Friday, June 29, 2012

England Trip 2012: Getting There And Back

With the exception of the party game we discovered, I haven't blogged about our trip to England. I'm finally settled and able to look back and talk about it.

Other than some road trips, one of which was unplanned, Holly and I haven't travelled much in the last couple of years. Our last big trip was in August 2010. We like to travel, so it was time for us to get away.

The trip to England would be different because we traveled with our little guy. For him, it was his first plane ride and his first trip overseas. For us, it meant extra planning and thinking ahead. That's not a bad thing, though. Sure, we lose a little spontaneity, but everyone is a lot happier at the end of the day.

Before we could actually be in England, we had to get there.

The flights there and back were the most difficult part of the trip. Flying without an infant is obviously easier because your time and space is your own. You're hungry? Great. The food cart is coming. You're tired? Recline and take a nap, or watch a movie. Forget about all that with a little one who's in your lap for six-and-a-half to seven hours.

We flew British Airways because we read foreign carriers have better amenities for families traveling with infants and children. I'm glad we chose BA, but I'm also glad we had a little luck on our side.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I'm Not A Babysitter

It finally happened.

Holly and I were having lunch with another couple. I had just returned to the table when the male half of the couple across from us, who I had just met, leaned in to ask me a question. "So, how does it feel to be a..?" He paused, searching for a word. "...Babysitter?"

Huh?

I'm going to assume that this guy wouldn't have asked Holly the same question if she wasn't working and I was. The "how does it feel" part of his question implied, "As a man, how does it feel to be a babysitter?" Because it's a woman's job to perform the daily duties of caring and raising an infant (aka "babysitting") right?

That was the first time I had encountered that type of reaction to me not working and taking care of Spencer. I get the term "Mr. Mom" a lot. I don't particularly like it, because it implies child-rearing and maintaining the home are duties meant for women. Raising a child is the role of father, too. I'm not crazy about "househusband" either. I do cook and clean a lot, but I would probably do that if I worked (maybe not as much, though). Besides, Spencer and I get out as often as we can. We're not housebound.

I don't really take offense at those terms though. When I tell people that I don't work and I'm with Spencer, I get overwhelmingly positive responses, particularly from men. Some of them even say they wish they could do it.

The fact is, Holly and I are fortunate enough to be co-parenting: She's able to be home and spend a lot time with Spencer. While she's doing that, I'm able to write and figure out what I want to do with my professional life. (That's another post for another time.) So, househusband, Mr. Mom, whatever, doesn't really describe what I do anyway.

But this "babysitter" remark was the first time I was engaging with someone who clearly questioned the notion of a father not working to be at home with his child.

In the pause following his question, I figured out how to calmly respond.

"I'm not a babysitter," I said with a smile. I continued with something like, "I'm Spencer's father and I'm home raising him. I'm happy and very lucky to be doing it."

He nodded and smiled. I don't remember what he said after that, but we quickly moved on to something else. I realized that he probably wasn't judging me.. probably. I don't think he was trying to be condescending or insulting. He just couldn't conceive that a father could be his child's primary caregiver. He was having so much trouble putting it together, he just couldn't find the word to articulate it. The best one he could come up with was babysitter.

Maybe I opened his mind a little bit.

Friday, June 22, 2012

New Party Game: Find The Wedding Ring

Have you ever hosted a party and and found that the guests didn't mingle? Want to bring them together? 

Lose your wedding ring.

That's what I did at a gathering Holly hosted when we visited England. She invited friends and family she hadn't seen in a long time. Like any party, groups of friends and acquaintances coalesced around others they knew. That all changed when I looked at my left hand and realized my wedding ring was gone.

I was outside playing catch with my nephew. It was cool and rainy, so my fingers must've shrank a bit. And because I was catching a rubber ball barehanded, my hand was feeling numb. When I looked at my hand and saw the ring was missing, I was stunned. I never take it off and I was pretty sure I had seen it just a few minutes before. 

Within minutes of telling the first person about it, at least 20 people were outside in the rain looking for the ring. Some searched individually, others in teams. They were lifting benches and sweeping the grass with sticks. The folks inside the pub where the party was held were looking everywhere too, on the off-chance I had lost it inside. One searcher said to me, "We're not leaving here until we find it."  

Holly was fine with it. "You can always get another one," she said. But I wasn't happy. I felt like shit. I had already left my contact information with someone at the bar. I had given up hope.

About 15 minutes after I noticed it was gone, a miracle happened. The husband of one of Holly's high school friends put a piece of metal on the end of a stick and swept it back and forth in the grass. He waited to hear the *clink* metal makes when it hits another piece of metal, and voila! I have my wedding ring again. Holly put it back on my finger and re-sealed it with a kiss. 

I wanted to buy the guy a drink, but he was on antibiotics at the time and couldn't consume alcohol. Since he was unable to do that, his wife was the recipient of a rum and Coke. I bought myself one too. I needed it.

After it was over, Holly said it was like a treasure hunt. So was everyone else. It was a little bit of excitement that got the everyone in the party working together.

With the ring securely back on my finger, someone said to me, "That was great! What's the next group activity?"