Long-time readers are aware that I’ve taken a lot of “me” time this year – I’ve been putting some real effort behind another passion of mine (curling) and taking time to pursue it. This has had me gone for a couple of weekends, leaving the burden on her to watch the kids, and so turnabout’s fair play. And while she won’t take a weekend to herself, the least I can do is take the kids for periods of time on the weekend to give her a breather.
Autism, of course, complicates it. There are serious limits on what I can take the kids to do, since the Monster’s patience for certain things is very limited, but I’m not going to let it stop me from giving her the time to do other things herself. (I’ve been trying to encourage her to find ways to spend a few weekends wholesale away from the kids – or take a trip to visit some of her friends further afield – but she’s not been game for that.)
I like think the boys appreciate the time with me too. I have a very different parenting style than my wife, born out of the fact that I was raised differently than she was, but I’d also like to think that I can be perfectly fun. When I’m with them, we’ve gone to the library and the playground, we’ve done some shopping, gone to lunch…
I remember some of the early days with both R and the Monster, when I’ve taken them out. Some of the funny looks I’ve gotten, being a dad with his kids, and how folks react to a father out with their kids without Mom.. and then there are also the good ones.
Yesterday was a good example, though. I took the kids to BJ’s (the restaurant/brewpub) for lunch, since it’s quieter there on Saturdays at lunch and I know they’ll eat what is on the menu. Both kids were perfectly well behaved – aside from having to keep R, who is being a very typical and rambunctious 4 year old, on track – and no one really batted an eyelash at the three of us sitting in a booth by ourselves, even with me having a beer, and I don’t feel like anyone was judging me for how I was parenting. Both kids ate their food, and aside from the fact that we were probably quieter than most families out, since the Monster’s not really conversational and my conversations with R kept going back to “please eat your lunch”… it was really nice. The only downside was that, because it was so quiet, no one really seemed to notice my blue Autism shirt or asked questions.
And my wife got to do something for herself – a bit of shopping for herself without children underfoot, and a few quiet hours where she could play adult – and I’m glad for it. This’ll be the pattern for the next few weekends too, since I’m taking the kids to the zoo next Saturday with Baltimore Dads Group and then probably taking them to my curling club’s closing BBQ the weekend after…
But seriously – lunch out without problems. I’ll take that any day of the week.