“I’m running away from home. I don’t know where I’m going, but I can’t stay here and let everybody be mean to me, so I’m running away.”
Did you ever feel like saying that to your kids?
I felt like that over the Martin Luther King Day long weekend.
The five-year-old had been home from school with the pukes on Thursday and Friday, so he was just a little stir crazy.
The one-year-old had inherited the bug from his brother. He wasn’t sure his fever was enough to let me know this, so he cemented my understanding by puking all over me. That was fun. It gave me another opportunity to bathe him, and if there’s one thing fathers love to do, it’s give toddlers baths – stinky, sick toddlers most of all. The best part was that I had to defer showering the puke off myself until he was clean. Society frowns upon letting a baby marinate in his own juices.
If I’d been smarter, I would have left the smell on me longer. This would have deterred the big boy from climbing on top of me, every time I sat down, with his One Hit Wonder, “Daddy, what game can we play?” Kindergarteners who have been away from their friends too long suffer a play deficit. The deficit deepens every minute, and it begins at crisis levels.
“How about we play that game where Daddy puts everybody to bed and opens a bottle of scotch at 11 a.m.?”
“No? Then sit quietly and think up other games and I’ll tell you when you hit one that’s better.”
Much crying and whining later, Mommy came home, upset over trouble with a sponsor for a school fund-raiser she’d volunteered to coordinate. She was so upset she didn’t even respond to all the crying and whining I was doing. The toddler was feeling well enough to fight with his brother, which took an iota of pressure off me to supply the latter with a marathon of fun.
When the boys quit trying to break each other, the big boy jumped on me, demanding that I assume the roles of his missed schoolmates. The little boy cried his I’m beyond comforting, but keep trying to comfort me anyway cry to remind me that, when he wasn’t hitting somebody, he was at leisure to remember his hurting tummy.
After dinner, I snuck away to the bedroom and turned on sports. I don’t remember what game was on, but peace was the prize. I couldn’t relax though. I kept thinking about poor Mommy, down there alone with those demons. I felt guilty about abandoning her. Finally, my conscience made me go back down into the vortex. The boys flew to my suddenly magnetic personality. Tumult ensued.
A while later, I realized Mommy was gone. I quieted the boys enough to listen for the upstairs TV. It was on, but it was no longer tuned to sports.
And it was still only Saturday.