Every once in a while, my wife will leave town or have a reason to be away from the house during a time when my children require true parenting. Okay, maybe that diminishes some of my real contributions, but most of the time, my input consists of:
“How in the (muffled grunting as I struggle to keep my lips from spewing forth the words that are trying desperately to claw their way to freedom) does your room get so filthy so fast? I want this cleaned up immediately. I am SERIOUS!!! No friends until this room is at least somewhat presentable.” Then to myself, “Didn’t I have this exact same conversation with them yesterday?”
“Why is this towel on the floor? Haven’t we been over this at least a billion times that the towels go on the rack that we have so kindly provided you. Or in the dirty clothes hamper.” This is generally met with a confused look as if I suddenly switched to old world Latin in the middle of my lecture. “The dirty clothes hamper? You know, the extra table we put in your room a couple of months back? It’s that thing all of your dirty clothes are stacked around. Yeah, that. Your towel could go in there. Your towel could go just about anywhere, just not on the floor.”
“Why is your towel crumpled up on your bed? Yes, I know I said it could go just about anywhere but on the floor.” I sigh deeply as my face turns a deep shade of purple. “Put it back on the rack or in your dirty clothes hamper before I put you on the rack or in the dirty clothes hamper. THE TABLE, THE TABLE. Put inside the (muffled grunt again) table!!!”
“Who dumped their shoe full of sand all over the carpet I just vacuumed? Son, you’ve been playing on a playground full of sand for six years now. Just about everyday we’ve discussed not taking your shoes off on the carpet. Haven’t we? Well if you remember that we have, in fact, had that conversation daily for over 2000 days in a row, why did you take your shoes off on the carpet? You forgot. Well how about I help you remember…” This is when my wife then calls me into the other room before we have to remove one child’s picture from the wall and go about destroying evidence that we ever had four children as opposed to the three that would be left.
However, on those days when Shannon is away and it is left up to me to get them out the door and on their way to school, I am reminded of how grateful I am for my wife. How she patiently fills the role of short order cook, clairvoyant shoe finder and bathroom monitor is beyond me. This morning, my kids were actually really good and yet still I struggled to maintain my patience and not pick them up by the belt loops, toss them out the door and yell, “I can’t miss you if you won’t go away.”
This probably makes me sound like a terrible dad, and in the heat of a school day morning, maybe I am. But I will make up for it tonight. Dinner will be pizza and Family Home Evening will consist of whatever movie their mom doesn’t want them to watch. I’ll be a rock star. But it won’t change the fact that I will be so grateful when my wife gets home and resumes her 85% of our 50/50 split on the parenting responsibilities.
As an aside, I just finished reading Big In Japan, by Jennifer Griffith. She is a local author who has published four novels and someone I consider a friend. I have to say, if you are a reader, you really should get a copy of this book. It was fantastic. Now I understand that some might think I am too close to the situation to be trusted, but I assure you, if I hadn’t truly enjoyed the book, I would not have said anything and left it at that. But it is a truly enjoyable read and taught me a great deal about the Japanese culture. Big In Japan is available on barnesandnoble.com and amazon.com