While my kindergarten-aged son eats his lunch, I sit down at my laptop at the dining room table to read the “1% article” that Nobel Economist Stiglitz wrote in Vanity Fair that so many people are talking about, and try to keep up on what the adult population is reading/discussing. I get a few paragraphs into the article when my toddler daughter, who is in the living room, asks for a snack. However, she’s not wearing any underwear, having taken them off along with her pants to use her potty five minutes ago. The reason? She wet the undies a little bit. I get up to go upstairs to get her a clean pair of undies when I see that she is using markers (washable) to draw on not just a piece of cardboard but the loveseat as well. Since, instead of using the green Ikea worktable bought for her second birthday by her grandparents, she decided to use the loveseat as a work table. (This is one of the reasons we have slipcovers.)
Upon this discovery I exclaim, “Noooooo!” and take the markers and piece of cardboard and place them on the green kid-friendly work table. Then I exclaim that the green table is for “art” not the loveseat, couch, chair, or ottoman, and I yank the slip cover off the loveseat, go upstairs to the laundry room and proceed to use the Shout stick to spot clean the various marks before putting the slipcover into the washer.
I remember that my daughter needs a clean pair of undies, so I go into her room, get the pair of undies, then go back downstairs, give them to her, at which point my son asks for potato chips, now that he’s finished his peanut butter crackers, and my toddler daughter asks for “chips, too.”
But I see the wet undies on the living room floor. So I tell my kids, “hold on a minute,” pick up the damp undies and run back upstairs to put the undies in my daughter’s hamper. I jog back down the stairs, go into the kitchen, wash my hands (something I probably do a hundred times a day which is why my hands in the winter time get so dry that the skin cracks at the knuckles and they start to bleed a little because I often forget to put lotion on my hands), open the pantry, grab the bag of potato chips, go back into the dining room where I open the bag, take out a handful for my son and place them on his plate. My daughter climbs into her seat and demands that I put some chips, as she always does, not on a plate but on the table top where her plate normally is set. Then she asks to be pushed in, so I push her in because she can’t climb in and out of the chair with her booster chair in it.
I start typing this missive, this report, this document, because I suddenly have the urge to record, to show, somewhere somehow why it was I, a stay-at-home-dad could never complete all the things I wanted to get done on any given day when my son asks to be excused from the table after eating about 2/3 of the chips and then my daughter, who has now eaten all of the chips I’d placed in front of her, wants to get down. So I pull her chair back from the table and she runs after her brother.
I begin anew on this record of my day and amid the laughter and sound effects emanating from the living room, I hear a thump followed by some crying. My daughter has fallen during some innocent horseplay. I get up from the dining room table and run into the living room to find out what happened and to comfort her only to find that once again she is not wearing any underwear.
She calms down quickly, not being much hurt, and I tell her to put her underwear back on and she says they’re wet. So I take the damp undies upstairs to her room, put them in the hamper and get a pair of clean undies from her changing table (the sight of which reminds me once again that despite her apparent bad day with the toilet that day, she really needs a dresser and the changing table is too small for her), then go back downstairs and give her the clean undies.
I sit down again at the dining room table and try to recapture my train of thought and decided I’m feeling put-upon and that some Morrissey would be good to sooth me. On my laptop I flip to Firefox and get onto Youtube and find the video for “I’m Putting My Arms Around Paris.” I don’t own either the song or album on which the song is included. Though it’s a song of heartache, it’s catchy and I find it comforting and funny, seeing as how Morrissey in his melodramatic way feels that his love is unreturned.
Which can be like being a parent. My children need love, attention, and guidance, among many many things. The rewards of parenting are often fleeting, long-delayed…
Now more crying can be heard from upstairs. I get up once again and at the top of the stairs I find a crying daughter who closes the door to her room. My son is apologizing to his sister for accidentally hurting her by shutting his door on her when she attempted to take a book out of his room that he did not want her to take.
“I want a cookie,” she says. I take her to the pantry and offer her some Nilla wafers, she says, “no.” I offer her a graham cracker, she says, “no.” I offer her some Cheerios, she says, “no.”
My son tells me he needs tape to keep the flagpole, taken from the Turkish flag he got from his trip with my wife to Turkey last summer, attached a Nerf rocket that has been ripped, and jammed with a variety of things that has now rendered the rocket incapable of flying. Knowing that he will completely use up any cellophane tape I give him, I say, “I don’t know that we have a lot and I don’t want to use up what little your mother has left. When your mom gets home we’ll see.” He’s disappointed.
My daughter starts chanting “I want juicee! I want juicee! I want juicee!” So I ask, “What do you say?”
She answers, “Pweeze!” and starts chanting “pweeze!” over and over until I get the juice from the fridge, pour it into her Dora thermos, and hand it to her.
“Fank you,” she says.
“You’re welcome,” I say.
I sit down at the table and start to type again. “I want a snack, too,” says my son.
I ask him, “What do you want?”
He says, “What are my choices?”
“Just tell me what you want.”
“Well, I don’t know.”
“Well, I can’t give you a snack unless you tell me.”
He slinks off upstairs with his tape-deprived contraption and I hear him shut the door to his room.
“Where’s Henry?” asks my daughter. I say, “Upstairs, in his room, I think.”
I go back to typing and a few minutes into fixing typos and editing a line or two, my daughter says, “I need to poop.” Still not wearing any undies she runs over to her potty and poops in it. This is a big deal. Doing the number two in the potty has taken a bit more training than tinkling in the potty. Most days she poops in her underwear, which requires a lot more wiping, both front and back, and undie-soaking in the sink. So poop in the potty is great! I help her clean herself, dump the poop into the “big potty” in the bathroom, clean out the potty-cup, put the cup back in its place, wash my hands, then give my daughter a bunch of M&Ms, since that’s what we’ve been offering her as encouragement. She is ecstatic, taking her M&Ms into the living room to munch on.
At this point, I think it’s crazy to even attempt to document my day, seeing as how I’ve had a difficult time writing what’s occurred in the last 30 minutes or so, and it’s now painfully obvious why it is I am unable to do all the laundry, cleaning, reading, and writing, oh, and cooking, too, I try to do on any given day.
I love my kids. It’s just that it’s easy to forget that love in those frantic side-tracking moments which seem to stretch for hours at a time.