Adventures in Fatherhood, Part 1

By ben  

I had the special blessing of spending four days as the primary caregiver for Eliana and Jonas while Jenelle took a much-deserved vacation to Mexico with a friend.

The fun started early on Saturday morning, April 5. My dad stayed with the kids while I took Jenelle to O’Hare. When I got home, Jonas had just woken up, and Eliana was still asleep. After a quick shower, my dad left for a Saturday morning work responsbility, and I was officially ‘on my own’ with the kids.

Saturday’s plan was pretty straight-forward. Aunt Gail and Uncle Mike, who live near Madison, invited the whole family over for a late lunch to visit them and their daughter (my cousin), Laura, who was making a visit to Wisconsin from her home in Canada. My parents joined me on the two-hour trip, which made things easier for me.

I packed the kids into the Highlander with plenty of rations for the day. Two backup sets of clothes, pajamas, enough milk for two bottles for Jonas, plenty of snacks and drinks, and plenty of miscellaneous supplies. Also critical was the soundtrack from Frozen in the CD player. I think every girl between the ages of 2 and 7 is really into this movie right now. After a quick stop to pick up my parents and one last potty break for Eliana, we were on our way!

The kids were pretty good in the car. My mom kept Jonas occupied, and Eliana was full of smiles. The biggest challenge came about an hour and 15 minutes into the trip when E needed another potty break. As you might expect, this came up right after we passed a major exit (the Lake Mills area), so a minor detour was necessary. Here’s the conversation between me (Ben) and Eliana:

E: I have to go potty.
B: Okay, it will be a little while before the next exit, but we’ll stop as soon as we can. Can you hold it?
E: Yeah.
B: Do you want to listen to something until we get there?
E: I want ‘Let it Go’.
B: ‘Let it Go’? Are you sure?
E: Yeah.

See, that song would not be my first choice if I had to go to the bathroom. But it worked out fine for Eliana. We had to go five miles out of our way, but we made it without any issues, and the kids remained in good spirits for the rest of the journey. Jonas got a short nap in as well.

Gail & Mike live in a giant house that was built in the 1890s. Eliana and Jonas explored just about everywhere they could, including an attic full of old toys. Eliana also really liked to play with an old spinning wheel that belonged to her great great great grandmother (per what Gail said). I’m glad my parents came along, because there are a number of hazards where it’s helpful to have one or more adults ‘guarding’ each kid. Meal time was also a lot easier, with my dad handling Jonas and me helping Eliana.

Aunt Gail plays with Jonas in the attic.

Aunt Gail plays with Jonas in the attic.

Eliana plays with the spinning wheel.

Eliana plays with the spinning wheel.

Besides quality time with family, Gail made this trip special for Eliana and Jonas by hiding presents and easter eggs for them. Jonas got some cute pajamas. Eliana’s favorite gift was a purse, which she used to store the two dollars that were inside the eggs she found. I asked her where she wanted to spend her money, and she suggested the bakery, where we often stop after church on Sunday mornings. Sounds great to me!

Eliana, Aunt Gail, and cousin Laura

Eliana, Aunt Gail, and cousin Laura

We left Gail & Mike’s house around 4:00 that evening. As I expected, Eliana was asleep before we reached the freeway. Jonas took a little bit longer to conk out. The kids slept until about 5:40, so the trip back to my parents’ house was very smooth.

Knowing that I was in for a late night, I stayed for dinner at my parents’ house. I think the kids appreciated some more play time in a slightly quieter setting.

I don’t recall exactly when I left my parents’ house, but it was after 7. I would normally get Jonas’ bedtime routine (brush teeth, start bottle, diaper change, cetaphil cream, pajamas, one book, prayer, song, finish bottle, sleep) started around 7:15, but I waited until 8:30 because of his late nap. He still cried a fair amount after I put him in his crib, but he was quiet and asleep by 9:15.

Eliana’s bedtime routine (brush teeth, potty, pajamas, 2-3 books, prayer, song, lights out, another song, sleep) started around 9, about an hour later than usual. I was worried that, at some point, she would demand that Mommy provide assistance, but she didn’t. I think we did a good job of preparing her and telling her that Mommy was on a trip and would be back in a few days.

I probably should have gone to bed at 9:45, which is when Eliana finally fell asleep, but instead I went for a four-mile run on the treadmill in the basement. After a shower and some quick house-cleaning, I was done for the night.

Parts 2-4 coming soon.