My parents’ visit was fantastic.

My dad and I (mostly) built an amazing playset. We weren’t able to quite finish it, but I’m completely confident that what remains is something I can do solo. Building things, fixing things, troubleshooting household issues.. These are the ways I bond with my father. Instead of the whole situation becoming laden with stress and irritability, we keep each other amused and sane even during the biggest projects (and this swingset is, without a doubt, the biggest thing he and I have ever done together).

We bought some plans online and set to work. Were there problems? Of course. Home Depot didn’t have the right wood. The directions were extremely long and complicated. We sometimes didn’t have the right tools. More than once we cut some wood wrong, or drilled a hole in the wrong place or of the wrong size. We often disagreed. But. We were able to have Home Depot cut wood to the size we needed. We checked and rechecked the directions, each other, and the sanity of the situation as a whole, making sure we both understood the next step before we moved forward. We were able to correct our mistakes without much trouble, with spare wood and lots of room to rearrange holes. The disagreements were probably the best part. My father treats me like an equal in many ways. There are still some fatherly tendencies, as is appropriate, and I will by default defer to his opinion on something if I think it makes sense. But when it doesn’t make sense to me, he will listen to me. He will listen to why I disagree, and think about it, and then either agree, or present his own reasons for thinking what he does and why I haven’t changed his mind. I have no idea who “won” any of these disagreements, because every single time, we found equilibrium without any stress or hurt feelings. We worked as two people fully engaged as a team, and many times I bet our conversations would have been incomprehensible to anyone outside the situation…

Dad: “I think we should put this here.”

Me: “No, it needs to go.. see the… here holding out the directions. That thingie needs to–”

Dad, “Yes, but see right here there’s this thing that–”

Me: “Oh! Right.”

W commence putting “this” “here.”

I would murder to have coworkers that work with me as well as he does! We worked ourselves to exhaustion and I won’t lie, he put in more hours than I did, since I had to work for 3 of the days my parents were here. But we had a blast doing it. Drilling, measuring, marking, cutting. More measuring, more drilling. Lots and lots of ratcheting, with the occasional race. And so much talking about what we were doing and how to do it best. Even with such precise instructions, there were ambiguities to be worked out. Pieces to be identified. Tools to figure out (speed squares are simply amazing!) And even plenty of swearing. But never ever at each other. Not even at Home Depot, who took 3 hours to rent us a truck for 15 minutes, and failed to give us essential pieces to some of the tools we rented. And we ended up with something that will last a long, long time. Something I am truly proud to have done, and grateful to have done with my dad. Is it a weird way to bond? I dunno. But I love it. And it’s pretty awesome to have this big beautiful tangible reminder of the week I spent sweating and swearing with the most important man in my life (sorry, Papa T!).

Okay, so, enough about me. J also very much enjoyed the visit. “Dah-puh” and Nana are very exciting and wonderful, and “kiss, hug, shake” is now a part of her life. On one of the first days my parents were here, Nana came with me to drop J off at school. Afterwards, when I came out crying, she and I had a fairly brief but really helpful talk about how I’m contributing to drop-offs being so awful. I’d been working on this with my therapist anyway on being more emotionally removed from J’s anxiety, mostly by telling myself that I was leaving her somewhere safe. But it wasn’t until my mom explained that she and I were in a feedback loop that I started to understand. The big breakthrough came when I was telling her that I want to get out quickly, but I don’t want to do that until I’ve made the decision to go. So I hang around with J until it’s time to say goodbye, then I make my goodbye as quick as possible, but she loses it every time. And as I was saying that aloud to my mom, I realized: By taking her to daycare, I’ve already made the decision to leave. And so the next day, I didn’t stay. Not at all. We walked into the room, and I gave her a hug and a kiss and a see-you-this-afternoon-love-you! and I was out. She didn’t even have time to start sobbing, and what do you know, she ended up never crying at all. Ever since, drop-offs have been a breeze. This morning, it was just like a drop off from old times! I put her down, she wandered off to do her own thing, I joked with her teacher for a couple minutes, then a hug and a kiss and off I went. It was fantastic! I hope we can keep this up! I’m glad I gave myself two weeks to deal with this before I started trying something else with her teachers. I’m glad my mom was there to witness and advise. I’m glad it worked! And I’m especially glad that Nana and Grampa’s visit was so great. J saw lots of Nana and a fair amount of Grampa, and I saw lots of my dad and a fair amount of my mom.

Overall, a good, happy, successful week.

Oh, and yesterday when I asked if J had shown  Ms. CeCe her nails, she said no. I asked her why not and she said, “CeCe no here [to]day” !!!! This is the first time she’s formed a sentence to tell me about something I don’t know that she does. I mean, not like she has a wet diaper or she’s all done dinner or whatever, but passing me some information about her world that I otherwise wouldn’t and couldn’t have known. I was so excited! I LOVE having her talk! I know everyone says once they start they never shut up and it gets old, but I lovelovelove hearing her.