My mom was always exasperated when I came back from a weekend at my dad’s house. I was insufferably whiny and rude, having just spent the entire weekend being catered to from morning ‘til night. My dad has always treated me like a person capable of making their own decisions, which is insurmountably exciting when you’re 6 and choose to have ice cream 3 times a day. There were no bedtime routines at his house, I would fall asleep watching TV on the couch teeth unbrushed and face unwashed. Sometimes I pretended to be asleep because I so enjoyed being carried to my room by his strong arms. I think the last time he carried me I was almost a teenager, and definitely pretending. His apartment complex swimming pool was my bath, and the clothes I wore were almost always brand new from a recent shopping trip. The mall was within walking distance and we were there a lot. If I asked to go to the zoo, we went to the zoo. If I wanted to see a movie, or go to the bookstore, or see my cousins Dad always made it happen. It’s no wonder my mom had a rough time of it when she didn’t (or couldn’t) acquiesce to my unreasonable dinner demands or requests to buy toys just because I wanted them. He was the Fun Dad, and it was impossible to compete.
These days my dad is in Sacramento and I’m in Portland and we talk almost daily as I commute from work to home. I appreciate our conversations which are sometimes mundane and sometimes philosophical, but always make my drive go by faster. Once or twice a year he is able to come up for a weekend. Last weekend was one of those weekends, and we hit it hard in full Fun Dad mode. We had adventures, ate delicious food, swam, shopped, talked - the only thing I was missing was being carried to my bed at the end of the night.
One of the most exciting parts about this visit is that it was his first time meeting Maeve! I purposely had him wait so long so he could spend time with a baby that was a little more engaged and smiley (little did I know she would have all the smiles from day one). After a few moments of crankiness (hungry babies that have spent an hour in the car getting to the airport aren’t perfect for first impressions) she honored him with a glimpse of her beautiful spirit. He got in late on Friday night, so his first couple of hours here were spent with just Maeve and I, which was a perfect start.
Saturday morning the whole fam went out to breakfast. Roman is definitely reserved when first getting together with people, even if he knows them well. I was hopeful that he’d skip that with my dad since last time they were together they had an instant bond. Unfortunately I guess too much has happened in the last 9 months, and Roman took awhile to warm up. Toys helped.
We headed back to our house to digest our breakfast and plan for the big event of the evening. We were going to a concert! Greensky Bluegrass at the Oregon Zoo. It was a risky endeavor, and there were ample chances for it to go sideways: from parking to finding a spot to sit to the noise level to the stamina of the kids and myself (I’m not exactly known to appreciate live music). It was going to take a lot of effort to make it happen, would it be fun? Yes. The answer is yes. Totally worth it.
I don’t know if we actually planned well or if we had some sort of magic working with us that day, but everything went super smoothly. To the point where we had Amazon Primed headphones for Maeve and they showed up literal minutes before we left!
Parking was easy, we got to the zoo before it closed and I was able to take the kids to look at animals while Troy and Dad stood in the concert line. That was daring because I have to rely on Roman to listen to me while I’m carrying Maeve in the Ergo. I can’t just pick him up if he tries to run off… But he was wonderful. When the concert gates opened we found a great spot on the grass and waited a few hours for the band to start. Roman was a bit challenging at times, wanting to run away from our blanket, but we kept him busy with a couple of shows and some ice cream. He’s a toddler, so overall I give him full points for being a Good Boy. Dad enjoyed people watching and later asked if the long hair, beards, and tattoos were part of the Portland sub-culture. Sure is, Pops! He was happily reminded of concerts he had gone to in the 60’s and 70’s. The band was great. The elephant was greater. We had a wonderful time. We did have to sneak out at intermission at a quarter to 9 because Roman was reaching the end of his rope, and I was anxious about getting caught in a traffic jam. We made it out easily, and slept really well that night!
Oh, but that was just half the weekend! The next day we joined my mom, Nana, and Caitlin for lunch at California Pizza Kitchen. I lived my best life and ordered an adult beverage. They also have a cheese pizza with smoked gouda on it, and I think that may be one of our greatest achievements as a culture. We had a nice long lunch on the patio chatting and chilling and then, you guys, the best thing happened! Roman made a friend!! He went over to the railing to look at cars and a little girl joined him! She introduced herself and asked if they could be friends and the whole nine yards. My heart hit the ground. He loved playing with her so much he didn’t even stop for a brownie dessert. She was probably 5 or 6, and I was really grateful of her sweetness towards him.
After lunch we took a quick run through Target primarily for Maeve to get a swimsuit because that day would mark her first pool adventure.
She loved it! I was worried because she only recently started enjoying baths, and the pool water was much colder than I expected, but she handled it and had a ton of fun kicking her little legs and floating around. Roman would live in water if he could, and had an absolute blast. I had a pang of longing watching his delight in the water. I used to feel that way, too. As a kid in the California summer I identified as a mermaid, but somewhere in the last crazy decade pool days have become uncomfortable. The water is harder to get used to. Washing chlorine out of my hair is such a chore I’d prefer not to get it wet. Changing out of a wet swimsuit is bothersome. I hope it’s just exhaustion and stress and that in a few years I’ll be right there with my kids playing diving games with a big grin on my face, just like the good ol’ days.
We wrapped up the weekend with a couple more good meals and a visit with my sister, mom and Nana who live super close to the airport. As always the visit felt too short and too fast, but my dad and I agreed we had made the most of it like we always have. Another successful weekend with Fun Dad!