A day like I haven’t had in a while.
VIENNA, Austria- “Petra, we’re not just here to play. We don’t have enough money to just keep going around paying to do expensive kids stuff the whole time. We will do some fun things for you but we will also just walk around, talk to people, learn a little about the place and culture, and hang out sometimes too.”
We went to play place — the largest indoor playground in Austria or something. We arrived early so we walked over to the Tesla factory next door. I taught Petra what a Tesla car is. She said that she was going to draw a picture of one later.
We went to the worker’s cafe for coffee. I got one for me and one for Petra. Rivka freaked out. She wanted one too but she’s too little to drink coffee. Rivka hates being too little. It really pisses her off. So I took her outside and sent her to go stand under a tree until she stopped screaming.
We went back to the play place and played. We ran around like morons.
“What do the kids in your books go on adventures to find?” I asked Petra.
We decided that a “magical golden Cletus that’s viable” would to the trick.
Background: When Rivka was a fetus we would call her Cletus the Fetus. Petra misunderstood and thought that the uterus bound slimy thing was called a Cletus. When Rivka became a viable fetus — one that could chill outside the womb (apparently) — this left a big impression on Petra. I can remember her talking to a couple of Filipino maids in the streets of Xiamen once: “My mommy has a Cletus in her belly,” she told them. “And it’s viable!”
Freaked them right out.
Back to Austria: we ran around pretending that a plastic ball was the magical golden Cletus that’s viable and the girls tried to keep it safe and I tried to kill it. I ultimately crushed it and punted it against the wall. Dead. I win.
We then started jumping on the trampolines. I lunged to avoid landing on Petra and fell off the side and hit my ribs incredibly hard agains the metal bar on the edge. I felt the impact on the inside. I waited for a moment for the pain to come, half amused that I may be seriously injured from something so stupid, half freighted because I was the only person in the country taking care of my girls. Shit, I have to get up. The pain comes, I get up. I guess that I cracked a rib or two.
Petra prods me to keep jumping. I keep jumping.
As I did I thought of something that never occurred to me before:
My kids often travel abroad alone with only one parent — usually their mother. What if something happened? What would become of them?
In a couple more years Petra will be able to handle about anything but until then the rationale behind traveling with both parent intact is more than reasonable — it shouldn’t be any other way.
Went decided to then go to the children’s museum. We sat outside for a while on a bench as Rivka napped in my arms. A fat Indian woman sat down next to me. I started talking to her. She said that she moved from Bombay to Houston something like 15 years ago. I found it odd that she seemed to be there in Austria alone, just sitting on a bench talking to me. Then her entourage of family showed up.
While the Chinese tend to travel in tours, Indians tend to travel in familial entourages.
Rivka woke up. We went into the museum. Rivka pooped once. I took her to the bathroom and cleaned her. Rivka pooped again. I took her to the bathroom and cleaned her.
We decided that it would be best to get out of there, least Rivka craps herself into oblivion.
Went to Naschmarkt. It’s a pedestrian street lined with sweet and street food vendors. We checked out all the stalls, got free samples, ate falafel. Told Petra and Rivka that they can choose one kind of candy to get. They ended up with two bulging bags.
Petra is disecting some early memories. Says she remembers me getting tattooed in Mexico when she was two. She described the scene completely accurately but couldn’t figure out if it was a real memory or not.
“What is memory?” she asked.
I told her that I forgot.
We went to bookstore bar. I drank a beer. Petra read Bedtime Stories for Rebel Girls. When we get back to Prague I will surprise her with it.
We returned to the AirBnB. The girls thanked me for the day. Before being a dad I could never imaging how good this feels.
But so much for not doing kids things all day …
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