Let me preface this by saying: we only have one child. Compared to multi-child families, we don’t know anything about ‘tired’. But each person only knows their own reality, so that’s all I can really say by way of apology.
I took the monkey to the Canadian Museum of Nature today. My wife had let me sleep in quite late. Other than the dogs interrupting me for their breakfast, I slept until 12:30, for which I was extremely grateful. To return the favour, I wanted to give her an afternoon of ‘her’ time. Not that I had much of a choice, because as we ate our lunch, the monkey asked, “Daddy, going to take me to see DINOS next?” I shifted my gaze to meet Alex’s and asked, “did YOU tell him that?”
“I said ‘maybe’ to him!” she explained. There’s no such thing as “maybe” when a 2-year-old has an idea in their head.
So after blackmailing him with the Museum visit (in exchange for trying to use the potty), and after realizing he wasn’t going to nap, off we went. We have a family membership, so this was probably our 4th time visiting since the spring. As such, he wasn’t QUITE as ‘into’ all the displays as usual, but he was still engaged. Spent the first while in the dino gallery where a nice employee named… Ram? Raj? (I could only see his first initial which was “R”) gave Cole a happy-face stamp and queued up a video about how bones are extracted from rock.
Tooled around there before we made it to the Animalium (insect room). He eagerly inspected a bunch of displays, spent time playing with their funny plastic chairs, and had a snack. Then we went up to see the birds, where he played with binoculars and then spent buckets of time in their “Animal Clinic” play area. From there it was the “Water” exhibit, where he mainly played in the big “Icebreaker” ship play area, though he was also quite impressed by the blue whale skeleton.
Snacks (Gummi bears and Rice Krispie squares, but only after he ate some yogurt!) and a coffee for dad, and then it was off to home.
Which brings me to my actual point today.
Outings are fun, but can be challenging. Half the motivation for going today was to give mom a “break” since she had taken him to the market in the morning. Minding a child is a time- and energy-consuming endeavour. Sometimes you just wish you could have a week or two off from being a parent and just do nothing. Or if not nothing, things that are “only” for yourself. I sometimes feel guilty or like a lesser parent for reaching the point some days where I want to tune everything out. Alex makes this easy for me because she’s the stronger parent, and when I’m frayed at the edges she somehow still has the energy to keep our family intact and sane. But I don’t want that for her; it’s too much to ask from one person. So I do my best, and I put in what feels like an effort some days. But putting in this so-called “effort” has never been anything but positive.
At the museum, watching the monkey laughing about the “dinosaur poop,” a little bit of the strain melted away. Lifting him up to see some “buggies” (he wanted to find ‘moving’ ones today) might have hurt my back a little, but was good for my heart. Seeing him make-believe in the clinic or the ship, and I was delighted at his imaginative powers.
During our snack, I was reviewing some of the photos I had taken today, and it occurred to me: with the help of some photos, THIS is what I’m going to remember when he’s a teenager and doesn’t want to hang out with me anymore. I’m never going to remember what I did at home the time his mom took him to X, Y, or Z and I stayed at home sleeping. I’m never going to remember all the work I caught up on when his grandparents took him out for the day. You can only remember the times that you are THERE for.
So even when it feels like an effort… even when I’m tired and whiny and a bit frayed at the edges… even when I think I’d rather be sleeping… I hope I always continue to make the effort, because I’ve never looked back at an excursion with the monkey and had anything but wonderful and positive thoughts about it.