Victor and I hardly saw each other this past week. He spent his nights with his mother, and his days and afternoons with his grandmother. I’m sure they treated him great, but it’s going to make for a pretty short update.
Diane’s boss left the province for a week, maybe longer, and basically left her in charge of the store. So Victor spent a few hours in the morning at work with his mother, then I’d take him until she was done her shift. Then it was back to mom while daddy took Andrew — Victor’s 4.5-year old older brother — out on adventures.
I spent more time with Andrew this week than any other in the eighteen months I’ve known him. Which is probably a good thing. I’m still trying to figure out what our relationship is, or should be. Someone wise in these things told me it’ll be determined by him, and it’ll probably be something along the lines of “adult = moving play structure”.
So we spent a lot of time at the parks in town, and exploring. On Wednesday we walked the eight blocks or so from downtown Vankleek Hill down into the “New Development” — which was new thirty-years ago, where there’s a small and mostly useless park.
I brought a cloth bag so, along the way, we could pick up strange stones, flowers and leaves for his mother. Andrew got right into that.
On Tuesday we ended up at the main park, where we kicked a ball to each other, he got on the “big boy” swings, and almost managed to get across the monkey bars all by himself — just getting from rung to rung on his own was a huge step for him. Then we splashed around on the splash-pad.
We did play video games together for about thirty minutes each day, but when he’s with his dad the video game is the babysitter, and he can spend anywhere from two hours to two days in front of MarioCart, so I don’t feel too guilty. We did play together though, which is not something he’s used to.
Andrew does listen to me, which is something I’m surprised at. Holding my hand while we cross the street is automatic now.
I don’t think what I’m doing is “parenting”, I think I’m babysitting. At least thinking like that made this week a lot easier on me. I used to be a pretty decent babysitter when I was a young dude, so once I got into that frame of mind everything seemed to get a lot easier.
It’s like, when I was thinking about being a “parent” to Andrew, I was thinking “what lessons can I offer without getting between Andrew and his father?”, but once I got into “babysitter” mode it was like “okay, lets go on an adventure”, and off we went.
When I was seventeen I spent a summer volunteering as a counsellor at a summer camp called Frontier Lodge, in the Eastern Townships of Quebec — kind of near Magog. It was run by a mostly-well-meaning evangelical church in Montreal and, over two two-week camps, they put me in charge of two groups of 8-year old kids. And I was pretty good at it.
The trick is to keep the kids occupied long enough so they forget the annoying crap they wanted to do.
It was a bit easier at Frontier Lodge… I taught both canoing and archery, plus I wore a Union Jack as a scarf. At camp, it doesn’t get much cooler, or distracting, than that.
With Andrew I’ve developed three new measurements of time: later; laterlater, and; laterlaterlater. ‘Later’ means after we’re done doing what we’re doing. ‘Laterlater’ means we’re going in this direction for another hour first, then we’ll turn around. And ‘laterlaterlater’ means ‘after dinner, and possibly before bed, but don’t count on it’.
He picked up on them pretty quick, and has accepted them… at least for now.
We had a lot of fun this week. I’m constantly worried that we’ll be alone (ie: without Diane) in a store, or on the street, and he’ll freak out. But so far he’s listening. I think most of his willingness to listen comes from him not getting outside nearly enough.
At this point his father is almost entirely absent, I think it has been a month since they’ve seen each other. And when they are together their time is mostly spent inside, and the Wii is the babysitter. So the kid has energy to burn. He does spend a lot of time outside with Diane’s parents, working in their garden or just hanging out with his grandfather.
And he does spend time at the park, or going on walks, or working in the community garden with his mom, but a lot of that time is with Victor, and I definitely get the feeling Andrew is feeling neglected when Victor is around.
I’m thinking about trying to split my week into Andrew Days and Victor Days. I definitely don’t want a repeat of last week, where I only saw my son for a couple of hours… at least while he was awake. But I should be spending a lot more time — regularly — with Andrew. After all, we’re family.
Photo Of Victor’s Week: