This is the second year in a row we spent Father’s Day in Minneapolis with my good friends Chad and Parissa and their kids Lila and Liam. It is a real treat because Sydney loves Lyla and, despite being second choice, gets along great with Liam. This leaves the kids engaged all weekend and the three adults having good conversation and fun times.
I say weekend but this year Sydney and I imposed ourselves a bit more, since I requested and we were given a six-day vacation by the court. Thank you, Chad and Parissa, for being such amazing and accommodating hosts.
Photos from the trip (and one interesting video of Sydney uncharacteristically freaking out about seeing the water under a bridge at the Minnesota Zoo):
I added this one just because the smile was so nice!
Liam, Lyla, and Sydney enrapt as Chad talks to them during dinner.
The kids outside the library.
Posing as superheroes – which is funny because Sydney hardly knows any superheroes.
I have no complaints. I have been working hard to get equal parenting time and the time I get to spend with Sydney now I will cherish forever. Primarily, I hope I can help Sydney have a wonderful, happy life. However, being a single dad is difficult, being a single working dad is even more difficult, and being a single working dad during the summer compounds things further.
The reality is, at least in Boulder, most fathers work while lots of moms either don’t work or work part time. Recently I was at the library with Sydney for story time and counted 23 adults in the room – 22 women plus me. I have no male friends who stay at home and it always seems a bit forward for me to plan play dates with a mom. So Sydney and I end up making lots of plans with her friends on the weekends and doing our own things during the weekdays.
Equally true is that being a dad during the summer conflicts with my job. I current have Sydney three days per week. Given that she sleeps about 11 hours per night, I have her for 13 waking hours per day or 39 hours per week. Add that to the 40 hours I work for my company and I have two full-time jobs during the summer. Again, I am not complaining but it requires long hours and good planning to keep up.
On a typical workday in Boulder, we might play at home, practice a few of our summer projects, or go outside to a park or the library. On just one recent day, we visited the library for story time, played in Boulder Creek, ate a picnic on the grass, visited Pearl Street for ice cream, and built castles with other kids in the local park. A fun day!
Story Time at the library with 22 moms and nannies
Sydney and I recently shared three big new experiences.
On June 5, after spending the night at my aunt Sally and uncle Dick’s house in Evergreen, my cousin Noi, Sydney, and I went up 14,265 foot Mt. Evans. Granted, the highest paved road in the country took us up to 14,130 feet but the experience of alpine lakes, above-the-treeline scenery, and that final quarter mile, 135-foot elevation gain hike was excellent.
On June 8, Sydney’s good friend Evie Fleetwood stayed the night at our house with her father (and my good friend) Michael. This was Sydney’s first overnight guest that we have hosted and we were thanking them for hosting us overnight last summer. Evie and Sydney have an incredible time playing together and tears were shed upon departure the next morning.
Finally, on June 12th we visited my guide and friend Desiree’, who lives on a small farm in southeastern Denver. There are a number of farms in our area that are open to visitors but when you know the owner, things are different. Sydney was able to ride a horse bareback, clean the horse’s hooves, feed two cows by hand, and even chase down and catch a chicken! (The video below shows Sydney on the hunt but I missed the actual catch.)
Sydney is in the midst of what will likely be her longest summer during her Pre-K through 12 career, thanks to the New York move. Schools in Colorado got out for the summer on May 25th, starting again as early as August 17. In New York, public schools get out on June 22 and start school again on September 5. So Sydney got out early and starts late, giving her a total of 102 days of vacation.
We also don’t have her registered for any weeklong camps or even classes. So I currently have her three days per week, 24 hours per day, with lots of time to spend together.
I have three main strategies for filling the calendar this summer:
Vacations: Luckily, I was approved to take Sydney on three different vacations totaling 20 days. Devon will take the same number of days over two trips. So we have 40 days planned for vacations, which is great. I’ll write about those as they happen.
Summer Skills Program: Sydney and I sat down to come up with six activities she wanted to improve on this summer. We created a chart and Sydney signs her initials each time she practices one of these six skills.
These activities include:
Dancing: Sydney took both Hip Hop and Ballet multiple time but the classes were mostly “free form”, allowing the kids to do pretty much what they wanted in emulating the instructor’s moves. Sydney and I are practicing the basics of what I would call ballroom dancing, which is what I learned when living in Poland. The “basics” at this point almost entirely involves keeping a beat in time to either a metronome or music. If you can’t keep the beat you can’t dance!
Reading: We are primarily reading simple books, often with me reading the book first and Sydney then reading it after me, but we are also using flashcards that Sydney’s Aunt Sharon and Uncle Dave gave her.
Inline Skating: I see kids trying to inline skate who have clearly never been taught to balance on their skates and I plan to make sure Sydney learns the right way. Luckily, I was a skating instructor for about 10 years as part of my tours. Hopefully, she will enjoy it as it would be a great activity for the two of us.
Soccer: Sydney is actually pretty good at soccer but states frequently she does not want to take it up as a sport. I am not sure where she gets this antipathy from.
Swimming: This is Sydney’s favorite activity on the list. I have been moving away from private lessons (expensive at $40 per half hour) and towards teaching her myself, which allows us to spend 90 or more minutes at the pool, most of the time spent playing but with 30 minutes spent practicing. Sydney is getting a pretty good crawl stroke and now needs to learn how to tread water, float on her back, and breathe while swimming.
Writing: Sydney can write her letters but her penmanship is terrible since she has never practiced it. Just giving her a lined notepad and asking her to stay within the lines helped immensely.
Of course, much of the time we spent doing the regular: visiting the library, reading books, creating “plays” at home, going to the park, etc. It is a fun but consuming summer!
Update from September 4, 2018: The summer was longer even than expected, since Sydney is now going to a private school on Long Island that doesn’t start until September 11th. Plus, the “skills program” above took a major hit when we moved out of our townhouse on July 13. After that and especially while living in a hotel in New York, it was much tougher to find the time and space to do the above.