“It’s Good For Them”

I went to the American Historical Association conference this weekend. I got to spend 36 hours with only adults. I got to see old friends, meet with my editor, connect with new scholars, eat amazing food, and sleep uninterrupted. I feel incredibly guilty.

On the way home, I had to explain to the airport security lady that she should let me carry on 40 ounces of liquid, despite TSA’s 3-ounces-only rule, just because this was breast-milk. She was surprisingly understanding. “Who are you delivering this to, honey?” she asked. It’s for my own baby, I explained, who I’d abandoned all weekend, left with his poor father. “Oh,” she reassured me, “it’s good for them. It’s good for dads to have a weekend with their kids.”

I think she’s right, and I think, actually, that it’s good for all of them. Here is just one of the skills that Sophie learned this weekend, from her dad:

Yup. I had to wait til after I had stopped laughing, after I took this photo, and after I praised her surprising skills of strength and not-spilling, until I could finally bring myself to explain to her that it’s not actually a good idea to drink straight from the jug.

Soph got to eat mac’n’cheese for nearly every meal, this weekend. She got to watch 6 videos — which sounds like a lot until you realize that’s actually only 3 hours of television, which is what most kids get in a day. (Soph only gets tv on weekends, and it’s mostly PBSkids videos — and I don’t think it’s ever been 6 videos, so, really, we’re probably depriving her of critical pop-culture by being so puritanical about screentime, most of the time.) She got to build a model truck with her dad and go to the beach with him too. She discovered that she can dress her larger stuffed animals in Everett’s clothing. And she got to go two full days without a shampoo — which is most four-year-old’s dream.

Everett got to learn what a bottle was. He got extra time with his dad. And when Everett fell asleep in the car, Ben gave Sophie $5 and sent her in to our neighborhood doughnut shop ALL BY HERSELF while he sat outside with sleeping Ev. Soph reports that it took a while before the man behind the counter noticed she was there, and then she had to say “Two maple donuts, please” three times before he understood her, but she did it, she bought her own doughnuts.

It wasn’t an easy weekend, but it was good for them. She bought her own doughnuts, learned to drink from a jug, gained some independence, got a break from my strictures. Ben managed to keep two kids happy and healthy. I got time to be just a professor again, time that makes me a better mommy in the long run, I hope.

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