Thursday, October 6, 2011

Intrepid Explorer

The first time we all went to Madison, WI was in late June, 2011. We went to an interview for a job being offered my wife. We'd spent a lot of time investigating the area, mainly using Google Earth. Being that we may end up here I'd taken Freja exploring. It was a warm, sunny day, so a beach seemed like the best idea.

I knew from looking at satellite images about where to find a small park. It had a tiny, little, mostly wild beach. Freja immediately began to comb the waterline, looking for treasure. I love how she can immerse herself in the simple act of exploring everyday objects. A side effect from us always being alone, aside from becoming socially inexperienced, is how imaginative she's becoming. Things I think most adults take for granted are wondrous objects of expression.

I'd expected her to get soaked, so I'd packed her swimsuit. She played for over an hour by herself. We saw ducks, and chased butterflies. I watched her litteraly chase a yellow one for over ten minutes, eventually picking up with her fingers. She even found treasure in some loose change.

Eventually some small children did come, but they didn't know how to deal with this overly friendly, "play with me, kid." She didn't know how to play with them, though she kept trying in own unique way. With time, she'll sort it out though. She was only 3 years old...

Viking Tomboy

So my daughter is acting out at preschool, which doesn't surprise me. New town, new apartment, mommy's back to work and daddy is GONE! Then we throw her into a crowded building full of people and kids she doesn't know. Naturally, she's going to go at in her own, unique way.

The thing about my daughter is, instead of mommy being the primary parent, I am. When Teri and I agreed to get married we came up with a plan. I'll detail that conversation later. For now let's just say part of our plan was for me to quit the museum and become a stay at home dad.

Skip forward 14 months and Freja is born, soon there after Teri went back to work and I was the one who took over full care. From the beginning, even before she was born, I'd begun my role. I carried her everywhere I went, strapped to my chest. While I always took precautions to make sure she was safe, we began to adventure.

At first, when she was so small she slept facing my chest, we just went for walks around the neighborhood. But as she grew we began to branch out. With a year we'd go for hikes along trails in all seasons. I could sense her need to explore and adventure, and it echoed my own. I was going to open the world for my daughter.

Most of those photos were taken by Teri.

While we enjoyed a lot of adventures as we explored, we were almost always alone unless mommy was with us. I'd tried to join play groups, all of which are run by women around Greensburg, PA. I was told I couldn't join because I'm a man. So she didn't have a lot of chances to actually play with other kids. It was usually just us, with me being the one she was with the most. We've had some great times too!

Like the frogs we just raised from eggs to adults. We went out and collected them together, then raised them in her room using two aquariums. It was an interesting learning experience for us both.

Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica)Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica)

So instead of dolls, we played in nature, but I did try to teach her about cooking. We ran around playgrounds all the time, and went for hikes. Boating and swimming, exploring and creating art, the days flew by.

Anyway, so now she's acting out at school. I'm told she's only comfortable interacting in small groups. That she objectifies people and has no boundaries. When my wife was there she acted out, doing crazy stunts like lying down in puddles and showing off. She just needs time and patience, and for me to get back in her life full time. This staying behind to finish the house renovations was a great idea on paper, but the reality stinks.

I know she just needs time to learn how to interact with other people. I also know how she pushes boundaries to see how far she can go. If I'm being told she doesn't have any, then I worry perhaps no one is imposing any. Until I actually get out there, I won't know for sure what is going on. I'll be home soon. It must all be so confusing to her. She's not even four years old. It's tough on a little girl when you're raised by a man in his 40's. We don't play with dolls...