Saturday, 31 August 2013

The Last Thursday

Two Thursdays ago was my last Thursday. By which I mean it was the last day I'll have at home from work with just Amotai. Both of my recent employers have been good enough to allow me to work longer hours on the other four days of the working week, plus chalk up some work during his nap, to be at home on Thursdays. This has helped me shift from being a stay-at-home dad to going back to work. It's been really good, for me as a dad and I think for him too. Mum, as you'd expect, is Amotai's number one parent, but the time off with him has helped even things up a little.

There was a time I got stuck in a rut of doing the same thing every week, and there's been times when it's been a bit stressful, when I had chores and urgent work to do and a boy who wasn't sleeping. But in the last few months, I've got the balance right. I juggled work so there was nothing with a deadline that day. I did more chores at other times so I could take it easy on Thursday. I mixed it up a bit and left our suburb or met a friend.
My memory is rubbish, so I'd like to record that last Thursday for posterity. If that sounds as interesting as staring at a beige wall (and non-parents especially, I totally understand) then read no more!

Sadly I didn't think to take a camera with me on the day, so I'll sprinkle this entry with some of my favourite recent photos of him.

6.45am: I'm dragged from sleep by a little boy standing in cot in the room next door. "Dad out! Lounge!"

With Lauren pregnant I try to give her as much sleep as I can, so she doesn't wake up until 8am. That means I stumble around preparing breakfast. Today it's his favourite: "Muesli! Pee-cha! (tinned peaches)". We eat it at our table, which Amotai has recently become big enough to sit at without a booster chair. He's a pretty good eater , but there's still more than a few bits of Berry Berry Nice lying on the floor to be picked up.

Amotai has a number of special toys that we rotate in and out of the lounge. Among them are his box of Duplo gifted by two friends, a wooden truck with holes for shapes to go into (courtesy Granddad Koro and Nana G), and various puzzles. Today, at his request, it's the huge road mat that canny Auntie Marilyn snagged for $4 at the Salvation Army. He pushes his favourite vehicles around it, the "London cars" a friend in the UK sent over when he was born. These include a fire engine, ambulance and the Auntie Erin-named 'booze bus".

Sending the London Cars down the ramp
After saying bye to Mum as she heads off to work, we're off to Tumbling Tots gym at the local rec. centre for the second time. Amotai's a little behind the average physically for his age (though he's ahead verbally - kids tend to focus on one or the other more). So it's a really good thing for him to push him a bit. We do warm up exercises, wander about the ring of exercise equipment - ramps, trampolines, climbing frames, beams and other things - and finish by playing on and under a 'parachute' held by all the parents. It's a lot of fun. Amotai's favourite things are the parachute and puzzles on the floor, and he also enjoys the trampoline when the other kids have gotten off it. I'm very proud of him walking across the high beam holding my hands, as he was very scared.

After we finish it at the gym we head next door to the library, where they hold Rock 'n' Rhyme. We've gone to it almost every week that I've been home, both full-time and part-time. It's a half-hour session of singing nursery rhymes, with a short break to read books. It's very popular, with maybe 50 kids and their parents sprawling around the librarian. The kids watch entranced, particularly when she brings out hand puppets like the two birds Peter and Paul. There's a few dads or granddads there (maybe one in ten adults) and I think their numbers have increased a little since I started. Maybe that's a sign of the times.

Looking for baby tuatara at Zealandia
Fun time's over after that, because as usual the next thing we do is head across the road to the supermarket. It's a good visit for Amotai - he's given luncheon to eat as we stroll around Countdown and the lovely woman at the fruit and vege shop (who's a big fan) gives him two free mandarins.

Lunch consists of a whole apple and bit of tomato. We later regret all the fruit, which creates some nappy-related issues. Non-parents, you'd be appalled at how much time you spend discussing poop and its after-affects when you have a child.

After lunch, despite the usual protests, I maroon him in his cot and he soon settles himself to sleep. It's a big one and lasts for two and a quarter hours, during which time I log in to my work email on the laptop.

When he wakes up we have an afternoon snack - peanut butter and honey. Then it's off to pick up Mum on her last day in the office before she goes on maternity leave.

We're a bit early and I want to give him some outdoors time, so we wander around Midland Park and have a great time running down ramps and chasing pigeons - which, jaded birds that they are, don't bother flying off until Amotai gets quite close. He's delighted by this discovery. The sparrows and blackbirds that come for his leftover bread that we leave on the deck at home are much more skittish. "More pigeon!"

We spend a bit of time with Mum's very nice colleagues, then drive a happy Lauren home.

At home we do a bit of reading before tea. Lauren's full after her farewell, so it's a simple dinner of soup and bread for the boys. We move into the evening routine: post-dinner bottle of milk, the daily battle to brush his teeth properly and then it's a few more books from his little library and off to bed.

The only photo actually taken on the day

As he's done every night (and often in the middle of the night) these last few months, he asks me to sing Morningtown Ride. "Rocking riding?" He joins in for parts of it. "Driva ada engine." Soon, after a bit of self-settling, he's warm and snug under the blankets and well on the way to Morningtown.

It was a lovely day. If you get to read this when you're older Amotai, thank you.

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