I'm married. I have a kid in her emerging tantrum years, a surgery-needing dog, a mortgage, receding hairline, while surrounded by suburban neighbors that view holiday yard decorations and grass height as a sign of one's manhood. Living the dream here.
But something magical happened recently despite the odds. The wife and I came to a truly mutual decision and it involved family. Unbelievable. It's taken 5+ years but like when Jerry and his fiancee have their mutual breakup on Seinfeld, it really happened!
The decision was to stay home for Thanksgiving. A big decision as neither of us had ever spent a T-day away from family or friends. An even bigger deal as the newest grand kid likely meant a tough battle for hosting rights amongst the competing families, and I was expecting a street brawl. So which is it, a five hour drive of cheerio feedings and screaming or a manic airport and two hour flight also with cheerios and some screaming? "Screw it. Let's stay home!" said in perfect harmony. Beautiful.
Quick side note; does anyone else feel like they've got a bomb strapped to them when they drag a toddler on an airplane? My single greatest dad fear (next to hearing "Daddy, want to see my new tattoo?"); baby-meltdown on an airplane. I go through security now feeling like I'm smuggling a spider monkey with a pound of blow. If TSA ever implements the anxiety sensors as part of screening, it's straight to the cavity search-only line for me. Sitting in the seat with her, I keep staring, sweating, counting down the seconds, hoping we land before the timer reaches zero. Or is it just me?
So to recap, the past four days were glorious as a married-with-children life can provide. I made the turkey and it was one of the best I've ever had. Turned leftovers into a mean turkey gumbo. (I should mention that I can cook and am acting chef for this outfit.) I had complete control; of the menu, the remotes, the bathroom, the beer supply. There was no fighting greedy in-laws or obnoxious siblings for leftovers. No sneaking off to a back bedroom to catch a quick peak at the game. No dirty looks or commentary when I went for another beer. No elders telling us our kid is too skinny, too fat, talks too much, doesn't talk enough, or what she should or shouldn't be eating. Sure the wife missed the chaotic house full of family and constant noise but then she did get to eat a whole pumpkin pie, by herself and I even let it pass. It's her holiday too.
Just four days of our rules, doing it our way. A few more years like this, and we'll be agreeing on Christmas. At least there's hope...
Monday, November 28, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011
"Are you ready to be a dad?" The great question that followed our discovery of what an impromptu, tear-stained shopping list of mint caffeine-free green tea, chocolate fudge (not chocolate!) ice cream, and pickles meant a few days before. A question the wife asked with only a small hint of levity. "Sure" was the best answer I could come up with while not choking on my own tongue.
From my own parent's example, I figured out (eventually) that it was probably a good idea to take an active role in parenting to keep your kids from turning into a real life Breaking Bad character or someone that calls their parents by their first name. My dad was in the army, my mom a nurse, so I had rules and free health care. I turned out well enough. Piece of cake. Faced with my own forthcoming child-rearing science experiment, I thought I was ready. But in the back of your mind, you just don't know how you'll respond when it really happens. Will I flinch at the smell of poop? Can I really hold a slippery baby without dropping it? How many drops do you get? Will I cave and get her an IPhone when she's five to make her love me? Will I turn into one of those people on the plane that just smiles or thumbs through a magazine while their kids act like rabid monkeys and take off for the cockpit? You just don't know until it happens.
Watching the minutes and weeks tick by until D-Day, I had to keep the thought process simple or go insane. My plan: keep fingers crossed that you contributed more good than evil DNA to create a healthy, normal little person that turns into a reasonably but not too attractive big person version of the best of you (and mom.) Let mom deal with the touchy girly, stuff. That just leaves me to deal with doing whatever the hell it takes to keep her off tables 'to pay for college.' Piece of cake.
How am I doing so far two years into this? Most nights, usually before bath time, I hear a squeal that means only one thing, she's either mostly or completely naked, running, and utterly ecstatic. It's like she knows its wrong but oh, does it feel good. Awesome. She's also started climbing up and standing on the coffee table, sofas, chairs or whatever else is around. She dances and quite well. At any toy, TV show, or sound that resembles anything sounding like music. She hasn't yet combined the two, but the guys at my liquor store are driving new cars. So yeah, doing swell. Thanks for asking.