A chicken in every pot and a child in every arm: good luck trying to eat the chicken

People without multiple small children at home must think I exaggerate wildly when I complain about the difficulty of accomplishing anything with children underfoot. These people are wrong. I only wildly exaggerate these difficulties part of the time.

Complaining always feels better when you exaggerate the problem. Who wants to be accused of complaining about trifles? But sometimes you don’t have to exaggerate; your carping can flow easily from real life events.

The other afternoon, I took vacation time to care for Buster and Big Man so my wife could pick up a shift at her job. We met at her work and swapped cars. Big Man was napping in his seat, but Buster cried because he wanted to stay with Mommy.

After 10 minutes of trying to reason with Buster and build up Daddy as an acceptable parent, Mommy had to go. Buster cried all the way home. As we pulled into the garage, Big Man woke up. One-year-olds are often still groggy after a nap and need to be held. Crying three-year-olds need hugs. Daddy desperately needed some lunch, but with a child in each arm, that wasn’t likely.

I was able to lower Buster before my arms turned to jelly, but he kept himself comforted by hugging my leg. The floor turned to hot lava when I tried to put Big Man down. He tightened his grip around my neck. I didn’t force the issue, as one crying child is plenty.

I made what lunch I could with one arm and one leg. It was not tasty.

Hands free parenting

Do they sell these at Target? I could really use one. (Image: Keystone View Company)

Buster quit sobbing and lay down on the futon in the sun room. Big Man shook off his cob webs and let me put him down. This would allow me to tidy up before running errands.

Two seconds later, Buster was asleep. So much for packing them in the car to run errands.

But wait, the next time I looked that way, Big Man had climbed onto the futon and sat on Buster’s head.

Buster woke up, crying again. (Big Man is not an inconsequential toddler to find sitting atop your head.) But as long as everybody was up, errands were back on.

A cold front was moving through, so everybody needed to be changed into warmer clothes.

An hour later, we got in the car and headed to our first destination. Big Man was asleep again. Fortunately, all I had to do was open the trunk and point out a box. A helpful gentleman took it away. No, it wasn’t a weapons deal; it was recycling.

Then it was across town to make a merchandise return for Mommy. No matter that Big Man was asleep, I’d just carry him into the store.

We parked. I turned around to face two sleeping children. I couldn’t carry both around the store. We backed out of the spot and drove home to finish napping. Daddy could work while they slept, except that Big Man woke up when we got home.

He was still groggy. He needed to be held.


Where have you hidden my manhood this time?

These days I have a devil of a time laying hold of that six-inch long piece of equipment that constitutes my manhood. I suspect I’m not the only husband and father with this trouble. I bet lots of men roam their houses, in desperate frustration, searching for the TV remote.

Just as he needs a comfortable chair, set squarely before the TV, a man need his scepter of entertainment power, preferably programmed to skip anything educational and the various Lifetime channels.

With three boys and a grown-up woman in the house, I don’t get charge of the remote very much. This is a hard knock, but I’ve gotten used to it. I’ve learned to be satisfied with a few minutes of executing my will over the TV after everyone has gone to bed, on the nights when they go to bed before my time is up.

Who needs  the remote?

“The remote? Why would you need that? The TV’s already tuned to cartoons.”

What drives me up the wall is when I finally get the TV to myself and there’s no remote to be found. Since it’s technically the cable remote, I can’t even change the channel manually. I’m stuck watching Ninja Turtles as my reward for outlasting them all.

They all have their different methods of losing the remote. One routinely takes it to a different room, where it no doubt also controls the toaster. One loses it underneath couch cushions. One throws it into a toy box.

I caught on to all these tricks and was renewing my acquaintance with televised sports when Big Man began his own love affair with the device. Big Man doesn’t care what channel the TV is on, but that remote is just full of fat, juicy buttons to push, and some of them do things to the TV that make his family react in the most hilarious ways.

keeping watch

Guarding your stash is a 24/7 job. Handcuffs for trespassers are optional.

My wife is a self-proclaimed, part-time hoarder. On the other hand, she hates clutter. She reconciles these positions by stuffing her hoard into cupboards and baskets. This issue would not be related to my difficulty locating the remote except Big Man seems to have inherited these contradictory conditions from her.

He has a little cache behind the stereo  where he keeps his prized possessions. His prized possessions are objects that caught his attention for a minute, until he decided it would be fun to drop them into a hole. He has a second cache behind the kids’ chair in the living room. In these caches can be found Leap Frog toys, plastic soldiers, the tail section of a Mega Bloks helicopter, a good portion of my once-pristine CD collection (with or without cases), and something I spent most of a Saturday afternoon looking for so I could watch something besides Peppa Pig for a damned minute.

Oh well, TV is overrated anyway. Maybe we should investigate some more intellectually fulfilling pursuits, like reading to each other or going to family hoarders’ therapy. Maybe we could just relax and listen to some nice music. Oh wait, where are my CDs?