by Meryl Neiman
I'm posting from San Diego. My children are quiet, asleep in their beds. My husband is also asleep (although decidedly not quiet -- he snores!). For the first time in days, I have a moment to myself.
I'm on vacation. Or am I?
I'm in San Diego -- land of sun, water, and postcard perfect vistas. Since we arrived late day Monday, my kids and I have done it all.
We went to Sea World and marvelled at Shamu's athletic process. We fed fish to dolphins and patted their smooth heads (they feel like hot dogs, one child announced).
The next day it was on to the San Diego zoo. The polar bear amused us as he played with a traffic cone. The pandas endeared us (until momma panda had a non photographic moment -- a biological event that happens about 25 times a day now that pandas are vegetarians). One of the giraffes amazed us as she wrapped her snakelike tongue around a leaf.
This morning we took the trolley to Old Town. We visited San Diego's first public school and my children saw their very first dunce cap. They got to dip their own candles and learned about chamber pots! After returning to the hotel, we caught the water taxi to Coronado where we lunched at the beautiful Hotel Del Coronado and frolicked on the expansive beach. And don't forget the daily late afternoon swim in the resort's pool.
My husband's here for a conference. It's the American Academy of Child Psychiatrists. He's busy most of the time with meetings and presentations. So I've been doing a lot of single parenting. Trying not to raise my voice too loud when my son pushes extra buttons on the elevator. After all, I'm single parenting in front of a hotel full of child psychiatrists! They might not find my threats of lost dessert up to par with the latest child development research.
In the midst of this single parenting, I'm also juggling a variety of social expectations. My father in law is also a child psychiatrist and so he and my mother in law are here for the conference as well. Although my in-laws live in Pittsburgh they live in the South Hills, and rarely venture into the city. They want some quality time with their grandchildren. Friends of ours who recently moved to Ohio are here for the conference. Their daughter and my son grew up together and all four kids are very close. Clearly, we want time with them. And my sister who lives in San Francisco happens to be in San Diego for her law firm's annual partner retreat. She's single, without kids, and for the day she had free she wanted the undivided attention of her niece and nephew.
And, of course, none of these people want the kids without me. They don't want to parent. They don't want to remind my seven year old that utensils were created for a purpose. They don't want to be the one to tell my kids that it is time to leave the pool. Or that sightseeing is not about accumulating souvernirs, but enjoying the experience. They certainly don't want to be the one nagging my son about the pile of school work that he hasn't touched.
The parent job is left to moi. And so I'm tired. I'm in beautiful San Diego and I'm tired.
But yet, I got to see my children touch a dolphin for the very first time. I got to watch my son try out his spanish on Dr. Boris and my five year old daughter crack her first crab and proudly wear her bib as a superhero cape. And so it's a good kind of tired.
I can get some rest when I'm back in cold and dreary Pittsburgh, my kids have returned to school, and my butt is back in my chair where it belongs.