Here's a rough timeline of events. Times that are bolded are exact; italicized means an estimate.
4.45 p.m. -- I pick NJ up at day care. She doesn't seem to care that I'm not The Wife, who'd dropped her off that morning on her way to Portland. NJ doesn't rush to the door to greet me, though, as she sometimes does -- she's laying on a mat with a boy; she's playing with his feet, which are draped across her tummy. One of the teachers tells me that this boy has no source of income, no gainful employment, so I call NJ away from him and we leave. At the car, NJ says "Mommy at home?" I tell her no, and she wails. It doesn't last long, and soon we're driving home laughing and chatting and occasionally high-fiving.
5.20 p.m. -- We pull up to the house. "Mommy inside?" NJ asks. I tell her no, and she wails. I hope the neighbors don't think I slapped her or something.
What, me cry?
Inside, Mommy's absence is forgotten and we have a lovely time. After a hearty round of "Go to Bed" -- her current fave game, in which she puts two of her dolls to sleep in her crib and then joins them for a succession of 10-second naps -- NJ devours much of the hamburger patty with Provolone I make her, along with some pickle slices and quinoa. And a cookie, of course! NJ's bath is uneventful, other than me failing to keep her from repeatedly drinking bath water.
8 p.m. -- Hilarity ensues when I ask NJ if she's ready to "go to bed" and she cheerily replies "Yes!" She was thinking of "Go to Bed" and her smile fades to sour disappointment when I pulls the shades in her room instead of turning on the music. It was like one of those "Three's Company" episodes (all of them?) when Mr. Roper overhears Jack and Janet talking and thinks they're talking about sex when they actually were talking about getting their car serviced. NJ and I compromise -- I let her play a little "Go to Bed" and actually get out of the crib again for a little while, and she ... huh! I seem to have forgotten her side of the compromise. Anyway, at about 8.20 p.m. I try again and NJ's happy to settle down to sleep. I celebrate with a glass of wine and a couple of "Cheers" reruns.
2.34 a.m. -- This is why I'm doing exact and estimated times, because 2.34 a.m. is burned in my mind as if someone wrote 2.34 a.m. across it with an acid-tipped pen. This is when NJ's cries on the baby monitor woke me up. It was 2.34 a.m.
2.50 a.m. -- She's still at it, so I head downstairs. A diaper is changed, a rocking chair is utilized, but every time I move to put NJ back to bed, she squawks. So ...
3.30 a.m. -- I put a row of pillows where The Wife usually sleeps in our bed, plant NJ in next to it, then lay down myself on the remaining mattress real estate. She's not going back to sleep yet, but she's calm and cool and collected. I can't see the clock because of the pillows, but after a lengthy stretch, the kid's out.
5 a.m. -- Dad's still awake! I crane my head and check the clock when a sleeping NJ kicks a tiny foot into my ribcage.
6.30 a.m. -- The alarm goes off. I dozed enough that I can't claim I got no rest at all. NJ's a little grouchy, but generally OK. Ninety later I'm driving back home after taking her to day care.
4.45 p.m. -- On the way to pick NJ up, I admire a cool, vintage motorcycle parked around the corner, even though I'm not a "motorcycle guy." (What I am, on this day, is a zombie after being up most of the night.) At day care, NJ's teacher tells me she didn't nap well because of coughing. The drive home is highlighted by a trip through the car wash, which amazes a wide-eyed NJ.
I'll let you know when I'm ready to leave for day care, Daddy.
5.45 p.m. -- NJ asks if Mommy's home and, when informed that Mommy was still away, crying commences. Once we're inside and NJ sees I'm not lying, crying becomes wailing, and "wailing" becomes the Theme of the Evening. Literally, the worst I've ever seen her. NJ wails through play time, dinner, bath (it was shampoo night, never a picnic under the cheeriest of circumstances), post-bath play time, and bedtime. A list of things that upset NJ greatly during this period includes (but isn't limited to):
- Daddy asking for one of her many Cheddar Bunnies (not taking one, mind you, but asking);
- Her sippy cup;
- Getting ready for her bath;
- Being placed in the bath;
- Being asked repeatedly to sit down in the bath;
- Getting her hair wet;
- Getting her hair shampooed;
- Getting her hair rinsed;
- Being asked to get out of the tub;
- Being presented with the wrong book during post-bath Reading Time;
- Learning that it absolutely, positively is time to go to bed.
1.30 a.m. -- The roar of what sounds like a vintage motorcycle engine wakes me. It starts up and immediately dies. Whoever's trying to start this engine spends the next 20 minutes revving, or trying to rev, it. There is time for tinkering, then more attempts, and finally the thing starts. Then there's a good five minutes of roaring engine noise, as if someone was hot-rodding a vintage motorcycle up and down the street. During this 45-minute ordeal, not one sound emits from the baby monitor.
6.30 a.m. -- I walk into NJ's room and she's already awake, and ... laughing? Laughing! "Mommy's gone," she says, smiling. A good night's sleep is key to acceptance of bad news, apparently -- a fresher perspective and all that. She smiles and giggles through breakfast and eventually marches into day care with a determined jaunt. I must have pinched myself five times during this period.
10 a.m. -- The Wife calls to say she'll be home early today. I perform a celebratory dance in the basement.
Now NJ's got a little fever, so if she was coming down with something that certainly explains her wild behavior. I'm just glad The Wife's back. This morning, I didn't even hear it when NJ woke up at 3 a.m.