Red Hand & The Walking Man

About ten years ago, the pedestrian traffic lights changed all over the city. Apparently a red “DONT WALK [sic]” and a white “WALK” sign were too sophisticated, too intellectually challenging for the non-English speakers and illiterate among us. Countless tourists must have been walking into traffic for decades, I suppose. I mean, there could have been no other reason for replacing all those thousands of WALK/DONT WALK traffic lights with the ridiculous pictograms of the red hand and the white walking guy which now assault New Yorkers and visitors daily. Right?

It’s bad enough for anyone who remembers the pre-Giuliani/Bloomberg city, or anyone who has an ounce of respect for the intelligence of their fellow human beings. It’s REALLY bad when you’re trying to teach your two year old daughter when it’s OK to cross the street and when it isn’t. I feel like such a tool every time I have to say to her, “Now honey, stay on the sidewalk until the red hand thingy turns into that white walking man….” I honestly think that’s MORE complicated than WALK/DONT WALK, whether or not you know how to read, which Weevy still doesn’t.

I know that longtime NYC-ers are always bitching about how much the city has changed for the worse over the years, but I’ve gotta say, when they replaced those fucking traffic lights, an important part of the city died. And I think it’s going to affect my child in the same way that, I don’t know, watching Barney would. Not that something like THAT would ever happen on my watch, but you get the idea.

Playdates & Dread

Weevy has a best friend, B. They are CRAZY about each other. From the moment Weevy wakes up, practically, she’s asking me to text B’s nanny for a playdate (yes, she knows what a text is). When they’re not seeing each other, Weevy wants to look at pictures of the two of them on my iPhone. If they run into each other on the street or at Gymboree, they sob like something out of Romeo & Juliet when we tear them apart. If they have something scheduled, Weevy will ask me about twice a minute how long it is until B. will be over, or until we can go over to B’s place.

B. is a sweet girl. A typical two-year-old, mind you, who throws tantrums and wants to grab whatever toy Weevy is playing with and randomly squeals at the top of her lungs and so on. But in general, she’s a great playmate for Weevy — outgoing where Weevy is reserved, friendly where Weevy is shy, chatty where Weevy is quiet, and so on. A nice contrast. And as the weeks and months go by, they play more nicely together and fight less and, for the most part, have a wonderful time together.

B. is crazy about me. I honestly believe she’s more affectionate towards me than my own child is. Whenever we walk more than about four feet, indoors or out, she wants to hold my hand. For a while, whenever we went over to their place she immediately crapped her diaper, which I took as some kind of weird toddler compliment. B’s nanny is incredible — she’s so devoted, so attentive, so loving, so totally unlike the typical nannies who talk to each other or on their cellphones and let their charges run wild and unsupervised, that for ages I thought she was B’s mother. And B’s parents are very nice people as well. They all love Weevy and Weevy loves all of them.

And here’s the thing: I fucking dread these playdates like you would not believe.

I know, I know. It’s not them, it’s me. I’m the first to admit I’m a horrible person. But I can’t help it, when Weevy asks me to text B’s nanny, or when I get a text from the nanny asking if we’re free (because B. is just as obsessed with Weevy, after all), I get this sinking feeling and think, oh, SHIT.

It’s not that I don’t like B. and it’s not that I don’t like her family. It’s just that, I don’t LOVE them the way Weevy loves them. I don’t want to see them several times a week. I don’t want to make small talk with them while our kids try and grab the toys out of each other’s hands. I’m shy. Small talk with people I don’t totally love is incredibly difficult. And of course I don’t like kids. I mean, I like B. about as much as I could like a kid that’s not my own, but the fact that she’s two years old and not my daughter means that there’s a very limited amount of time I want to spend with her.

And while hanging out with B’s nanny and/or parents is not at all unpleasant, whenever we get together there are at least about 73 places I’d rather be.

When the missus was pregnant, I had this fantasy about martini-soaked, ballgame-watching playdates with other stay-at-home dads and their kids. Talking about B and V’s eating/sleeping/pooping habits while watching, if anything, Shrek or Nick Jr. just isn’t the same thing. And frankly, it isn’t even close.

I think that, first, I’m shy. I frequently use Weevy as my excuse to not talk to people any more than I have to. After all, I’m too busy to chat, I’ve got a toddler to take care of! And to be honest, I enjoy Weevy’s company more than that of just about anyone else, with a precious few exceptions. Which is a little scary, because until recently I never thought of myself as a diaper-changing, snot-wiping, Yo Gabba Gabba-watching, stroller-pushing kinda guy. But I guess that’s what I am… as long as it doesn’t include other kids.