Tired and ready for a nap (wishful thinking), Daytime Dad and his two munchkins head for home after a round of errands.
“Daddy,” Little One #1 says, “I want to go to the library and read books. Can you take me to the library.”
Daytime Dad checks the time — three hours still remain before it’s time he leaves for work.
“I don’t know, bub,” Daytime Dad says.
“Please, daddy, I love the library,” Little One #1 exclaims.
Daytime Dad sighs and pauses at a stop sign. A left-hand turn will take us home. A right will lead us to the library.
We turn right.
Yes, we are all tired. But we had time and, most importantly, a little motivation.
In an age of computer games, video games and a bombardment of television programs aimed at the youth, it seems libraries these days are going the way of the dinosaur.
“Yay, we’re going to the library!” yells Little One #1.
Daytime Dad smiles.
After ushering both Little Ones out of the car, through a parking lot and into the library — a process that took about seven minutes longer than it should — we settle into the quiet but otherwise empty library.
Little One #1 rushes to the children’s section and begins to peruse. Daytime Dad, with a sleeping Little One #2 in a carrier, ventures to a computer to look up a mystery book he’s yearned to read.
“Daddy, what are you doing?” asks Little One #1.
“Looking up a book,” Daytime Dad responds.
“What kind of book?” Little One #1 asks.
“Oh, a mystery book,” Daytime Dad says.
With that, Little One #1 shuffles out of the children’s section and heads toward the front desk with the confidence of a lion, the speed of a tiger and the subtlety of a bull.
“Hello!” he yells to the woman behind the desk. “We need a mystery book.”
“A kids mystery book or an adult mystery book?” the silver-haired lady responds.
“It’s for daddy,” Little One #1 says with authority.
Daytime Dad laughs and the librarian proceeds with directions to the adult mystery section.
“Daddy, go get your book,” Little One #1 says.
“Aye, aye, captain,” Daytime Dad says.
Back-to-Work Mommy grabs her keys and plants a well-placed kiss on each child. She blows through the kitchen toward the garage and heads for the car.
The garage door cranks up, the engine turns over and the car slowly backs down the driveway.
Daytime Dad wants to run into the street and lie down, protestor-style.
He thinks better of it, however, because he’s pretty sure Little One #1 would later attempt such a stunt.
She pops the car in drive, gives us a wave and grudgingly heads off to work, her first day back since the arrival of Little One #2 in early summer.
Daytime Dad pulls back from the window and takes a seat on the stairs.
He looks at Little One #1. Then Little One #2.
Suddenly, Daytime Dad realizes, he is out-numbered.
Little One #1 runs around in circles and turns on the radio. Little One #2 sits in her infant chair. She isn’t hungry now, but Daytime Dad knows she will be, and soon, too.
Daytime Dad hopes he remembers to prepare the bottle in time.
For now, he ponders the situation again.
Two kids. One parent. Eight hours.
What to do, what to do.
“Let’s take a nap!” he says to both kids.
“I’m not tired!” hollers Little One #2, who, indeed, only woke up about an hour before.
Little One #2 grunts, clearly in disagreement as well.
OK, no nap.
What to do, what to do.
“I know,” Daytime Dad says, “let’s play!”
Little One #1 breaks out into convulsions and screams, “BLOCKS!”
Little One #2 says nothing, but will go along for the ride if for no other reason because she has no choice.
So Daytime Dad and his two children head to the playroom for a wooden block adventure. It’s here, where imaginations fly.
In seven hours, Back-To-Work Mommy will be home. What condition the house is in when she returns — and family, for that matter — remains to be seen.
Daytime Dad watches Little One #1 make a bridge — or is it a road? He watches Little One #2, who is stargazing at a star-less ceiling.
Reality is here again, with both parents working.
This is going to be interesting.
Little One #1 scurries out of the car, grabs his backpack and slings it over his shoulder.
Daytime Dad, anticipating a call for help, stands by his side.
“Help, daddy,” Little One #1 says, as if on cue.
“OK, OK,” Daytime Dad says, his fingers curiously trembling as he pulls the straps over Little One #1’s broad shoulders.
Little One #1 scurries across the driveway and heads to a staircase that leads to …
The day has finally arrived.
Daytime Dad is equal parts thrilled and a bit saddened to see his son go off to (gulp) school.
Thrilled, because he knows how much fun Little One #1 will experience. Thrilled, because it’s a new adventure, and new adventures bring fresh perspectives and help mold character. Thrilled, because a whole new world will soon open for his little guy.
Saddened, because the first day of school confirms what Daytime Dad already knew — that time stops you, not the other way around. Saddened, because Daytime Dad has long cherished his mornings with Little One #1.
Like a sugar-buzzed bunny, Little One #1 hops up the stairs, with Daytime Dad and Almost-Back-To-Work Mom in tow.
Parents on the first day sat in on the class to help acclimate their children to preschool.
Daytime Dad liked what he saw and who he met, giving him confidence that Little One #1 was, indeed, in good hands.
Little One #1 also enjoyed his first day. He dressed up as a firefighter, played with Thomas the train and met new kids his age. He also liked his teachers, another plus for Day 1.
As the minutes ticked away that afternoon, Daytime Dad could only imagine what stories, what adventures and what experiences await Little One #1.
The first needle plunged into her right thigh, and the look Little One #2 gave was enough to make Daytime Dad scoop her up off the table and make a break for the door — sorry, doc, but we’re out of here!
Of course, Daytime Dad knows the shots — yes, shots as in plural — would help keep his little girl healthy, so he did the next best thing: Hold her minuscule fingers in his hand.
Little One #2, her face as red as cooked radishes, grabbed a hold of Daytime Dad’s fingers and squeezed tight. She didn’t want to let go, so Daytime Dad let her squeeze some more.
She let out an outward scream. Daytime Dad followed with an inward one.
She held tight, tighter.
One of the top responsibilities of being a parent is protecting your children and making them feel safe. Your trust is as invaluable as a heartbeat.
It’s for this reason Daytime Dad let Little One #2 squeeze his fingers until they changed color from white to red to, ultimately, purple.
She cried, her eyes shut, and she cried some more.
The second needle followed, and sequence of events pretty much mirrored how the first one went.
“You can pick her up now,” the doctor said.
Daytime Dad picked up his crying bundle and rested her on his shoulder. He ran his fingers through her black hair and whispered, “you’re so brave, little one. Daddy is right here.”
Slowly, the cries went to soft sobs, then receded to sniffles.
Her tight grip on Daytime Dad’s shirt only confirmed what he already knew: She felt safe and loved in his arms.
“Are we done yet?” Little One #1 asks impatiently. “I want to go outside.”
Daytime Dad looks up at him and places the box of blueberries on the ground next to the box, which holds three empty quarts.
“We have a ways to go, bub,” Daytime Dad says.
“But I want to go outside,” Little One #1 exclaims.
Daytime Dad stands up, stretches and takes in the bright sun that bathes the hill of blueberry bushes.
“Outside?” Daytime Dad thinks to himself.
“Bub, we are outside, take a look around,” Daytime Dad says. “It’s a beautiful day and we need to get some blueberries. We have five boxes to fill. How is your box going?”
Little One #1 looks into his box and then looks at Daytime Dad.
Daytime Dad then looks into Little One #1’s box.
“Oh,” Daytime Dad says. “You have two blueberries in there. Where did they all go? I thought you had a bunch in there before?”
“I dropped them,” Little One #1 says.
“You did?” Daytime Dad answers. “Was it an accident or on purpose?”
“It was an acci-purse,” Little One #1 responds.
“Ah,” Daytime Dad says. “Wait, a what?”
Little One #1 decides now is as good a time as any to go find Off-For-The-Summer mom, who is out of sight on the hill but certainly not out of mind.
“Mommmmmmmy!” he yells, and away he goes through a row of blueberry bushes.
There are many of advantages to being a Daytime Dad. One of them is helping the Little Ones enjoy what the outside has to offer through a variety of adventures.
While not every adventure ends in smiles, hugs and a silent ride home (wouldn’t that be nice, though?), they are an adventure nonetheless.
Daytime Dad also knows that four months from now, when winter will settle in, Little One #1 will enjoy these blueberries — including the five he picked all by himself — in his pancakes, on his oatmeal or in his yogurt.
Little One #2 lies silently in her crib and gazes up at Daytime Dad, or maybe it’s the ceiling. Her big, blue eyes pop from her face and she wiggles her hands in the air.
She extends her legs, wiggles the hands again, and then it happens quicker than it takes a hungry horsefly to find Daytime Dad at Reid State Park (what is up with these things?)
Her lower lip drops and her mouth is open.
She … She … She smiled!
While Little One #2 has smiled for Off-For-The-Summer Mom, this is the first one she flashed for Daytime Dad.
Some other idle thoughts and observations as the summer starts to slowly (real slowly, please) slip away …
• Little One #1 took his first swim lesson when he was 10 months old. He’s three now, and next month he will be in PWP — Pool Without Parent. Little One #1 is being recommended, and rightly so, to take what is called a Pike swim class that will be parentless.
The next session begins in September, which also coincides with Little One #1’s preschool debut.
Big changes are coming this fall, and Little One #1 is ready for them. Daytime Dad? Not so much.
• On a recent drive through town, Little One #1 asks Daytime Dad to find Bon Jovi on the radio.
Daytime Dad isn’t sure how Off-For-The-Summer Mom pulled this off, but she did.
• Little One #2 is growing so fast that she has out-grown some — OK, many — of her 0-3 month clothes.
She’s seven weeks old.
Daytime Dad predicts she will be in 2T clothing by November.
Little One #1 strapped on his life preserver, put on his ‘Rock Hero’ hat and proclaimed himself ready to go.Save for one detail — the life preserver was not strapped on as advertised — he indeed looked ready.
Daytime Dad fixed the life preserver then showered Little One #1 with enough sun screen spray that would protect his skin for weeks in a sun-splashed desert, let alone an hour in a lobster boat.
And with that, Little One #1 ventured down the steps to the boat, where his grandfather, among others, awaited.
The waves off the Marblehead, Mass., coast were rolling and the boat was rocking.
Still, Little One #1 seemed unfazed. He scurried along the dock and started to climb into the boat.
Daytime Dad shuffled for his camera, eager to capture the moment.
The scene conjured images of yesteryear, when Daytime Dad went lobstering with his father.
The moment was equally special for grandfather, who took Little One #1 into the boat and held him in his lap.
As the boat pulled away from the dock, Little One #1 waved.
Daytime Dad smiled.
Every so often a precious moment presents itself, whether it be obvious or subtle. This was somewhere in between. It was a moment Daytime Dad wished he could stuff in his pocket and pull out later, or cram into a freezer for later use.
The boat pulled away from shore, rocked up and down, then faded from view.
Daytime Dad, long after the boat pulled away, stood for what seemed like an hour, but was likely closer to 10 minutes, and surveyed the surf.
He wondered how Little One #1 would do out there.
Would he pull up any traps? (No, it would be learned later).
Would he push any back into the water? (Oh, yes).
Would they get any lobsters? (Two!).
Would he experience the same excitement as Daytime Dad once did on the open sea? (Yes. Well, maybe).
Daytime Dad also couldn’t help wonder — especially while watching Little One #1 truck down the dock with an air of confidence — just where, exactly, did the last three years go?