TL;DR: Last week of my leave ended with some epiphanies and personal growth. I still firmly believe I’d rather be a stay at home dad than a working dad.
I’m glad to say that I bounced back from week 3 with great success. I finally broke through some mental barrier and felt a strange calm wash over me. I started controlling my emotions better. I still get angry when Sempi does something that I explicitly asked him not to do, but I don’t show that anger to him. I use a calm, stable voice to express my displeasure and gently ask him not to do it. I firmly request him to apologize for what he did and it works nearly 80% of the time.
Yoshi has given this advice to me in the past “When Sempi is having a bad time, try to be calm and emotionally stable. That way he can rely on us to find his bearings”. It finally clicked for me. It’s a simple advice that is hard to follow. But so far keeping my cool has resulted in a reasonably well-behaved kid.
We had a couple of playdates at our place with two different kids. Sempi played well with one of the kids, the other playdate was more like the two kids played in the same room but didn’t really bother interacting with each other. So I’d say it was a resounding success.
I took our neighbor’s kid (Sempi’s school mate) to rock climbing. She was a total champ. After about the 10th time, I had to restrict her climbing so she wouldn’t end up with muscle cramps. The abundance of energy found in 3 year olds is incredible.
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The strange epiphany here is that managing toddlers is easier when there is more than one of them. I could have just gotten lucky but so far the 3 afternoons with 2 toddlers have been a breeze compared to the rest of the afternoons when it’s just me and Sempi.
Adventures in cooking. I made eggplant rigatoni. I’m glad to say it wasn’t a complete disaster. Yoshi liked it a lot.
Yoshi helped Sempi make truck shaped muffins. They were delicious. Sempi asked me to pack some in his lunch to give to his teachers. It was so sweet. Later I found out he ate all of those extra pieces that were packed for his teachers. I should’ve known better.
My mentor and friend, Graham is in town for PyCon and he brought a Lego Construction Set for Sempi. Sempi was in cloud nine while building his trucks from scratch.
During week 1, I said Sempi still prefers his mom and I have 3 more weeks to change that. I’m happy to report this hasn’t really changed but I do have the following conversation to report.
I do my usual breakfast routine where I sit him down at the breakfast table and put a bib on him while singing “I put a bib on you, ‘cause you’re mine…”. Usually he retorts with “I don’t belong to you, I belong to Amma”. But today Sempi said, “I AM yours, because we sleep together”. I was so moved by his reply, I didn’t even have the heart to make some crude joke about it.
A little bit of context. I sleep in the bedroom with Sempi and Yoshi sleeps with the baby in the other room, so we don’t disturb Sempi’s sleep during night time feedings. Hence his comment about sleeping together.
I’m glad to have the paternity leave end on a positive note. Overall, it has been a very positive experience for me. I now have a better appreciation of what Yoshi goes through on a daily basis. More importantly I got a chance to bond with Sempi that wouldn’t have happened without this leave. I went into this hoping to be a helping hand and came away with increased awareness and maturity.