So I’ve been back at work from my second mat leave for a little over a month now.The transition back was pretty smooth this time. My husband is staying home with our two daughters for the last two months of the parental leave and then taking two months in flex leave to get us to September when our eldest will be starting full-day kindergarten (or, more specifically, maternelle, parce qu’on va à une école francaise).
So I returned to work secure in the knowledge that things were being taken care of on the home front in the near future. The transition was of course different for my three-year old this time as she understood I was leaving. She understood why, and she loves having dad home, but I know she misses me. And I’m also aware that she listens to EVERY. WORD. I. SAY.
As an example, I have maintained a weekly tradition from when I was on mat leave where every Monday we go to the movie rental store …
We’ll just take a pause here so it can sink in that we still have a local movie rental store. I have visions of my kids trying to explain this weekly tradition of HAVING TO LEAVE THE HOUSE TO RENT MOVIES to their high school friends. I suspect it will be similar to my trying to explain the rotary dial phone to my children.
…and rent two movies from the kiddy section in the back for one week for $4.50…
We’ll again just pause here and marvel at the fact that while Blockbuster and Rogers couldn’t make a continued go of it in the movie rental business within the changing realities of the industry, the local mom and pop rental shore in my ‘hood is still going strong.
We’ve gotten some classics. The Little Mermaid. The Little Mermaid 2. The Little Mermaid: New Beginnings. Barbie: in A Mermaid Tale. And my personal favourite, Barbie: The Princess and the Popstar which asks the eternally practical question that I think every 3-year-old girl should have a ready answer for: If you had to choose, would you rather be … a princess or a popstar? [As an aside, I watched this one with my daughter and am almost ashamed to admit that I found it strangely moving and uplifting. You really CAN achieve your goals and be happy with who you are – within the confines of being a princess or a popstar – if you just BELIEVE. The music was also catchy. I am STILL getting requests for the main song from my daughter. We play it on the IPhone and groove.]
Anyway, last week I managed to suggest that we rent something I would enjoy watching: Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. She wasn’t totally stoked or anything, but I think it sunk in that I was, so she sort of sighed, rolled her eyes and in a fine, if it matters that much to you, kind of way, she agreed that it could be one of the weekly choices.
I asked if we could watch it together. I pictured a lovely moment. Us curled on the couch under blankets, surrounded by her favourite stuffed animals; eating popcorn and enjoying Alice’s crazy adventures. The vision was even a wee bit sepia toned in my mind.
She agreed. Honestly, she was much more excited to watch Barbie: Fairytopia! which was the other weekly selection.
I have to admit my gross disappointment when I got home from work the next day, all ready for my envisioned girls night in, to find that she’d already watched it.
Ah well – these are the trade-offs, right?
She then watched it another 3-4 times throughout the week. Also without me.
So Saturday rolls around and we come back from swimming lessons. We’re sitting in the car in our driveway discussing what we will do for the next bit. I suggest that we watch it together after lunch and before nap.
DD1: Mommy, we don’t have TIME to watch Alice.
DD1: I have to go to work.
Me: [lump in stomach; making a mental note to forever more avoid the phrase “we don’t have time when speaking to my daughter] Oh, where do you work?
DD1: Over there [Pointing randomly down the street in the direction I drive off each morning].
Me: [A small part inside dies quietly] I see. Why do you have to go to work?
DD1: To make money to buy candy.
Me: [Impressed that we’ve grasped the basic concept of needing to work to buy “things”] Oh, but it’s Saturday. We don’t work on Saturday.
DD1: Oh! I forgot! OK, we can watch Alice if you want.
Suffice to say we watched the movie. It was fun. But it’ll take a bit of time to get the image of my daughter in her car seat explaining that she doesn’t have time to do what I want to do because she has to go to work out of my head…