Friday, July 31, 2009

Missing my River

I’m back on the road again, for just over two weeks. This week it’s Mark and I together on a very extended date. We are taking one last trip together before I begin a new job that offers limited vacation. We originally planned to take River with us. As long as he’s under two, it’s not much of an expense. But his eleven a.m. to two or three p.m. naps would really cut into our sightseeing. When my parents offered to watch him, I thought the time with his grandparents would be good for both of them. Plus, I’m not one to turn down free babysitting. So Mark and I went on our own.

Just prior to the trip, I traveled with River for a few days on my own, taking him to see various relatives. That was pretty exhausting. A toddler on a plane is more difficult than a baby on a plane, even on short flights. And on the days I was both caring for him and helping out my 86-year-old grandmother, I was doing double duty.

So when it came time to leave, I was ready for a break. I couldn’t wait to go to the airport and just read a book or write, without having to look after anyone. Nevertheless, I began to choke up as it came time to say goodbye. I decided not to take him to the airport with me, as that would have made it more difficult. I put him down for his nap just before I left for the airport, told him I loved him and that I would be back for him.

I found it especially hard at this age for two reasons. One, he’s very attached to me now, more so than to anyone else. Two, he’s at the age where he understands a lot of what is going on around him. I think he will notice my absence in a way he might not have before. He might worry about where I went or when I’ll be back. But he doesn’t understand enough for me to be able to explain to him why I’m leaving and when I’ll be back. All I can do is to hope for the best and so far, initial reports from the parents are that he is doing well.

I do miss him, especially when I see the Icelandic babies in their elaborate baby carriages, or hold up a toddler-sized Icelandic woven sweater. But we’ve also been busy exploring and I’ve enjoyed our adventures. I know that it wouldn’t have been possible to do even a fraction of what we’re doing if River was here. So I’m grateful to my parents, trying to enjoy my time here, and am looking forward to seeing River at the end of it. So far, I find it easier to be with Mark, rather than alone and away from everyone in my family.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A great movie for little ones that was made for big ones

Last night I began watching a movie with my husband. It’s called Heima and is basically a series of concerts given by the instrumental band Sigur Ross in various rural areas of Iceland. We got it because we are planning to go to Iceland and wanted a preview of the nature. Once I started watching, it resonated with my love of remote, natural places. It brought back memories of Kyrgyzstan and Siberia, but with a strange European feel. I wanted River to experience it. I wanted him to feel the volcanic sand beneath his feet, to look out across vast horizons of empty land, sky and rushing waters.

We initially planned to bring him, since his airfare would be virtually free. The fact that Icelanders seem to be very family friendly is another bonus. But his daily nap from 11-2 or 3 would put a big crimp in our ability to explore. The extended daylight hours might make it hard to sleep. When my parents offered to babysit for two weeks, we weren’t going to turn down an offer like that. So we decided we wouldn’t take him along.

Nevertheless, I wanted him to see this movie. I paused it halfway through and waited to watch the rest with River. There is very little dialogue. The music and the panoramic shots are interrupted only by brief commentary from band members about what it was like to make such a tour.

This morning I propped him on his special pillow he sits on while watching videos and turned on the movie. He sat riveted for quite a while, pointing at the glaciers, the birds, the wild horses, the sheep, the beautiful and thoughtful faces of families listening to the hauntingly beautiful music played in an epic landscape. Watching little Icelandic girls fly red kites, he said nina (girl in Spanish) for the first time.

I would consider buying a copy of this movie to have on hand for him to watch. If you think your child would like nature, music and lots of close-ups of people’s faces, this may be an unusual film worth considering.