consider I was already a big brother by your age, it does make me think about your fate of whether or not you will have a sibling.
Perhaps I write to you about the subject of “will you or will you not remain an only child?” quite often.
No, not perhaps- I totally do.
But for me, it’s not a subject to be dealt with lightly. For our family, there is a lot of careful planning and consideration involved.
By now, I’m way past caring about anyone else’s expectations of our family growing.
I’m even way past what I perceive in my own mind of what the normal American family is supposed to be; which I suppose the image I have in my head includes at least two kids and a dog.
But we’re not even a “dog family.” Or cat lovers.
We’re not animal people at all! Except for the fact we enjoy going to zoos as a type of a default hobby because our Nashville Zoo Pass is transferable to other major zoos.
Life is unfolding slightly different than I planned it. I always wanted four kids.
Then you were born. And I realized, I feel plenty enough of a dad now.
I feel like I can live my entire life satisfied in knowing I get to raise you and have a lifelong relationship with you.
You may never know what it’s like to be a big brother. Are you okay with that?
As part of our 5th wedding anniversary, Mommy and I celebrated by flying over Sacramento for our very first hot air balloon ride. Just so you know, these pictures you see of your parents were not easily obtained…
The first morning we were scheduled to launch, it was too windy to fly. Then for our second attempt a few days later, not enough riders showed up to keep the balloon’s weight heavy enough for the flight.
Fortunately, the third time was a charm.
However, that meant that for three mornings of our ten day vacation, Mommy and I had to sneak out of the bedroom we were sharing with you, while staying at Grandma’s house.
It was a concentrated effort to keep you from waking up in the process.
We both had to set our alarms for 4:00 AM to make it in time for the launch, but had to remember to set our phones on vibrate; placing them close enough to hear them, but not too close to you.
Then, we had to crawl on the floor, using our cell phones as flashlights, hoping not to bump the bed as we groped and hoped for the door knob, holding our breaths it wouldn’t squeak as we escaped.
That’s not even mentioning the fact we had to sneak in the bedroom the same way every single night, crawling on the floor with cell phones, just to go to bed.
This wouldn’t have been so challenging, perhaps, if you weren’t the kind of kid who doesn’t sleep well in the same room as your parents.
You’re the opposite of me, in those regards.
When I was a kid, I always looked for an excuse to sleep in the same room as my parents; being so desperate I didn’t mind sleeping on the floor.
As for you, it’s nearly impossible for you to fall asleep if you know Mommy and Daddy are in the same room.
You’ve been conditioned to fall asleep only if you’re in a room by yourself.
I suppose that’s a side effect of the “cry it out” method; not that I regret that decision the least bit.
It was best for you. We offered to let you sleep with us when you were an infant and you seemed annoyed by it.
You’re a solitary sleeper.
But hey, when we’re on a family vacation staying for free with family, we find a way to make it work.
I just had to ask myself, “What would Clark Griswold do?”
Mixed with a little bit of Ethan Hunt from the Mission Impossible movies.
Halfway through our vacation last week, you asked me, “I go back to school tomorrow?”
I could tell, you weren’t asking me if you had to go to school the next day- you were asking if you could go to school the next day.
What’s not to love about spending 10 days in northern California with all your cousins, getting to play all day and have your parents turn a blind eye to you drinking juice?
(Sure enough, your eczema reappeared by the 2nd day, which is why we typically don’t let you drink juice.)
I say it all comes down to routine. You’re like me- you thrive in the routine.
Being on vacation is so… open-ended, and even… intimidating to the psyche. The part about not knowing what to expect the day is hard for you (and me) to process.
So I totally get why half-way through our vacation, you asked about going home.
Of course, you totally had a blast the rest of the week, and I still have a story or two to tell about that soon!
But I will say, now that we’re back in Tennessee, you completely appreciate the comfort of the familiar routine.
You were way too excited to hop in the Honda Element for the ride to school yesterday, which was your first time back to school in close to two weeks.
Very joyfully, you kicked your legs along with the bathroom echo rock music of The Shins as we hardly spoke any words on the 45 minute drive to school. You were just so excited to know you were about to enter back into your life of structure. I love it when you are that content and at peace with me, giddy and smiling the whole time.
Even though you showed some unusual hesitation when I dropped you off, I knew you wouldn’t have much trouble readjusting.
Here at the end of the 2nd full day of vacation with Mommy’s side of the family here in Sacramento, I’ve officially realized the way it’s going to be:
You’re totally going to get away with running around the whole week wearing nothing but a diaper.
It’s not intentional, of course.
Mommy purposely packed your cutest outfits for this trip. And you do wear them, for about the first two hours of the day.
Then it’s warm enough to play in the little wading pool in the backyard; as you step in the squishy black mud as you search for new toys to throw in your pool.
I laughed to myself yesterday after dinner. There I was, playfully spanking you with an over-sized, plastic, hollow baseball bat, as you attempted to hit me with the accompanying plastic baseball while swinging a plastic golf club at me.
You were in total caveman mode. And I was encouraging it…
Even after our impromptu game, you continued walking around like a gorilla, grunting your way across the background as family members tried to speak to you in English.
Now that you have finally caught up on most of your missed sleep due to the early flight out here, the time change, and all the excitement of your cousins making you into a pet version of Animal from the Muppets, I don’t expect you to go full caveman again this week.
Enjoy the “no shirt, no shoes, no pants, no problem” policy while you can, though. We are on vacation, remember.
All Mommy and I really could do was just embrace ourselves and expect for the worst, as we boarded the plane yesterday morning from Nashville. It was your first time with your own seat on a plane (and that we’ve had to pay for one for you) and we didn’t know if that would be better or worse than you sitting in Mommy’s lap like the other two times we’ve flown to California.
The 90 minute flight to Minneapolis was fine, being that we all had to wake up at 3:30 AM to get to the airport in time. You were in a daze.
And during the one hour layover in Minneapolis, you were fine, because they offered free use of tablets, which you took advantage of by watching clips on YouTube of Jeeps plowing through the mud.
But by the 2nd half of the 3 and a half hour flight to San Francisco, you had plenty of energy to release… in the form of kicking the seats of the people in front of us.
I immediately (!)corrected that- by letting you kicking my legs instead.
It was the best idea I could come up with.
Trying to discipline an overtired, energetic, and restless toddler on a plane is a tricky thing.
After all, everyone was watching. And I just simply wanted to subdue you and most importantly, not make a scene.
Mommy was able to tone you down a little bit by pulling out crayons and coloring books for you.
About that time, the man sitting across the aisle from me, a friendly Wisconsin resident named Tom Potter and his wife let you borrow a couple of their grandson’s books… ones that you’ve never read, like Dr. Seuss’s Hop on Pop.
Soon after the plane landed, Tom and his wife, as well as the lady sitting next to them, all individually commented on how well-behaved you were.
My reaction was something like this: “Ha ha! Oh? Really?.. Um, thanks!”
I had prepared for a a meltdown, but fortunately, it never happened. This was a situation where less was more.
It was best to not try to discipline you for being an overtired, energetic, and restless little boy. You just needed a distraction.
In reality, you weren’t the token brat on the plane that annoys everybody. What a relief!
Having those people tell me that you were well-behaved made me feel really good.
As for the hour and 50 minute drive from San Francisco to Sacramento, you fell hard asleep about 10 minutes into the ride.