For all the fond memories we have of Munchkin’s earliest days, there are a lot of little details that we happily consigned to the time cracks of history, and which we are now relearning with Junebug.
When Munchkin drums on S’s belly and enjoins his baby sister to come out, he is no doubt genuine – the little man does not like being kept waiting for anything that’s been promised to him. Of course, he is also wholly ignorant of the changes her arrival will wreak on his privileged only child status. For our part, we are slightly nervous not just about how he will react to the change but also about the regression we’ve been warned to expect in his development.
It’s T-minus 5 days, if the due date prognostication is to be believed, and while S is more than ready for this pregnancy to be over, the little lady seems content to remain comfortably ensconced in the womb for the time being. D’s parents, eager for their granddaughter’s arrival, call after every prenatal doctor’s appointment to request “an update on the due date.” Munchkin has adopted a more direct approach, pressing on S’s belly while chanting, “Come out, baby sister!”
One of the keys to parental happiness is either cultivating shared hobbies with one’s children, convincing (or cajoling) them to embrace one’s own favorite pastimes, or finding complementary activities that allow the simultaneous indulgence of both adult and child interests. In Maine for the summer with Munchkin, D struck gold on the latter front.
From the outset, we have sought to instill a love of literature in our little man while limiting Munchkin’s screen time. Given how much time we spend in front of our laptops, the latter was bound to be a bit of a quixotic quest. At three, Munchkin is by no means immune to the draw of the bright screen; the educational series of Daniel Tiger videos is his current obsession, and he wheedles his way to watching a video most days. Even so, we spend considerably more time reading to him each day than he spends watching videos, and that is one victory of which we are proud.
Right before S packed her bags for the cross-Atlantic journey with Munchkin, we went out for a rare night of rock-n-roll in Kigali. Several of our Embassy friends and colleagues play in a cover band, and the set list featured a number of 90s rock classics. It was a bittersweet show – a pointed reminder of the one thing D misses above all else while serving abroad: live music.
“Here’s a kiss and a hug for you / I love you mommy for all you do / Happy Mother’s Day!” Munchkin sang to D, ignoring S’s softly whispered exhortations to substitute “papa” into the Mother’s Day song he had learned at school. “Happy Mother’s Day, papa, and babushka, and dedushka, and mommy!” he concluded. At least the sentiment was right, and he did tenderly refer to D as “my little fuzzy papa” a little while later.
Rushing home from work last Thursday – his last day in the office – D was still too wired, too caught up in wrapping up last-minute projects, to actually relax. The red-eye flight from Kigali to Amsterdam, with its obligatory refueling stop in Entebbe, did little to help. It was only when D reached his friend’s office in Paris around midday on Friday, dropped his bags, and settled into a cute Parisian bistro for a luxuriously slow-paced lunch with two former college classmates that he felt the stress of the previous months begin to ebb away.
Eight months pregnant and chasing after a three-year-old daredevil, S was glad for all the help she could get before D came back stateside. Fortunately, help was aplenty. S’s childhood friend came to spend a long weekend in Portland with her six-year-old son, and S’s parents came down from Bangor the following weekend. And midweek, when S was on her own with Munchkin, she took advantage of the outdoor meet-up groups that proliferate in Maine during the summer months.