Another mom arrives, one I know from music class. She has a little girl Aki's age who I like quite a bit. They begin to play together, and Aki starts sharing her snack with H—feeding dried cereal right into H’s mouth. H says Aki's name over and over as they eat the cereal. It's super cute and my heart swells. I love how happy my daughter is, and how generous she can be. She has her difficult moments, but overall I feel like I have an extremely gracious and thoughtful child.
Aki begins to yawn, so we head back for a small snack before her 11 am nap. I'm lucky today, and she sleeps for a couple hours. I manage to do a bit more writing, and even wash up the breakfast dishes before making lunch.
We recently got a television after ten years without one. It isn’t hooked up to cable or antenna (we watch movies and Netflix on it) but it's never on when Aki is awake. She’ll be at least three or four before we intentionally let her watch TV, possibly older. Our reasons for this are many and complicated, but since we don’t watch much anyway, it hasn’t been a big deal. The biggest effect on my day is that, since I don’t plop her down for an episode or two of Blues Clues, the only time I have for work is in the morning and during her nap. She can (and often does) play by herself, but I still need to keep an eye on Aki when she's awake. The last time I tried writing while she was playing, I later found six toy train cars in the cat’s litter box.
Aki wakes and I make some lunch. We read and play inside for a little bit, then get ready for our afternoon music class.
Music class is great. It's at a local coffee shop where they clear the tables and put down rugs. There are 8 to 10 other children, mostly girls, mostly around Aki's age, and we rattle and drum and sing songs about riding on the subway, and being a kid in the city. The whole thing is led by a talented and bouncy musician with tons of energy. Aki spends half the time staring at his antics in a daze, but she soaks it in. She often imitates the songs’ movements at home. In the middle of a lullaby, she runs off and sits in another mom’s lap. The mom cuddles her, and other parents coo. A bit later, a little girl about ten months old crawls over, and puts her hand on my knee. After some hesitation, I pick her up, cuddle her, then let her crawl away. The other parents coo.
As class winds down, the mother of an affectionate and gentle boy named D jokes that her son is turning into a little Lothario, as he's the only boy in the class. Everyone laughs, and then the musician, a great and not at all creepy guy, jokes that he was hoping to have his own harem until I showed up and created competition. Most of the mothers laugh, but I cringe, just a little, inside. Other neighborhoods have a higher stay-at-home dad quotient, but I haven’t met many here. It would be easier to be part of this community if everyone could forget that I’m a guy.