Thursday, April 13, 2006

Presence

They say 99% of luck is just showing up. Parenting is kind of like that, I guess: 99% of what I do as a stay-at-home dad is just being with the Monkey, and being available to him.

But lately I am finding it a little challenging to be present all the time: actively attentive and engaged, talking to him, playing with him. Of course, play-time, guitar-time (he has been strumming for months), and feedings are inherently engaging. But with the Monkey in the carrier or the stroller, it's possible to zone out a little. And when we're home together just us two, and it's not a feeding or a nap or another engaging activity, there is a strong temptation to surf the web, check email, read a magazine, or just generally do my own thing.

Maybe showing up is 99%, but being present brings you to 99.99%. And the Monkey requires all 99.99% attention right now -- at a minimum. He is crawling...and fast. If he is heading towards the stairs, or an electric cord, or the bathroom, he is there almost as quickly as he can think it. He is pulling up on furniture, and could easily tumble down onto his noggin or even bring entire lighter pieces of furniture down on top of himself. And aside from the physical risks, he is always working on something intellectually and emotionally, and he needs some guidance and support.

So I guess this is the hard part. Although experienced parents perpetually tell me that the next phase is always the hardest...

It occurs to me that I haven't been to playgroup -- either of them -- for almost a month now. For a couple of weeks, I was holding the Monkey out of playgroup witha sniffle or a fever, out of respect for the other kids and parents. But neither of the playgroups seem to have convened in the last couple of weeks, despite the fact that we are both fit as fiddles. The playgroups provide the Monkey with other people his own size and shape to focus on, and me with a chance to talk to adults that are equally engaged with parenting. The playgroups are good for both of us, and not just while we're there but for the rest of the week too.

Or who knows? Maybe I'm just burning out a little after 4 months on the stay-at-home dad beat. I don't really think that's it, though. (It's gotta be the playgroups.)

Apropos of nothing, Presence is also a late-period Led Zeppelin album. I used to have them all.

2 Comments:

At 3:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sure hope you take a camera for the first hair cut. A small envelope would come in handy to collect clippings of Monkey's hair.

 
At 2:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Eighty percent of success is showing up." - Woody Allen

 

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