b Papa Dog's Blog: Daddy at Home Week: Day 3

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Thursday, September 01, 2005

Daddy at Home Week: Day 3

There was a file I wanted to get off my computer at work, so I conceived of a big expedition to the City of San Francisco for Baby Dog and moi. Given the duration of what I had in mind, it was going to be a challenge negotiating snack and nap times, but I figured that if I left right after morning snack and fed her lunch on the go, she’d fall asleep on the way back and the timing would be more or less according to schedule. Naturally, that all went out the window pretty much from the beginning.

I managed to leave on time – early, even, because I did morning snack time somewhat ahead of schedule – but Baby Dog threw a sabot in the works by falling asleep in the BART train,* two and a half hours before scheduled nap time. At least that meant I could read my book on the way out, an unexpected bonus. She woke up half a block from my office, and as I toured around introducing her to my orkers, she was groggy and grumpy instead of her usual engaging outgoing self. Nobody took it amiss, though, probably because I’m always sullen and incommunicative at the office myself; they probably thought she just takes after me.

After a quick nappy change in the men’s room at the Hyatt (handicapped stall for use of guests and attendees only, but I figured I was attending the hotel at that moment so I qualified), we had a little picnic in Justin Herman Plaza just beyond the Vaillancourt Fountain. The whole meal-on-the-go thing proved difficult. I managed to get a whole cup of yogurt and some milk into her, but she dismissed the peanut butter sandwich bits with a curt “No.” We sat under the shade of a tree at the top of a grassy slope and watched some dudes having a soccer game in the field below. Baby Dog pointed and yelled “BALL!” repeatedly. She also bellowed “BIRD! TWEET!” a few times, which is new.

I’ve done the walk up the Embarcadero to Pier 39 numerous times over the years, and I feared doing it with the stroller would be an even longer and more excruciating stroll than usual, but the reverse was true; this was hands down the fastest time I’ve ever made. Since I wasn’t escorting an out-0f-town tourist,** I was able to keep up a brisk pace the whole time. It became even more brisk when a horse-drawn cart pulled out of one of the piers and began clopping up the Embarcadero. I pointed it out to Baby Dog. She was uncertain at first, but gradually became convinced this was indeed a horsey, and started pointing and saying “Neigh! Neigh!” Unfortunately, the horsey was moving a lot faster than Daddy was, and presently it had gained half a block on us, threatening to take itself out of Baby Dog’s field of vision. Before the appearance of the horse, I had been worrying that the stroller ride might put her back to sleep again; the horse was doing an excellent job keeping her awake, so I didn’t want it to get away. There was a long stretch of wide open sidewalk, so I thought “What the hell,” and ran after the horse cart, probably moving Baby Dog’s stroller as fast as it’s ever gone. We caught up with the horse and managed to keep pace with it all the way to Pier 39. Throughout, Baby Dog let me know she was still awake by saying “Neigh!” at the horse every few seconds. As we turned in to Pier 39, I told her to say “Bye Bye, horsey,” which she did – the “Bye Bye” part, anyway, “Horsey” being a word she has yet to add to her spoken vocabulary.

I had been telling Baby Dog all morning that we were going to see the sea lions, but I think she was picturing lion lions, which in her experience means a small green stuffed animal. I took her out of the stroller and up to the railing where she could get a good view (no, Mama Dog, I did not michaeljackson her over the edge). She was enchanted by the sound they made, and I barked along into her ear. She grinned and pointed. It was a long way to go for about five minutes worth of entertainment. The Marine Mammal Center had a booth nearby selling, among other things, stuffed sea lions that bark when you squeeze them. I got Baby Dog one for a memento, and she took to it immediately, holding it in her stroller as Daddy wandered around trying to figure out how to get up to the second level of the Pier 39 complex with a stroller.

Up on the second level is the Eagle Café. I needed lunch too. I’d gotten it in my head that pancakes were the thing, and the Eagle’s Nest serves breakfast until three in the afternoon. I actually ended up with French toast, but six of one, half a dozen of the other.*** They had no baby seats – only booster chairs – so I left Baby Dog in the stroller and gave her some more milk. She took some Cheerios and a bit of a Nutrigrain bar, but mostly she played with her sea lion, read her books, and watched Daddy enjoy his French toast, bacon, and tea. Also, since she had by then recovered from her office-bound grumpiness, she went about charming the serving staff. I saw her grinning widely at one point, and turned around to see the cook, a rough-hewn kinda guy, standing behind the counter waggling his fingers and making happy faces at her.

After the compulsory side trip to The Fudge House to get Mama Dog a caramel apple in commemoration of our visit to that spot on our wedding day.

Usually the walk back downtown seems faster than the walk out, but with no horse to chase, it went a bit slower. As we neared the grass behind Justin Herman Plaza, I heard rapid footsteps behind me. Thinking it was a jogger, I moved to the side, but the guy came running right up to me. He handed me a copy of Where Is Baby’s Belly Button? I was getting set to think “Hey, we have one just like that! What a strange thing for a childless adult to be carrying as he jogs along the Embarcadero,” when he said, “You dropped your book! Don’t wanna lose that one.” “No, she’d never forgive me,” I said, and thanked him. I still don’t know how Baby Dog managed to toss that one out of the stroller without me seeing it. I guess I was lost in contemplation.

I had intended to do another nappy check at the Hyatt, but by the time we got there, she was asleep, as per my original plan. She snoozed all the way through the BART ride back, and only started to stir about a block or two away from our house. When I stopped at our front door, she was awake enough to look up and say “Home,” the way she does.
*Travel advisory: the elevator at Rockridge station is slow and claustrophobic and lets out in a spot of blank concrete that must be scary at night, but is downright nice compared to the urine-soaked platform-level elevator at Embarcadero station.
**Well, I guess technically I was, since Baby Dog is an Oaklander, but she wasn’t much interested in seeing the bridge views.
***Which, if you think about it, is really a pretty meaningless phrase. It’s meant to imply that two given options are so similar that they may as well be identical; but if you really think that six of one and half a dozen of the other means “the same thing,” I’ll be happy to trade you six rat turds for half a dozen Krugerands.


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