Solo Dad and the Grand Adventure

Well, calling my day out with the kids this Sunday a “Grand Adventure” might be laying it on a bit thick. The three of us (Lulu Belle, Short Stack and I) decided that rather than knocking around the home stead on such a beautiful July day, that we’d strike out and have an adventure. Action Girl was working a full day today so it was just dad (me) and the kids. For those of you who might not me keeping track, Short Stack is two and a half now and thus, chatty, inquisitive, funny and hard to keep track of. Lulu is only three months and is by far the easiest to deal with as far as kid-maintenance goes. Two caveats… Short Stack, though chatty, inquisitive, etc, etc, is also of the age where he wants to do stuff that is not necessarily on the agenda. This can be problematic. Lulu, though a cooing little ball of pink who fits nicely in a car seat, can go from smile to full on air raid siren in .3 seconds with no rhyme or reason and there is no talking her out of it.

I try very hard not to let these things effect my decisions. I flat out refuse to be held hostage to what MIGHT happen. Life’s too short to worry about all the stuff that could go wrong. I get in a lot of trouble for following that line of thinking sometimes. It’s usually worth it though.

So, the original idea was to zip up the Maine coast to surprise and visit Action Girl. She works as a sea captain and I thought I knew the harbor she was going to be in at noon. Luckily, at the last minute, I called. Nope, she wasn’t taking that route today. I would have missed her and far worst of all, I would have gotten Short Stack all revved up to see Mom and then not have delivered the goods. To put things mildly, that could have been a very bad scene.

So, my choices were to head back home or throw caution to the wind and simply call it a road trip day. I decided on the road trip.

With no particular plan in hand, I picked “North” as our direction. Not only north, but north via pretty secondary roads. This worked for about three minutes. “Where’s Momma? Daddy, where’s Momma? Where’s Momma? Daddy? Wh…”

Ok… have to think fast… “Hey Short Stack, maybe we’ll see a water tower.” Silence from the back seat. Short Stack has a few very important areas of interest in his life. Trucks rate at the highest but there are others that can completely derail his current train of thought as well. Water towers, for what ever reason, are a particularly effective distraction. “Where’s da water tower? I can’t seeeee it.”

The next few minutes were comprised of me trying to explain to my back seat occupant that he couldn’t see the water tower yet because we weren’t near one. I also was stepping on it in an effort to get off Old Route 1 and to the highway. The next water tower was at least ten miles away, and I didn’t know how long I could keep his interest and my sanity. Lulu Belle seemed unimpressed with the entire situation.

After about a thousand iterations of why we couldn’t see the much vaunted water tower yet, it’s bulky green mass finally loomed into view. All was right with the world and Short Stack was grinning from ear to ear. “Dare it iiiiiiiiis!”

As I continued on past it, I was quickly given directions from the back. “Daddy will back up, please. Want to see it again. Daddy… Want to see it again!”

Think, think, think…. COWS!

“Hey Short Stack, let’s see cows!” I was greeted with more blessed silence as this information was digested. We bumped along and the roads got smaller and rougher. I knew that there was a farm down this way and I thought that I remembered that they welcomed the public. Actually, I preyed that they welcomed the public. This is the danger of winging it. “Where’d da cooooooows go?”

Come ooooooon, COWS!

The fates smiled and they had a wonderful little set up for visitors. Diapers were changed, children were fed and shoulders were burped on. Then, we were off to see the cows in the barn. As it turns out, there were far more than just cows. Goats, sheep, and pigs rummaged around in neat, clean stalls and chickens wandered all over. Short Stack desperately wanted to touch a chicken but the combination of his and their skittish behavior made this highly predictable. He never made it closer than a meter. Lulu Belle watched the whole show from over her pacifier, Maggie Simpson style. “Nook, nook, nook.” What a good baby!

We spent perhaps an hour there looking at the animals and riding the thoughtfully provided toy tractor around the barn. After knocking the majority of the poo out of his and my footwear, we hopped back in the car and headed off back down the road. It was lunch time and we needed hot dogs. We discussed hot dogs at length as I scanned the various road side stands. He has a book called “The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog” and we quoted it back and forth as I tried to locate at lunch stand.

Lulu had nodded off and missed the Hot Dog vendor I stopped at as well as our witty banter involving birds and processed meats. The seating arrangements at the stand were fine but rudimentary and I was not going to risk waking her. We continued on with me handing french fries, one by one over my seat into the waiting pudgy hands behind me. After a few false starts, we finally found not only shade to sit in and eat our hot dogs, but a play ground to boot.

More diaper changes, a hundred tips up and down the slide by Short Stack, punctuated by his dad calling him in for bites of lunch and another happy hour passed. I noticed various approving looks from other moms at the playground and I’d be a liar if I said that it didn’t make me feel proud. I was a dad out by my self with my two little kids and we were having fun.

Action Girl happened to be back in port by the time we were ready to head home and we stopped in for a visit. We managed to find her a hot dog of her own at a street vendor and presented it to her with pride. She got lunch and a cuddle from her kiddos and a kiss from me before we headed out for home. Short Stack was pooped and was out cold as we pulled into the drive way. I put the windows down, brought in Lulu Belle and let him sleep.

As I sat down with my daughter, I realized something about the day’s adventure. It had been a success and a good time but the realization hit me that I would be the only one to remember it. Short Stack is still too young for the memory to stick and Lulu Belle… well. This would be my memory, alone. Rather an odd thought, really.

It was a little tricky to pull off, naturally, but it’s a day I’ll always remember as being special. It was my first day out adventuring with the kids on my own and they had both behaved wonderfully. I can’t wait to do it again.

I wouldn’t have minded a little help, though. Next time, I think I’ll check Action Girl’s sailing schedule a bit closer and be in the right port at the right time.

8 Responses

  1. Some memories are only meant to be remembered by one person. That’s what make them special and everyone unique.

    Very Zen. Really! No sarcasm implied. Thanks.

  2. well, now they can read about it, when they get older 🙂

    I hope so! I’ll make sure it’s printed out in some form.

  3. You are one VERY daring and courageous man.

    Also, if you are the only one to remember, you can add crusty details later on such as your valiant slaying of the water tower dragon.

    Thanks! I refuse to be held hostage by possibilities. I wanna play too!
    I think I might add the dragon to the story. Short Stack knows about them already!

  4. Now that’s what my mother would call a “golden day”.

    Very well written and I had a smile on my face all the way through.

    I hope you print this out for your kids to see when they get older.

    Thank you, Razz. a “Golden Day” is the perfect way to put it. It seemed like it lasted forever (in a good way). I’ll make sure that they get the chance to read it too.

  5. People certainly don’t seem to appreciate the ‘sunday drive’ as much as they used to. Every time I mention trying one all I get are groans from the three women in my life (ages 33, 13 and 9).

    Here’s a link to my favorite KY water tower for Short Stack.


    That fan-TASTIC! I love it when a community has enough of a group sense of humor to do something like that! It would sound kind of funny coming out of Short Stack, but I bet I could get him to say “Y’all”. He’s growing up with a nice, strong Downeast accent. Yessah!

  6. Thanks for sharing your adventures with your little ones. Long ago when my sons were little I had opportunities to have similar adventures. Taking my boys out on the town with out my wife in attendance was always an adventure. We called these times “working with out a net”. Now that my children are in their late teens and early twenties we refer to it as “playing without adult supervision”.

    Oooh! I like that last definition! I can see that time coming and look forward to it with a big mischievous grin!

  7. It would sound kind of funny coming out of Short Stack, but I bet I could get him to say “Y’all”. He’s growing up with a nice, strong Downeast accent. Yessah!

    My father-in-law, who is from Osterville, MA does a pretty good Maine accent. I find it to be very tricky to bite off the end of those words.

    On the flip side, a Southern accent isn’t too hard to master (I don’t think). Mine certainly gets worse whenever I’m drinking or at the farm for the weekend. Interestingly though, my wife has lived here for 28 of her 33 years and still sounds like a Yankee.

    It’s interesting the effect that alchohol has on accents, isn’t it? I have a friend who you’d never guess is Irish… until the drinking gets out of hand. Very entertaining.

  8. ‘working without a net’ or ‘playing without adult supervision’ usually comes out in my house as ‘it’s a good thing for you, mister, that I’m not fighting for custody,’ because it means he’d lose. And no, we’re not even thinking about separating… never mind divorce. Last night’s pull-up/poop/blow-out incident is a prime example.

    It’s great when a dad can take charge and have fun with his kids. H is there with Scout now. Not so much with Lil’bug. He needs her to be more independent (i.e., potty-trained, less prone to tantrums). I love seeing the dads at daycare, dropping off or picking up. That didn’t happen so much when Scout was small. It was all on the moms.

    I was bent and determined not to shrink from being a hands on dad. I’ve had both kiddos all day today with no help. Granted it’s been at home, but still… the diapers alone! EW!

    As for “pull-up/poop/blow-out”, around here were refer to that as a “hull breach!” or “Complete failure of the containment unit”. What can I say, we’re nerds.

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