This weekend was as good as it was bad. Mac is back on the midnight shift, after being screwed into staying on day shift somehow for over a year. The good thing about midnights is we see him a little more and it seems Nixon gets more one-on-one morning time, while I get more sleeping time (score!!). The bad thing is, with the way Nixon naps now, he's napping when Mac leaves for work so he misses sending Mac off to work. But a phone call at bedtime seems to have made it a little easier, plus the morning alone time with Mac seems to make Nixon a happy little guy.
Friday and Saturday were pretty much a wash, due to rain. We ran errands but that was about it. So, I mentioned taking Nixon to the zoo on Sunday so he could feed the "new" baby giraffe and the elephant. Now, I know Mac hates the Okinawa Zoo because it's habitats are sad looking (especially the big cat ones....very sad, depressed animals) but he did promise to go at least once to watch Nixon feed the animals. I figured after being cooped up all weekend and having spent the last 2 weeks recovering from his vasectomy and not being able to carry or hold Nixon at all, this seemed like a fun or potentially stupid outing. It turned out to be both.
The first part of the morning, breakfast at home, was great. I made omelets for Mac and I plus turkey bacon and pancakes. Nixon had the bacon, pancakes and yogurt. I started packing our drinks and snacks for the zoo and even though we left a little late we were on our way. The zoo was far less crowded than the last time I visited on a weekend (which is a plus because Mac hates crowds) so parking was a breeze. Nixon fell asleep about 3 blocks from the zoo, but as soon as he got out of the car and saw where we were he exclaimed "Monkey!! Zoo!!" and proceeded to try to run away from me towards the elevator...Mac was not impressed.
We made it by the ride area, without an epic meltdown! Mostly, in part, due to me carrying Nixon and explaining to him we had a big surprise for him we HAD to get to, so if he was extra well-behaved we'd ride the rides after his surprise. He just pointed to the motorcycle ride-on we rode on together last time at the zoo, "dat one, momma I ride dat one" and the train and the "notty fire truck, momma, dat one" as we walked by. But no fit. I was impressed, but I think Mac was waiting for Nixon to start screaming in protest. We managed to herd him to the kangaroos, so he could show Mac the baby "roos". He took off, running his little Nixon excited lope, and I let him go knowing I was watching him and there wasn't anyone around. Mac, wanted Nixon to stay right next to us. Nixon slowed down and started pointing out the kangaroos to Mac as we walked by the habitat and I pointed out a baby kangaroo to Nixon, who said "bye bye kangloroos" as we left the area.
Now, here is the one really amazing thing that I will miss about Okinawa and it's something that not even my glass half-empty husband can complain about: For the dollar equivalent of $3.60 in yen, Nixon got to feed 3 giraffes, by hand, including the new one year-old baby giraffe! He got up close and even had his hand licked by the baby giraffe as she (I think it's a she) took the greens from his hand. As a mom, I got to see my son RUN up a sidewalk excited because he knew what was inside the building and he couldn't wait to go feed the giraffes! Plus, Mac was with him, so Mac got to see and help Nixon feed the giraffes.
After the giraffes we went to feed the elephant. For a little more (about $4.80....the yet exchange rate is 79yen to $1.00, it was 200yen each to feed the elephant) Nixon got to feed an elephant long green shoots of bamboo looking things. I took pictures and Mac got to help him feed the elephant too. We tried getting a family picture in front of the elephant, but Nixon saw the other elephant in the enclosure next to us and freaked out screaming "baby elephant!!" so no family picture in front of the elephant for me. (I openly and selfishly admit to being disappointed over this, I really wanted this photo of the 3 of us, but I can't force Nixon to sit still and stop screaming when he wants to go see something else).
The hardest part about being the stay-at-home parent vs. the working parent is parenting technique. I know Nixon, so I'm okay with letting him run off some energy at the zoo, even if it means he's a little scattered and flip flopping in what he wants to do. He's 2.5 years old, he's naturally got a short attention span to begin with. I'm used to that. Mac....not so much. And his impatience and annoyance with Nixon's behavior took a toll not only on Nixon, but also on me and ultimately our whole day. It's very hard for me to not snap at him and tell him he's being an asshole by being overbearing or trying to control the entire situation. Instead I stepped back and let the two of them battle it out, because Nixon and I have had plenty of time to "battle it out" without Mac's interference and I really think it's the only way he (Mac) is ever going to find his parenting groove. But damned if I don't feel like I'm giving up at times and failing Nixon, when I know this is actually the right thing to do.
The whole thing boiled down to the fishing pond. I have my way of doing the pond. I buy the carp food and give Nixon the box. Nixon feeds the ducks, fish and pigeons one or two boxes then we're usually good to go. I tend to stand back and watch or snap some pictures, occasionally tossing in some food pellets but for the most part letting Nixon do what he wants with the food.
With Mac with us, it was....different. I bought the food and gave the box to Nixon, but started taking pictures. Mac, totally meaning well, took the box and started showing Nixon how to throw the pellets into the water instead of just dropping them in. At first, Nixon was really into that. And then he wasn't. So Mac got frustrated. Then Nixon got more frustrated. Then I've got a pissed off, melting down toddler and a frustrated, annoyed daddy on my hands at the same time. I can't make it better for both of them, one of them is going to be pissed. I realized, I HAVE to back up and support Mac's decision, even if I don't agree with it. United front and all....damned shared parenting.
In the end, we went home without riding any rides. Nixon's meltdown was too epic to be rewarded with any sort of ride. Even if I knew how to avoid the meltdown, I'd have been stepping on Mac's parenting toes and he's got to earn his stripes somehow. It's not fun to watch or fair to let the meltdown happen, but its a lesson they both have to learn. I had to learn my lessons the hard way, Mac's gotta learn his the same way. I can't keep teaching him HOW to be a dad, at some point he's got to figure some shit out on his own.
"Pick your battles" is a phrase I am constantly telling him. So far, he's not listening. Some day it will all sink in.....