For the last week, Arlo has been saying to me on a daily basis, “Go Gramma’s house, see Bottom Bottom” (that’s his name for Oscar the Dog). I made the mistake of mentioning that we might be staying at grandma’s house soon, not realising that he would not forget.
He frequently surprises me by bringing up names of people that we haven’t seen in over a month. I can’t remember exactly when it was that we last gave Uncle Chris a lift, but when Arlo points out the seats in the car we always have “Mama’s seat, Dada’s seat, Ar-oh’s carseat, and Uncle’s Chris’s seat”.
Sam has been on quite a few work trips since Arlo was born, but most of them were in the first year of his life and didn’t have much of an effect on Arlo. He won’t have remembered the 10 day business trip Sam took when he was 6 weeks old, but what will he make of a week and a half without dada now? Now that he has the memory of an elephant and is very much aware of each family member and his dynamic with them. Now that the first thing he says to me on a weekday morning when he can’t find Sam is, “Dada gone to work”.
Will we get hourly mentions of dada? Will he breeze through the next few weeks and simply accept the noticeable absence? Should I talk to him about Sam and keep explaining that dada is away with work, or would it be better to not emphasise it too much? We usually talk about dada every day, specifically what Arlo can tell dada about his day when dada gets back from work. Arlo loves this set-up and is always bursting with news as soon as Sam walks through the door. (After writing this, Sam told Arlo a bit more about his upcoming trip, so now we’re getting, “Dada go on plane to Africa next week, mama and Arlo stay at home” every five minutes).
I’ve been dwelling on Sam going away for a while now. I’ve been worried about what we will eat, what I will do if Arlo gets ill and I can’t get him to sleep, meeting my deadlines, stepping up my toddler entertainment skills to match those of Sam’s, and what the hell I will do with myself without Sam around. I have been worried about me, it’s only in the last few days that I’ve even stopped to think about the ways in which his absence will affect Arlo too.
We will be fine, obviously. As usual with these things I find the nervous anticipation of the event is much worse than the actual event itself, during which time I just roll with it and make up the plan of action as I go along. Failing that, at least the cupboards are fully stocked with spaghetti hoops.