Saturday, May 31, 2014

Clara Withdrawal.

So this week Gerald and I went on our long awaited, belated honeymoon.  Belated, you say?   Well yes...belated for a few reasons.  One - we  dated, got serious, got pregnant and had a baby daughter all before getting married this past year when Clara was almost a year and a half.  And then there was the whole thing about us not wanting to leave our little girl, our little girl who looks less like a baby and more like a little kid every day.  Gerald has broached the idea of a vacation a few times over the nearly two years since Clara's birth. 

His first idea - Let's Take a Vacation With Clara.  Every time I thought about it all I could see was Clara in hotel rooms that weren't baby proofed without all her "things" that make her happy - like toys, and cribs, and routines. Never mind the fact that friends of mine had taken their baby son to Puerto Rico and had managed not to let him toddle off into the jungle to live with the animals. The whole idea seemed less like a vacation and more like an invitation to visit the Emergency Room. 

Gerald's second idea - Let's Take A Vacation Without Clara. Also problematic because whenever I thought about Clara being "old enough" to handle an extended separation from her parents the "safe" age for this to happen seemed to be somewhere around ten, or twelve or thirteen. Never mind the fact that my other friends had just taken a week-long, baby-free vacation to Mexico and their daughter was fine during and after their return. I just couldn't conceptualize the reality where I wouldn't see Clara for days.  The world where I didn't have a baby and just ran around doing things like going on vacations seemed impossibly far away.

Good thing Gerald said: We're doing this.  And the planning began. We decided on a three night stay in Atlantic City and lo and behold Gerald's parents offered to take care of Clara for the entire time at their house.  I worried about Clara in a new place - would she be up all night?  Would she fall down the stairs?  Would she pull down fragile things from reachable places and smash them?  And most worrying, would she cry and cry and cry?

So what happened?  I explained to Clara that she was going on an adventure with her grandparents and then we got on the bus to Atlantic City and Clara got in her car seat for her drive to upstate New York.  And then Clara proceeded to not realize even one of my fears for her.  Instead she slept the first night from 6:30 pm to 8:30 in the morning, allowing her grandparents to luxuriously sleep in. (A privilege she does not extend to her own parents I might add)  She then spent the next few days discovering her passion for lo mein noodles, eating organic cereal and bananas, practicing climbing up and down stairs without cracking her skull, hanging out at other people's houses, playing in the yard, and playing with a basketful of schnauzer puppies.  Hard life.

Clara meets a schnauzer.

Clara having cereal.

Clara trying Lo Mein for the first time.
Thanks to Clara being bold and brave on her adventure, and thanks to her loving grandparents for tackling the daunting task of entertaining a 22 month old for four days, Gerald and I got to go on an adventure of our own.  We slept in every day until 8:30 which felt like waking up at one o'clock in the afternoon. We wandered aimlessly, lounged, ate good food, talked to each other and made each other laugh.  And so what if thirty percent of our conversation was about our amazing daughter?  

Midday nap.

               A slightly disturbing exhibit at the aquarium.                  Gerald and Skunk.
Jeannine and Red Fox.

Channeling our inner "Mad Men" with gin martinis.

We had a great time away, and a great time coming home to see her.  When we walked into our apartment, Clara broke away from coloring with crayons to give us each a hug, then went back to drawing as if to say: "See, mom and dad, you had nothing to worry about."  That night when we sat down to dinner Clara ate her spaghetti and salad and then politely asked for some lo mein.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Conversations with Clara. Episode Three.

Spring is here and not a moment too soon.  After a winter spent trapped in the house bdue to frigid temperatures and endless mounds of dirty snow that strollers could not traverse, Clara and I were extremely stir crazy.  

So now we get to spend hours in Fort Tryon Park exploring and of course, talking.

Clara is fascinated by the family of groundhogs that live in the park.  And they are very cute.  Whenever we go into the park she starts walking around on various lawns calling out: "Hog...hog, where are you?" When she spots one she shrieks in delight which has the added effect of making the wild animal she should not approach scamper into the bracken.

The other day we were walking to the playground. With no groundhogs in sight, Clara focused on the plentiful dogs being walked by their owners.

CLARA: (points out a dog) Dog. (pause) Woof Woof. (pause...chuckles heartily to herself, then turns to look at me.) It's funny.

Clearly, Clara was trying out her comedy chops.  Possibly because her joke didn't get the proper response from me, she tried it out again, verbatim, when the next dog came her way.  This time I laughed with her. 

It's funny.