You got your first passport stamp in Iceland. So cool!
I had a work conference in Stockholm and we made a family trip out of it, also visiting Ghent and Amsterdam over two weeks. Although your Mom and I are adventurous, we were still nervous about the 12 hours of plane time each way with you and Eliza. It’s tough sitting on a plane that long for us big kids, too. Everyone gets a little sweaty and disheveled on international flights and we gave you a few helmet breaks to keep your head cool. You fought sleep a couple times but otherwise did great!
You had a hard time adjusting to the new time zone -- nine hours ahead -- and liked to wake up in the middle of the night. To attempt to get you back to sleep, your Mom would strap you in a baby carrier and walk all over the hotel, stopping to make friends with the night-shift staff and making her way to the 7-Eleven around the corner to chit-chat with the cashier and buy croissants for the morning. She made these laps for three consecutive nights before you got on schedule.
You’ve developed the strange need to hold onto your Mom’s hair to fall asleep, which makes her presence mandatory. Likewise, your sister has been demanding with back rubs to fall asleep, which can also only be administered by your Mom. She’s in high demand. You've got to let me contribute to the nighttime routine or you'll make me look bad, OK? You have been getting into books quite a bit more, so I’ve been able to help wind you down that way. Your favorite on the trip was “McDuff Comes Home,” a book about a Westie dog running off from home to chase a rabbit. You love giggling at the sight of the little white dog on each page.
Here's a biggie: You started crawling in Stockholm! You crawled all over our room at Hotel Rival. Your crawl style is a little more like a scoot because you tuck one leg in and use the other to push off like using a skateboard. You army-crawl fine so we know both legs are working, but you choose to do this one-leg crawl/scoot to keep yourself upright. Of course, you improved on this method with each day, and by the time we were in Amsterdam we couldn’t take our eyes off you as you darted toward any dangling cord, plant, or power outlet.
Aside from those daring attempts at hurting yourself, we found the trip was manageable because northern European countries are so family-friendly. That may be why they’re constantly rated as the happiest places to live. I was shocked by how many young families we saw out and about. It wasn’t just the great weather. It’s because these countries, Sweden in particular, have amazing, federally-mandated parental leaves. In Sweden, parents are entitled to about 16 months of leave, which can be split between both parents, and they get paid 80 percent of their income for 13 months. That’d be like me not working for the last 10 months and still having a few to go. Compare that to the two weeks I had off for parental leave. Major difference.
A highlight of the trip, among many, was how you started to really want to cuddle with me. You like to bury your head (or helmet) in my neck for a few seconds in a loving way. You haven’t been the cuddliest guy, which is OK, but it’s been a nice welcome as there is nothing better than a baby snuggle. I wonder if it’s because I only see you in windows of time during the normal weekdays. Alternatively, we had so much continuous time on the trip perhaps you became more comfortable. Maybe if we were living in Sweden that would have happened a lot earlier.
I am sorry we didn’t get to spend all the early time of your life together like those Northern European families, but we don’t have it half-bad either. We have better Asian food in Tacoma.
Wait, no, we ate great Thai foot at one restaurant. Well, shit.
Here’s to more passport stamps.