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Calvin levels up

Started: 2012-03-27 07:51:35

Submitted: 2012-03-27 08:43:09

Visibility: World-readable

Calvin turned three yesterday, so we had a small birthday celebration, despite his protestations that he didn't want another birthday. (We first celebrated his third birthday earlier in the month when Kiesa's mother visited and gave him a couple of Duplo train sets from eBay, including #5 James from Thomas the Tank Engine and a bunch of (mostly curved) track.) Kiesa made brownies for dessert and Calvin opened a couple of presents: a card from my mother, a brightly-colored plastic tea set from Kiesa, eighteen straight and six curved Duplo tracks (which I found on eBay, after deciding I needed more straight track segments to build the layouts I wanted), and a big fire engine from my Logan grandparents.

Now that Calvin has turned three, his daycare promoted him to the first "preschool" room, so I feel justified in classifying him as a "preschooler" instead of "toddler". Almost every day he does something that surprises me, usually linguistically. He'll use a new word, or a new verb tense, or a complicated sentence structure, or show some new insight into the way the world works. (This insight is not always correct but it's usually easy to see where he might come to that idea.) His 'terrible twos' were, for the most part, a non-event (possibly given the trouble he gave us in the preceding two years); every once and a while he'll get upset and exhibit the emotional maturity of a two-year-old, but in that case I still out-mass him by five to one, so I can throw him over my shoulder and carry him wherever he needs to go.

Last week Kiesa went to the Computers in Libraries conference in Washington, DC, leaving me to take care of Calvin on my own. I was not enthusiastic about the idea of her leaving without Calvin, but she mumbled something that sounded like getting one of our mothers to come out for the week, which failed to materialize. I wasn't sure how much choice I had; I want to run an egalitarian marriage free of traditional gender stereotypes, which suggests each of us should have equal chance to go away for various outings, but as the conference approached, I began to dread being left alone with Calvin and felt trapped by my earlier capitulation to principle. (Regardless of what a hypothetical ideal may be, the reality on the ground is that Kiesa has made a number of choices (namely, working part-time from home), based on the relative market values of our careers, that give her far more experience with Calvin.) Kiesa either didn't understand or was entirely unsympathetic to my objections but did arrange for our default babysitter to come for several evenings to help me with Calvin.

Kiesa left on Tuesday. I picked him up from daycare after work, found supper in the freezer, and handed Calvin to babysitter Nina when she arrived at 19:00. Calvin seems to have finally gotten over his post-Christmas clinginess to Kiesa and managed to go to bed without too much trouble. On Wednesday I was entirely on my own; Nina couldn't make it in the evening, so I took Calvin to Noodles for supper, then to the Longmont Public Library ("train library") to play with the wooden train set. On Thursday, Calvin was doing so well I decided I didn't need Nina to come on Friday, but Friday was the only day Calvin got fussy and refused to go to bed. He demanded I draw him a story ("Mommy's Work Plane", in which Kiesa flies to her library conference and meets Thomas the Tank Engine) and post the panels on the wall of his room. I finally got him to sleep after what felt like heroic effort on my part.

The whole experience was less traumatic than I expected but I can't say I'm eager to repeat it. I still can't get Calvin up in the morning and out the door with enough time to make it to work for a full day and return in time to pick him up before daycare closes. I can sacrifice work time every once and a while but it's not something I can do on a regular basis.