We published a post yesterday by Tamar Fox about test driving parenthood by spending the weekend with her boyfriend’s 3-year-old daughter. Here’s the boyfriend’s take on the same experience.
I travel to New York every week for love. Basically, I come back to Philadelphia to parent Ronia in the city where her school is located and where her mother lives. My life is geographically determined, I am basically a different person in New York than I am in Philly though my two lives aren’t really that different. They are defined by relationships with powerful ladies who are younger than me.
Still, until now, they have not come together very often. My lady doesn’t get to Philly all that often, and Ronia has only made it to NYC once, when my parents took us both up.
But I have one sister living there and she’s been agitating for some auntie time. The pitch was that Ronia could stay with her, and we would not have to put Ronia on the Lady’s couch and draft her housemates into being involuntary aunties, when the real one was quite voluntary.
I try to be as hands off as possible in pushing Tamar to take on Ronia responsibilities. I feel like choosing to date someone who has a child is very different from choosing to have one yourself. Also, Tamar’s friends are weirdly pressuring in this regard, with several of them asking her if she’s spent time with Ronia.
So it was with some trepidation that I suggested the weekend, but Tamar, bless her child-loving heart, agreed. And though I am usually hesitant to set the agenda, Tamar and Auntie were both amenable.
Because my bus was horrendously late, I dropped Ronia somewhat abruptly with her aunt and posse of ladies, all ready to fuss over the niece, and headed uptown. Though I pride myself on my Shabbat co-hosting, I arrived at that magic moment when everything is done. A very grownup Shabbat dinner followed, while Ronia partied downtown.
In the morning, I headed to shul. I had asked Maya to bring Ronia to synagogue, which is big because Maya does not usually attend. To her credit, she agreed. I watched the door anxiously, sneaking off to the bathroom to field texts of their progress. The progress was minimal, Ronia had reverted to her rockstar ways, sleeping past 11 am. I asked Maya to bring her anyway.
But Ronia insisted on walking so they were late and met us afterwards in Central Park for a picnic. Tamar produced a predictably massive amount of food, and we ate. Despite Ronia’s earlier fears, she had confessed to me that she thought Tamar might be a monster, she quickly glommed onto Tamar’s story-reading abilities, and was on her before Tamar could finish her meal. Then we headed to the playground.
Tamar and I watched Ronia ascend a massive slide, far taller than any she encounters in this post-litigous era of midget amusements. We watched as she reached the top, looked down, and ground to a halt, a crush of New York children piling up behind her.
Tamar looked at me..should we intervene? The kids were surprisingly patient, Maya and her friend were closer. I demurred, but Tamar had seen enough. There was a scared child in some physical peril. I waved to Ronia in what I hoped was a cheery manner. We headed closer, and Ronia jumped into my arms. In a move that could have been a parenting action movie, I handed her to Tamar and leapt to safety.
Tamar’s instincts were correct, and my embarrassment at not intervening correctly was tempered by the thrill of having an adult to team with, to not be forced to always rely on my own resources. Being on my own has definitely made me a better father, has kept me from deferring to anyone. But just once it was nice to do so.
To read more about Jesse’s experiences as a single dad, go here.