In a week my son starts pre-K. The time is right — Felix says he wants more friends, that he’s a “big boy,” ready for school. He’s bored being home with Daddy all the time, and what can I say? I’m tired of figuring out how we’re going to spend our time together, too.
For the past four years we’ve passed the majority of each weekday in one another’s company, and we’re both lonely for peers and also just in need of a change. It’s become a little claustrophobic around here! This summer it seemed like we spent more of our time trying to figure out what to do then actually doing anything. “Want to go to the playground?” I’d ask.
“No, I’m tired of that,” he’d tell me. “How about we play with my Toy Story guys?”
“No, I need to get out of the house. Let’s go to the park.”
“The park’s boring.”
We would end up whining at one another, like an old married couple unhappily stuck in their ways. And so we did a lot of chores together, and ran errands — you know, the things that two compulsive neatniks enjoy. But throughout I got the sense that we were biding time, each of us craving independence, space away from the other.
And now that school is finally on the horizon, I’ve been thinking back over the past four years and realizing that there are a lot of things about our time together that I’m going to miss, moments that I’ll replay when I think back to Felix’s childhood. Here are a few of the highlights…
Wearing Matching Hawaiian Shirts! 1 of 13
Ok, so maybe we'll still be able to do that even when he goes to school. But click on to find the things I'll really miss about being at home with my son...
Eating Snacks 2 of 13
I'm a three-meals-a-day kind of guy, with little to no snacking in between. That is, I was until Felix came along. He showed me the delight of stopping midmorning for a smoothie or a some carrot sticks, or how a bad mood can sometimes be cured by putting a little something in the tummy. (Oh man, you can tell I've spent a lot of time with a little kid if I'm using words like tummy!)
Taking Afternoon Ice Cream Breaks 3 of 13
Not only did I never snack, but I saved sweet treats for dessert. Until Felix introduced me to the mid-afternoon ice cream break, just the thing for when you're lagging on a hot summer day. Our local ice cream shop stocks toys in a little play area for the kids, so heading out for a cone could turn into an afternoon's worth of fun.
Watching Movies on Rainy Days 4 of 13
I've always loved rain, the perfect weather for curling up with a book. Felix and I did plenty of reading on rainy days, but we would also watch movies too. It's a magical feeling, curling up with your child on a dark Tuesday morning, when the rest of the world is at work or school. Like being a kid again.
Walking in the Rain 5 of 13
One thing I never did on rainy days was go for walks, but Felix loves splashing and stomping in the rain. Sometimes we'd invent reasons to go outside in the wet, the exact opposite of how I felt about the rain before being a stay-at-home dad. Those wet puddle-hopping walks, and our explorations in the park and playground after big storms, were like seeing the world anew.
Building Forts 6 of 13
Why did I ever stop stringing blankets from the furniture and crawling into soft, dark caves to read books and daydream? Felix and I spent many afternoons curled up in these little dens, passing the time by doing not much of anything other than laughing.
Observing Nature in the Garden 7 of 13
Used to be that I would see a butterfly flitting by, or the shadow from a cumulus cloud blocking the sun, and I'd go back to my work. Then I had a little boy, and I started taking him outside to share with him the joys of the natural world. We spent a lot of early mornings looking, listening, and playing in the dirt. It was wonderful.
Taking Naps 8 of 13
I love a good nap! But I never rested as well as I did with my little guy curled around me. For a while when Felix was having nap troubles we would nestle up together, and I'd tell myself I'd get up after a quick bit of shut eye. Then Felix would drift off, and next thing you know, an hour or two had flown by.
Going on Field Trips 9 of 13
Many days, when I couldn't bear being at home, I'd pack a bag with snacks and, way back when, spare diapers and we'd hit the subway. Where to? The Brooklyn waterfront, or Central Park, or Chinatown. Here, Felix is taking in the fountains at the MoMA. We went all over this town!
Trainspotting 10 of 13
I don't ever remember being into trains, but Felix has loved them since he was little. Often we'd walk to the bottom of our streets to watch the Long Island Rail Road trains come in and out of the yard. Felix would wonder where they were off to, and we both liked watching the conductors inspect the engines.
Hanging out at Playgrounds 11 of 13
We became playground connoisseurs, familiar with many spots in downtown Brooklyn. This one was good to go to on sunny days, that one was the spot for playing in the sand. Now when I see one, I find myself counting the sliding boards, or evaluating how many good hiding spots it has for a game of chase. Sure, the long hours walking around the equipment waiting for Felix to tire out became tedious, after a while. But I'll miss the squeals and laughter of the kids, and the joyful smiles of the littlest ones, learning to walk.
Playing with Felix’s "guys" 12 of 13
On most days I would say playing for hours with Felix's Toy Story guys drives me crazy, but of course there's a small part of me that enjoyed putting on those voices and using the guys to make up fantastic adventures. The bed would become a car, the rug a beach, and that Evil Emperor Zurg always learned that it's better to treat people with kindness then be a mean jerk. Good times.
Hanging Out in the Sunshine 13 of 13
The best part of being home with Felix? Those random times in the middle of the morning, or just after lunch, when the world was quiet and we'd be out at the park or the Brooklyn Botanic Garden just taking in the sun. We'd notice and wonder and talk. Or sometimes, maybe the best times, we'd just sit quietly together and observe. A father and son don't need to talk to feel connected. My days won't be the same without those moments of quiet togetherness sprinkled throughout them.