“Sure” I told my wife. “Take a 10 day business trip to Japan! We’ll be fine here.” I really did feel confident when I said it. After all, we only have one kid. I figured he can’t be that hard not to misplace or lose in a poker game. I knew this would be a great opportunity to show my wife what a mature and responsible parent I am. More importantly, I knew it would be a great opportunity to eat copious amounts of Coco Puffs and raw cookie dough, away from the harsh light of “Old Judgy Eyes” and her…judgy eyes.
In typical fashion, my wife felt the need to anticipate my many errors before she left and ameliorate them in advance. In practical terms, this meant she made my shopping list, made me a daily meal menu, made me practice brushing my son’s wild hair, made our bed while I watched so I would know how to do it, made and froze soup, knowing I’d never stick to the aforementioned meal menu, made an emergency call list, and made me wish she would just leave already.
Eventually she did leave. My five-year-old son and I got home from the airport and stood in the living room, staring at one another. We were like two masterless Roombas, without a sentient human to push the “on” switch and give us some semblance of purpose. “You want a snack, buddy?” I asked. “YEAH!” he screamed, as he leapt sideways into the couch, somehow pushing his knee into his eye socket and landing on his head. “I WANT MAMI!” he screamed, as the floodgates opened. That did not take as long as I thought it would.
Side note: My wife, Kat, is in fact a “mami” and not a “mommy.” I understand that they sound identical when you read them to yourself. However, my wife is Peruvian. This means that if I incorrectly refer to her as “mommy” instead of “mami” she will stab me…and probably you as well, just for reading it wrong. Back to the story.
I panicked, as my son continued crying and asking for “mami.” “How about a popsicle?” I asked him desperately. “OK” he whimpered in response. I rushed to the freezer, grabbed the last grape popsicle and ripped the top of the wrapper off with my teeth. My execution was flawless, except for the purple popsicle projectiles that flew out of the package and dripped straight down the beautiful white polo shirt I had bought two days earlier. I composed myself and delivered the popsicle to my son, who had already forgotten his injury and started playing with his toys. It was a little messy, but he felt better, which is all that matters, right?
Please don’t let this situation shape your opinion of me as a caretaker. I’m perfectly capable of taking care of my boy in my wife’s absence. That being said, I did almost get myself, my son, and my mom, arrested while my wife was gone. In my defense, though, there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for that. My son was battling a cough and went to spend the afternoon with my mom. We were out of children’s cough medicine, so I asked my mom to pick up some children’s Sudafed on her way to drop him back off at our place. I took my own newly-empty bottle of cough syrup downstairs to meet her when she arrived.
We exchanged pleasantries and she showed me the medicine she bought. I told her I could just pour half of it into my empty bottle, so we could both have some at our respective homes. As I started pouring, I told my son to grab the cash that was in my pocket and give it to my mom to pay her for the medicine. As fate would have it, a police officer pulled up in front of my apartment building at that very moment.
He stepped out of his vehicle to see me pouring Sudafed (which is used in making meth) into an empty bottle, while an elderly woman watched me with anticipation. At the same time. my five year old son was attempting to slip said elderly woman a 20 dollar bill. As the officer walked past us, he appeared confused at what was happening. I’m convinced he would have stopped to ask “what’s going on here?” had I not looked so apelike in my desperate attempt to pour a liquid from one plastic bottle into another without spilling it.
Eventually I finished pouring, we concluded our “transaction,” and my son and I made it safely back upstairs without incident. So, yeah. You can send your “Dad of the Year” nominations in right now. Nobody’s better at taking care of a kid while their wife’s away than me. Other than the fact that I almost left him unattended for a few minutes with a homeless gentleman in Walmart. Again, there’s a totally rational explanation for this situation as well.
I took my son to Walmart to pick up a few items for the next day’s breakfast because SOMEBODY had already eaten all the Coco Puffs (me.) As soon as we walked in, I felt a rumblin’ in my tummy. Downing an entire box of Coco Puffs in a single afternoon did not appear to agree with my stomach. I was now facing the real possibility of dealing with a severe case of Coco Butt…in Walmart. I grabbed my son’s hand and we rushed to the bathroom.
The second we stepped inside my son squealed. “IT SMELLS YUCKY! IT SMELLS YUCKY!.” In retrospect, I can’t blame him because there was, in fact, more than a hint of “yucky” in the air of the Walmart bathroom. He refused to fully enter the bathroom as I pleaded with him to come with me into the stall, lest I have a Chernobyl-level explosion on my hands. I looked around for a nice lady that I could have watch him while I went inside to do my business.
Although I couldn’t find a nice lady, I did see a spry fella’ of about 75 years, with weathered jeans, a sweat-soaked hoodie, yellowed chest-length beard, and a probable rap sheet of about 7 pages. I thought better of it, and told my son to just stick his head inside his shirt, as I picked him up and ran into the bathroom stall. I know he thought it was “yucky” at first, but that was nothing compared to what I put him through when we got inside. Anyway, he survived, and I didn’t have to leave him with Prospector Pete in the end. We finished our shopping and made our way home, safe and sound.
The point is that I am a great dad. My wife can feel confident that any time she needs to leave town, I’ll be there to pick up the slack. Sure, I ruined an expensive shirt trying to soothe the pain of my son knee-capping his own eye-socket, but who hasn’t? And yes…On paper, I made my son the middle-man in a downtown meth deal involving me and his grandmother, but he probably would have gotten off with probation anyway if we’d have gotten busted. And before you call me unfit for ALMOST leaving him with a homeless dude outside a Walmart bathroom, ALMOST doing something isn’t the same as actually doing it. Just ask the Fyre Festival guys.
I think you’ll agree that all of these examples are probably outliers, and not a true representation of my abilities. No matter how bad any of them may have appeared at first glance, the story always ended the same: Me and my son were just fine. So if, after hearing all of this, my wife doesn’t feel comfortable leaving town again, that’s a result of her own insecurity, not my incompetence. Ultimately, it wouldn’t be fair for her to judge me too harshly for stumbling into any of these situations. After all, they say the first day of anything new is always the hardest, so I’m sure the next nine will be a cake walk.