Day in the Life
With November being a month of back-to-back trips - one to New Jersey to attend a wedding, then to DC to see friends and family, and another to Tokyo (as you're reading this, I'm busy exploring that epic metropolis) - and then a long Thanksgiving weekend to top it all off, I honestly haven't gotten a lot done so far other than the first two days of the month where I was actually knocking out my daily word counts. Because of this I thought it would be great to do something a little different with the blog post that kicks off this month. Instead of talking about the art of writing or my experiences as a writer, I will take this time to share a slice of my day with all of you.
And that day will be Friday, November 10th, 2017. Very fresh in my mind, and could be considered an inauspicious day with nothing out of the ordinary happening other than my daughter, Terra, being home for Veteran's Day. But that, friends, is where the fun begins.
With Terra out of school and my wife not out of work, I was tasked with keeping this almost-two-year-old occupied throughout the day. I've accomplished this many times over the last year and change, so knowing that could be done wasn't a question, but even with my personal experiences with her, one could never be sure how a whole day would turn out.
Once I woke her up by turning on the lights in her room - always a dim setting that is bright enough to illuminate the entire room but not bright enough to blind you when you have half-open eyes - she looked at me for a moment, blinked, and then giggled after smiling. Yes, this would be a good morning - and sure enough, she was happy with the clothing combination Momma selected for her, was cooperative as her hair was combed out from its matted state, and cooed as she pointed at the eggs-and-fruit breakfast that awaited her upon being brought downstairs to the dining room. As expected, she consumed the fruits quickly, with little time for breathing it seemed, while the eggs sat on the plate, cooling and looking neglected by the littlest one in the family. Eventually, as always, the eggs were scooped up, either by a small fork or by her hands.
With breakfast finished, Momma had to leave for the office, which meant it was just Terra and me in the house. Fortunately, it was raining - an event that is pretty rare throughout most of the year in Oakland - so Terra jumped on the couch that butted up against our front window and watched as the rain drops coated the world outside in a thin sheen of much-needed moisture. She spent time calling out flocks of birds that flew overhead or in the distance - I'm always fascinated by her ability to pick out distant objects - or looking for some of the stray cats that wander around our block. The occasional airplane would be spotted, pointed at, and called out: "Airpane!" Of course with it raining, the overcast sky kept all aerial craft hidden, though I don't think she put that together.
She spotted a lone black ant that got inside the house from the window. "Bug!" she cried as she pointed at the insect with curiosity. Enough curiosity such that when I returned with a torn piece of napkin, she already lured it onto her finger. She oohed and aahed while the ant moved in circles around her finger before working its way to the palm of her hand. Instead of closing her fist on it, which I've seen her do in the past, she kept her palm open, allowing the ant to roam her hand before finding the arm that it was attached to and proceeded to travel down it. Her face was priceless, one of fascination that told me she never wanted the experience to end with this little creature. Unfortunately, Daddy was here, so once the ant reached her elbow, I slowly removed it from her arm, to which she looked at me with furrowed brows and asked "Why do dat?" She was very serious, so I explained that ants shouldn't crawl on her. I think I got through to her, but her huff in response told me she wouldn't forget my decision.
An hour or so later, Terra was smiling and singing while she used her fingers to probe my face, calling out body parts like my eyes, nose, and mouth as a finger or two poked them in earnest. "Mole," she said as she poked at the lone, black mole on my face, something that she initially thought was a boo-boo several weeks prior. She really wanted to pull my eyelids back to see more of my eye as it moved around. I went along with all of this because it consumed time, but also because she enjoyed it. But mostly because it consumed time.
As lunch time approached, I rummaged through the refrigerator in the hopes of finding leftovers that I could quickly heat up for her and not have to cook a whole new meal. Granted, I've been getting better at cooking over the last couple of months thanks to my wife, but it's a skill I just do not enjoy cultivating. I love to eat, but the process behind the food tasting so good not so much. I sighed as I realized there was nothing to reheat, so I thought of stuff I could throw together in a short period of time. A-ha - tofu stir fry! The stir fry was pre-mixed in the freezer, and the tofu was prepared in plastic shrink-wrap - easy-peasy! Terra kept herself occupied with her books and toys in the living room while I whipped her lunch together in just under fifteen minutes. Though I don't like tofu, I tasted it just to make sure it wasn't too hot and tasted good, which it did. The veggies were also primed, so I placed half of what I made on a small plate and brought it to the dining room table. She ran over to her high chair, pointing to the food and then to her mouth while chanting "Eat, eat, eat," so I kept my fingers crossed that she'd actually eat what would be in front of her. Once she was seated, the mushrooms were the first to go, followed by most of the tofu. She picked at her broccoli, but ate most of it as well as the carrots; tried the red peppers; and ignored everything else to my dismay. I tried to convince her to at least try the green beans, but to no avail. Ten minutes after her lunch time started, only 65% of the plate was consumed. She pushed the plate away from her and looked at me. "All done," she said, though I knew she'd give me grief because she was done with her plate, but wasn't actually done eating.
I was at a crossroads, one that I've crossed a couple of times with this toddler in my life: Do I fight her on clearing the plate, which could lead to her throwing down a thirty-minute tantrum before conceding? Or do I give in and provide a banana - her favorite fruit - to substitute for the uneaten veggies?
I gave her two bananas.
The afternoon was one of book-reading, putting together puzzles, and her singing and dancing with her plush dolls (the usual cast of characters: Mario, Princess Peach, Bowser Jr, Slime from Dragon Quest, and her teddy bear that was simply named Teddy). There was one period where she took my hand and said "Baby videos." Translation: I want to watch some YouTube. I asked her if she wanted to read another book instead, but boy... she is really independent-minded! I relented and agreed to show her up to ten minutes of whatever she wanted. Translation: She could watch whatever I've already curated in a custom playlist of videos and nothing else. The first video she wanted to watch - contrary to her "baby videos" request - was about the different species of frog that exist in the world. After that, we watched gameplay footage of Super Mario Bros 3. As she was getting into that video - the player just nabbed the Warp Whistle in level 1-3 - I paused it and said "Okay, Terra, video time is over. Time to go back to your room." As expected, she groaned with displeasure, but walked back to her room when I took her off my lap.
Momma came home early on this day, which caught Terra by surprise. She jumped up from her seated position in her room and ran to the stairs that looked down to the foyer by the front door, yelling "Mommy home! Mommy!" as she impatiently waited for me to escort her down the stairs.
The day didn't end there, but I feel this is a good place to end my story for now. With a toddler like Terra running around inside and outside the house, trying everything she can to understand the world around her, life is far more interesting. Seeing someone as young as her discover the world for the first time is such an amazing experience. In retrospect, I feel like I should've let the ant continue its journey up Terra's arm just to see how she would react - after all, the ant was harmless. Maybe next time she picks up an ant from the surface of a window or from the ground, I'll let her take the lead on that decision.
Nevertheless, despite my not getting much in the way of writing done, November 10th was a good day.