Our program for today consisted of mostly ‘finding our bearings’. We know where we are, don’t worry… But going on camper trips in a small van with two adults, a toddler, and a baby always takes some smoothening time. We basically have to reinvent our methods of parenting, with the major differences being that our son now isn’t in daycare, and that I’m actually present during most of the baby’s active hours. The fact that we’re hundreds of kilometers away from home doesn’t even matter all that much.
It’s always exhausting during the first two or three days. But it’s also fun to see the transition taking place, where we are all easing into being so close together. For the past weeks our baby daughter has acted like I was a complete stranger. I couldn’t even come near her, let alone pick her up, without her bursting into tears, accompanied by a loud air siren. Today, I’ve been playing with her on the beach and in the van, I walked her to sleep in her baby sling thing, and managed to make her laugh and smile a whole lot more than I’ve seen in the past weeks. Honestly, I truly believe that she didn’t know me anymore. The hour of breakfast and the hour during dinner are simply not enough to bond with a child, and these slots unfortunately are all I get with her while I am at work. Two days into our trip, we’re already reconnecting!
It’s fun to get to know my daughter better. Seven months old, but already with lots of personality. I remember that my son had this too. Interestingly, though, they are complete opposites. My son was always quiet and observant – very careful too (never going out of our sight, often studying flowers and insects, but always very gently) whereas my daughter is extremely outgoing, cannot sit still, and is quite reckless (she’ll eat anything, from bread, to stones, to cigarette buds, and she’ll crawl-jump off anything regardless of height). She can’t crawl yet, but she’ll need a leash…
It’s also fun to be around my son more, although we were always closer. I’ve seen him grow up from very close during all the pandemic lockdowns. We were all ‘stuck’ together for two years, and I loved that part of the whole situation. I’m also taking up most of the morning and evening rituals with him these days, while my wife is nursing the baby. A division by necessity, but I think it has created a strong connection between me and my son. During this trip, I hope I can enthuse him a bit for more active stuff. In response to his baby sister being carried around a lot, he wants the same treatment. I’m not sure if lazy is the right term for it, but it’s close. I’ve had to carry a little person on my shoulders or hanging around my neck a lot. It’s understandable behavior, but I think it wouldn’t hurt him to run and jump around some more. I’m already seeing more running and jumping today, so that’s good (and more running and jumping with him wouldn’t hurt me either).
Of course I also hope to have fun with my wife, Heike. With all the focus on the little ones, it’s sometimes easy to forget that we’re here together. But we are! Every conversation is broken up into small incomprehensible chunks by kids interrupting. Many conversations end up unfinished. That I miss. Conversations. Being able to just be together uninterrupted somewhere, and enjoy the beauty of a place, like we used to do. We had one of those short conversations today about what we always did to spend our days in our trips, before the kids were there. Perhaps I’ll write a story about that for somewhere next week…?