Saturday, November 5, 2011

Tuesdays With Peter

Hi, folks. Catholic Mommy is off tending to Gassy Toddler this evening, so you're stuck with me again (her husband). My first guest post without a predetermined topic - exciting!

Tuesdays since September have been very interesting for us. I'm taking a night class at the community college immediately after work, and CM is a youth group leader later in the evening. This means that Peter has a babysitter for the ~10 minutes between her departure and my arrival, and then it's just the two of us for a couple of hours after that. (Me and Peter, not me and the babysitter.) Sometimes Peter falls asleep before she leaves (easier for everyone), but usually he does not.

The aforementioned babysitter is our 12 year old neighbor. He's very good with kids, and is actually going to be taking a certification class soon and plans to sit more regularly to earn some money. The first few weeks were rough, having never been alone with non-grandparents before, but Peter now enjoys playing with him.

He actually got used to both of us being gone faster than getting used to just her being gone. Most nights, the sequence of events is:

-I open the door.
-Peter says, "Mama?"
-Peter runs to the entryway.
-Peter looks at me.
-Peter looks past me at the closed door.
-Peter bursts into tears.

As I mentioned in a previous guest post, I telecommuted full time for the first 6 months of his life. Since then, I've worked at home 3 days a week. I've been blessed to spend more time with him than most dads get to spend with their kids. However, before youth group, we hadn't spent a significant amount of time together without Mommy - just during Sunday School, and then we have the option of spending time outside amonst the many wonderful distractions of nature that cloudy Rochester nights hide under their terrible reign (and, lately, rain) of darkness.

I would've thought this rejection would've hurt a little, but honestly, being around this mercurial guy for the last year or so has helped me develop a thick skin. I just feel bad for him. The days where he cried until Mommy came home or he fell asleep are pretty much past, and this week he actually said "Dada?" and smiled and ran over to me when I came in.

But I'm still no Mommy.

We played for about 45 minutes this week, when he abruptly stood up and ran to the front door sobbing "Mamamamamaaaaa...", as though he'd suddenly remembered she wasn't there. The usual distractions didn't work, so I decided to bring my guitar down. I played a few of my songs and a few other ones I thought he'd enjoy (he managed to sing along a little to La Bamba...). I tried to play the songs I usually sing to him, but as I've primarily switched to drums the last few years, my memory was a little bit off, so those were a touch disasterous musically. He didn't seem to mind, so long as I kept playing something, and signed "again" emphaticly every time I paused to remember the prechorus to Karma Police or something like that. After a while, he wanted to play, so I turned the guitar so the strings were facing the ceiling (his request), and I formed chords while he strummed and fingerpicked. He's only seen the guitar a handful of times, and never played before, so this kept him happy almost until Mommy got home. Success!

A relevant side note to this story is that this is my guitar:

I don't have a picture of Peter with it since I was the only one there when he was playing it, and didn't want to leave him alone for that long.
For those of you who are not acoustic guitarists (as I assume those who are have stopped reading to organize a lynch mob), this is a Taylor 410CE, a $2,000 guitar I got as a graduation present from my parents. Even if we could afford to replace it financially (which we can't), there are very few possessions I have that mean more to me than this guitar, so I wouldn't be able to replace it emotionally.

So why would I even consider letting a 15 month old touch it? Because he's old enough to understand me, and he's got to learn how to interact with things sometime. When he hit the body of it, I told him he had to be gentle, and he was for the rest of the evening. (I let him drum on the case instead.) I want him to understand that you can't treat all objects the same way because there are going to be situations in his life where there are things he has to be careful with or things he's not going to be allowed to touch at all. He also loves music - he plays our piano often, and lately has sat on my lap and played the drum kit at church during warm-ups. If he's interested in playing guitar, I'm happy to show him how it works, and I'll be happy to let him use it unsupervised when he's older if he decides he wants to learn how to actually play. And besides - it's not like I let him drag it around the house. He or it was on my lap the entire time, so what was the worst thing that could've actually happened? He breaks a string, or drools on it and I wipe it off? The realisitc negative consequences weren't remotely bad enough to make me even consider saying, "No, son, only Daddy is allowed to make music using this particular instrument".

Anyway, I'm hoping that this Tuesday will be more like last Tuesday, and that the guitar will still be interesting if he's awake when I get home. I've been enjoying having the time to spend with just Peter, and I hope that he'll enjoy it soon too.

If not, class ends in a month and a half, so at least we can try normal bedtime before Mommy leaves...

Jeremy is a sometimes guitarist, more frequent writer, and full-time daddy. His blog, Impersonal Correspondence, is linked on the right, though November will be sparse since, besides class and time with Peter, he's trying to do National Novel Writing Month. His current word count is 1220, so he's got some progress to make...


  1. That is so sweet! I have an Orthey Autoharp and it means a lot to me too since mine was purchased with money given to me by my 100 year old grandmother just a few months before she died so it is not carelessly handled! but I have let the Little Tiger strum it with a feather as a pick to introduce it. That went well. This child loves music, listens to classical with Daddy and plays with a harmonica and dances and sings with music on TV. For some reason this kid loves opera (ick according to the daddy here!) and just the fun of sharing music with my kids has been a big deal to me as a mommy. It is so sweet that you and your son are into music together. My older daughter plays keyboard and panpipes and it was always such a pleasure to listen to her practice. I love old musicals and my kids said that growing up ours was the only family they knew that might sing something from a musical as part of a conversation.. LOL!! Music like our faith is caught from parents as much as taught and it sounds like you have made a wonderful start. :)

  2. Thanks! Yeah, Peter briefly attempted to use the guitar pick, but mostly ended up stabbing at it/pick scrapes. He handed it back to me after a few attempts and went back to using his fingers :) There was a post a few weeks ago about some of the unusual stuff Peter listens to - like your kids, he's picked up some of my tastes, some of hers, and some out of left field. He came up to me the other day when I was listening to music "at work" with a huge smile and started dancing to Optimistic by Radiohead, then same thing later Where Is My Mind and Here Comes Your Man by the Pixies. He won't go near Springsteen, which bums me out a little bit. And he loves the awful elevator jazz that plays when I'm on hold before a conference call, so go figure. Guess it's still technically music, though, so who am I to judge? CM doesn't class some of the stuff I listen to in the "music" category (Dillinger Escape Plan and The Chariot specifically come to mind...)

  3. That's really sweet. I don't think I give Jon enough time to stay home alone with Gus, but every time I go out for even a couple of hours in the evening, I feel like I am burdening Jon somehow. I think I worry about Gus getting tired and not being able to fall asleep without me. But generally, they have a great time!
    Peter is so lucky to have so much music in the house! I wish we had a piano at home, but there is no space for one. Instead, I just sing a lot :)

  4. Singing works!

    I think one of the challenges of exclusive breastfeeding is getting the kids to be OK when Mommy's not around. Peter has much less separation anxiety than many kids, but typically bedtime just doesn't work when Mommy's not around. The good news in my case is that he's rarely continuously sad. (Only one Tuesday, where he cried real tears for an hour until he eventually cried himself to sleep in my arms...that was pretty depressing for all of us.)