Friday, September 25, 2015

The New Routine

The routine. Parents, you can relate. Every morning it’s the same thing. Get the kid up. Get kid fed. Dress kid. Get kid to school.

But there's a new wrinkle in this routine. (Well, more of the same from the last post). But usually by the time we pull up to daycare, my little guy is all about his Daddy. Hugging and clinging to me, that big, lovable smile on his face that brightens my day. I take him to his little classroom, give him another hug and kiss, then head to work.

But something transpires between the time I drop him off and the time I see him again. When I leave him he’s or fuzzy little guy, when I see him again in the evening he’s um, not a big fan.

If you’ve ever seen the movie 50 First Dates, it’s kind of what I’m dealing with here. I have to start from scratch every evening. He makes me earn it. Because my kid—the same one who's hugging me when I drop him off—doesn’t want me around when he comes home. Nope. He wants me away. Far, far away. 

We’re talking restraining order away.

At first I suspected foul play. I thought maybe my wife was throwing me under the bus on the way home. You know, nothing obvious, just some subtle jabs to keep her spot secure. But then I realized that I wasn’t being rational. If I’m going to stay ahead of my two year old I need to remain rational

Hmm. Could it be that I’m the drop off guy, thus the one responsible for making him leave home when he could be watching Curious George on the couch. Light bulb time. Maybe there's something to that. 

But it hurts all the same.

Here I am rushing out to the driveway, picture it in slow motion, arms spread, ready to take the little bundle in my arms when--record scratching across the soundtrack--he waves me away.

 "Get away Daddy.”


Dinner is more of the same. But I've got material and, slowly, he warms up to me. (I've got an endless arsenal of slapstick comedy at my disposal, if all else fails I can just run into the doorway, respect be damned.

A little smile peeks out and I've got him. He's all mine until bedtime, or breakfast the nest morning. 

But tomorrow is Saturday, so there's hope. No hauling the little bugger off to school. 

I'll keep you posted.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Slide...

“Go away Daddy.”

Not only is it rude, it hurts some. I slump off to the darkness, resigned to eat my cereal alone. My kid welcomes his mother to the table for breakfast. She asks why he doesn’t want me around.

Something about elephants. I laugh, overplaying my hand. He shoots me daggers when I try to sneak back in, sweeping his hand towards my chair.


We remind him to use his manners.

“No thank you.”

Okay, that backfired. But trying to reason with a two-year-old can be like trying to reason with a two-year-old. Trust me, I’ve tried. But this morning he was particularly serious. The kid means business.

Of course I know that the pendulum swings to and fro, that tonight it might be me who he wants. But that doesn’t make the bitter pill of rejection any easier to swallow.

And he has been a little under the weather recently, so maybe he’s only trying to keep me well. Yeah, I think that’s it. The little booger is so worried about getting me sick that he’s sacrificing being around me in an effort to keep me from getting sick. I like it. Thanks son.

Sure, he has that connection with his mom, you know, being that he used to live in there and all. But I’ve pushed that kid over fifty miles on that plastic John Deere mower, so that should count for something, right?

Oh but what's the use with excuses. It’s not just at home where I’m getting shunned. Yesterday I took the little fella out to Grandma and Papa’s house. I’d only just gotten him out of the car when my own flesh and blood bailed on me, basically leaping out of my arms and towards the riding mower waiting for him out in the yard. And to make matters worse, Papa had gone and put a horn on the tractor for effect. Hear that? That’s the sound of me free-falling down the favorite people list.

Poor Dad.

Maybe I’ll take up a hobby. Going to need to do something with all this free time on my hands….sigh…

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Day I Learned...

I can’t say I was shocked. Surprised, yes. Sweaty? Very. But not shocked.

It was evening, back in the day of few responsibilities. When I look back on this life-changing encounter with my wife, it’s boggling to think of all the free time. Floating around, there for the taking…Okay, sorry, where were we? Surprised. Right.

I’d just come back from basketball and stumbled upon an extremely frazzled woman sitting at the edge of the couch. Upon further inspection I noticed that that woman was my wife. She told me to sit down, then after some fidgeting, “Wait, take a shower first.”

I shot her a look. Something was up. Did she get a raise? No, as a public school teacher that line of thinking falls squarely in the joke category. And she wasn’t exactly smiling. So I took a shower, my mind racing with possibilities of what was coming. My wife isn’t prone to getting worked up. She’s not a fidgeter. That's my department. She’s the even in our keel, so to see her all red faced and breathing funny it had to be good. Or bad. It could be bad...

“Okay, what?” I asked, my physique shimmering in the glow of dusk. Whatever, this is my depiction, here. My wife pointed to the couch. 


I sat.

“So….” She gave me a look. Like I was missing something. I sorted through my thoughts. I really gotta get my jump shot back on track.

“I’m pregnant.”

Wait. “Huh?"

More staring.

“Are you sure?"

More staring, this time with a look I've since deciphered to mean: You're an idiot. 


Elation. A thrill of joy I will never forget. A family. This is great. Although we have/had that Jamaica trip planned, but…A Kid!

The reason I wasn’t shocked was because a few months prior we’d passed by the nearby CVS. My wife had mentioned that she needed to refill her birth control. I’ll never forget sitting at that light. Turn left and get the pills. Go straight and pull the goalie.

The light turned green and I plunged ahead, thus sacking the goalie. Man, such a rebel. But honestly I didn’t feel that rebellious. I was thirty-six and I don’t know how else to put this but I really didn’t think my stuff worked. We went about our business. Trying but not trying. The last thing I wanted to do was tell the world, “Hey guess what? We’re trying to have a baby!”

So on that couch I was less than shocked but more than surprised. And that euphoria that hit when she told me she was pregnant? Well, it lasted through most of that initial embrace. Goosebumps hit like a pad of bristles under my skin. My mind flooded with the happiest happy I’ve ever experienced in my life until that point.

Then it was gone.

An immense fear followed. It engulfed me like an itchy wool cloak of uncertainty. A human. A real, walking talking, pooping human. My human. I would be responsible for seeing that it was fed and clothed and didn’t like soccer (I’m kidding, he can like soccer). On top of that I had to raise it so that it wouldn’t grow up and be a serial killer. And then, after being sure that my well-fed, clothed, moderate-to-decently-raised human wasn't a career criminal, I had to hope and pray he wouldn't cross paths with a serial killer. Phew. It's not easy living in this mind of mine.

“Are you okay?”

I nodded. What in the hell was I thinking? That goalie had been the only thing keeping my fragile mind at ease. Now I was freefalling. This wasn’t like picking out a dog. Where you go to the kennel and pick out that cute little mutt. I was great with dogs. Throw the stick and the fetch the stick. This was different.

That week was a blur. Me. A father. How would this work? Everything was about to change. Alternating voices controlled my thoughts.


And since that day, this has been the ongoing struggle...

I told my friends (Ha, I had friends!). Had a few guys over and we had some beers. I broke out the news. At that point my joy in becoming a dad overpowered my anxiety. But not for long. Something happened to me. 

Up until then I thought panic attacks were something the paper bag companies came up with to spike sales. But it was no joke, I’d wake up sweating, my pulse racing and my breaths light. I'd bolt out of bed, pacing, swearing it was the big one. 

Then it happened again. Wake up, bolt upright. Shortness of breath, cold feet. Sweating. It happened so frequently that I finally saw a doctor. A few test and he assured that everything was fine. Calm down.

I calmed. I quit smoking. I watched my sugar intake.. I went a little crazy and started drinking organic apple cider vinegar. (I’d read that it helped, sorta).

Again, my doctor assured me I was fine. He told me not to come back for two years. He refused to be facebook buddies with me. He pointed from his heart to his head and said, "I’m not so sure the problem is here, but here.”

I babystepped my way out of his office, officially labeled a headcase by a physician. My wife laughed out loud.

The next few months were peaceful. We planned. I started a blog to document my craziness. I found out we were having a boy. I was still scared but I had no choice but to answer the call. We were going to have a family.

And now here we are...

Friday, September 4, 2015


The temperatures are still in the nineties, but fall is in the air. Maybe it’s that compost pumpkin we have growing out in the backyard. Could be that it’s football season. Or that my wife is back at school and my son has started his new school.

His school. I scoffed at first, thinking they were just dressing it up, calling it an early learning center because it sounds better than “daycare.” You know, like how you call a nursing home "assisted living". I knew what was going on.

But then I came to orientation. Yes orientation. But it really is something. I’m still getting over the whole thumb imprint scanner that checks him in. The little knee high water fountains. The little town setting of the classrooms. There's a library and a chef. This is a little different from the daycare of my youth, where I still remember playtime ending when the woman stubbed out her cigarette. 

Yep, it's definitely pretty sweet, this place, with plenty of smiling faces around. If it’s all a cover to hide a daycare fight club going on in the back, it's a sleek and snazzy operation--I haven’t been able to prove a thing yet. In fact, I have to admit, (and this may sound familiar), that my wife was right about the whole thing. It’s organized and neat and I’ve even hung back and peeked in through the window like a real creeper. 

They offered me a chair.

But so far it looks like this place checks out. Even when I linger around it doesn't seem to bother the teachers. Unfazed, they offered to let me come in for story time. (On further thought, I'm thinking she might have meant that I should actually read the story than sit and listen Billy Madison style).

But things are good with our little guy. It took him a few weeks to get going, but now he’s off and running. At dinner he tells us about his new friends. In the car he sings new songs. He's even getting his left from his right. Letters, numbers, all that stuff. I think were on the cusp of Algebra. He’s turning into an actual little kid right before our eyes.

I guess it’s worth the organs I’ll have to donate to keep him in there. But so far so good.