Monday, October 10, 2005

A road trip with a three-year-old and other adventures

J and I went to Louisiana this weekend to see my dad. It's been a long, rather eventful weekend, and I have lots on my mind to write about. I may not get it all down tonight, some may have to wait until tomorrow because I'm absolutely fried.

In the past, visits with my dad have been occasionally less than pleasant, and always on the stressful side even if there was no actual unpleasantness. Part of this was due to the fact that my dad has always been a serious control freak and has always had a bit of a short fuse, my mother ran interference between us while she was alive, and after her death, things were rough between my dad and me for a time. And part of this was due to the fact that K and my dad needed to be in the same space about like gasoline and a match. I don't think they ever got along much, and certainly not since 1996. So a trip home was something to be approached with fear and trembling, and a big ol' knot in my stomach, because I never knew what might happen or who might say what to set someone off. As my dad has gotten older, though, he's calmed down a little - partly due to my stepmother, because she takes no crap off of him, he'd get mad and she'd tell him exactly what he could do with it. My mother never did, and I think it shocked my dad so much that he didn't have a response for it! LOL And I can't say that he was torn up much to hear that K and I were separated, so I figured a trip home with just me and J might not be too bad.

And it wasn't. It's funny, but I guess I've grown up and maybe my dad is figuring that out, just a little. We could talk about subjects that were guaranteed stink bombs in the past, and I didn't get upset - if he was offering a thought, I just took it in the spirit in which it was intended and didn't take it personally. It was nice. And it just did my heart good to see J taking to my dad and stepmom so well. He hasn't been around them much at all - hard to get in visits when my dad didn't want to see K and K didn't want to see him. But J was just about as good as he could be, with the exception of a couple of horrific meltdowns and not eating much at all. I actually got to take an uninterrupted shower and have some time to myself, because J would go outside and just walk in the yard, up and down the driveway, with my dad and my stepmom. They'd go out behind the house to see if they could see a turtle or fish in the bayou (and they made sure J knew not to go near the water, he was telling me I couldn't go near the water! LOL). It just made me happy, and I know it made them happy. I hate that they've missed out on so much of the first few years of his life - and I know, my dad could have hopped in the car and come here, but if he had, he and K would have both been wretched the whole weekend (and truth be told, if I'd been between the two of them, I'd have been wretched, too). J had a blast - he got to run around outside pretty much all day yesterday, swing on the swings, look for fish and turtles, run away from the dog, throw the football outside, see the tractors (he wasn't interested in riding on them, though) and climb the stairs at my dad's house about 400 times. My dad has a horse, but she's with someone else at the moment, being trained and broken. Maybe next time we go, I can ride (not sure I'd let J do that quite yet, not on a horse that's still fairly young and green).

We also ran by to see K's parents on the way out of town. They were tickled to see us, as always, so I'm glad we made time to stop. We had lunch, and J made up for not eating at my dad's house. He ate a huge bowl of strawberries, a package and a half of cheese crackers (the little sandwich crackers, that come six to a package), six or seven shrimp, and a piece of garlic toast. He was hungry! And like they always do, K's parents loaded us up with goodies. They're wonderful. I won't ever be able to get remarried, because any subsequent in-laws would pale by comparison!

But it does hurt me that I let my marriage keep me apart from my dad for so long. Now that's not all of it - like I said, for a while things were rough between the two of us, and we had a hard time really talking after my mother died, so that didn't make me any too eager to get home. But things weren't helped by the fact that K and my dad just didn't get along, and neither of them would make an effort to get along. Stubborn pigheaded men. Sometimes I wonder if K ever thought about how it made me feel to be staying away from my family to keep him happy. I wonder how he would have felt had the shoe been on the other foot, had I not gotten along with his family. Being as how he didn't like my dad, he preferred to spend more of our times at home with his family, and being as how I was married to him and saw him every day (as opposed to seeing my dad only once in a while), I generally went along (not always, but generally), because I wanted to keep the peace between us. Even though I felt like this meant my family got the crumbs of holidays (you know, December 23 or 26 rather than Christmas Eve or Christmas Day), I wanted to keep our house here as happy as I could, so I tended to go along with what K wanted. But I realized this weekend that my dad is old. Yes, I've always known his age, and known intellectually that being in your late 70's is no spring chicken. But this weekend, he really *seemed* old for the first time. He's gotten a lot more frail since he was diagnosed with diabetes - I guess because he's lost a lot of weight. His hair was always black, not a lick of gray, until recent years, and this weekend I noticed that his eyebrows are gray. That's what really got me. He's slower to get around, more likely to forget things in a conversation, and it just really hit me that I won't have him here forever. And whatever knock-down-drag-outs we may have had in the past, I do not want my father to die thinking that I didn't care about him or thinking that he hadn't had the opportunity to get to know his grandson. So I'm going to make an effort to spend more time with him, and I told him that now that it's just me and J in the house, he can come anytime he likes - if it's messy, he can help me clean, and if I have ham sandwiches for dinner, he's welcome to share. :-)

Today has been tiring, though. J was worn out last night and finally fell asleep around 9:00 after having a screaming fit when I told him we weren't going back downstairs (we slept in the guest room upstairs at my dad's house, and J kept coming up with reasons why we should go back downstairs, just so he could come up the stairs again - he's fascinated with them). He woke up around 4:00 this morning asking for milk - I got him a cup of milk, he slurped it down, and he then asked for water. I got him a bit of water, and he slurped that down. The clock in the bedroom didn't work, so I'm not sure how long we laid down for, but all of a sudden I hear this coughing, choking sound. I turned the light on to find that J had upchucked all over the floor and himself. My poor baby. :-( He was fairly congested, so I figured it was due to sinus drip - he does that occasionally, and he wasn't acting sick in any other way. So we cleaned up, changed clothes, and I got him to lay back down. I'm not sure if he actually slept - I don't think I slept much, because he was really restless and I was listening to him. Around 6:00 he asked for water again. I got him a little bit, he inhaled it, and promptly barfed it all back up. And when J barfs, it comes out of his nose, so he was good and miserable having this happen a second time. We were up for the day then - I just plopped him in the bathtub for a good clean-up, and we got dressed and went downstairs. Then there was the long drive and the fact that he was tired from the night of interrupted sleep. He slept for about a third of the way back here - he'd fallen asleep before we got to where I'd planned to stop for gas, woke up there, and once we were back in the car, snarfed down a bag of donut holes (Shipley Donuts, mmmmmm!), screamed because he couldn't get his sunglasses on properly and I told him I couldn't do that while I was driving (he didn't need them, it wasn't real sunny, he just thought he wanted them), and promptly passed out. LOL Even after the nap, though, he was still pretty grumpy here. We were both just fried, and now he's snoring. And why am I not? I have no idea. Maybe I'll stop here and write more tomorrow, assuming I don't forget what I was planning to write about.

Good night!

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