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Dad on Duty: Home Alone with the Kids
The Wife is back home and all has returned to ‘normal’ around here. Last week’s solo parenting adventure went pretty well. Of course, what would any installment of Daddy on Duty be without a climactic ending?
After a couple days without Mom, we were actually on cruise control. I was feeling confident, cocky even, so I took the kids outside for a cookout and dinner on the porch. No problem. I even managed to get the kids to eat a few mouthfuls of vegetables. I started to think, Have some, doubters! I’ve got this down.
That’s when my hubris bit me in the ass, and everything came unraveled like a Greek tragedy.
It started when my 17-month-old daughter, who we’ve affectionately dubbed Godzilla for very good reason, unloaded a diaper-bulging deuce while finishing up her dinner. She just dropped it like nobody’s bidniz, right there at the table. A little rude? Yes, but I was willing to make allowances because she’s on the cute side.
Godzilla was immediately upset by the act of sitting in her own filth, as any reasonable human being should be, so I picked her up and started heading inside to change her. Before entering, I asked my two-year-old son, a.k.a. Lil’ O, if he wanted to come with us or stay outside and play. As he does with every single question he’s asked, he pondered for about a minute and a half, carefully weighing the options, and then responded, “I will stay outside and play with trucks.” There were no trucks outside, so his response was a little concerning, but I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. I had a changing pad and diapers stashed in the family room, just on the other side of some large windows that would allow me to supervise him, so I ducked into the house.
This is where things started to get ugly. As soon as I put Godzilla down on the changing pad, she started screaming and kicking, because throwing random temper tantrums when people are trying to help you is sooooo cool these days in the toddler community. She was flailing about, grabbing at anything within reach, kicking me in the family jewels —basically, all the behavior that makes you happy to be a parent of a toddler.
I got her diaper off and was trying to clean her up when she caught hold of the dirty diaper and – that’s right! – flung it across the room. I won’t say that the sh*t hit the fan, only because there isn’t a fan in that room. Otherwise, it would have, because it hit everything else.
At that exact moment, my son started pounding on the back door and howling, “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” I could see him through the glass, and he appeared to be in one piece and not bleeding profusely, so I told him to hang on a minute. I was literally elbow-deep in poo at this time, and Godzilla was trying desperately to wipe her filthy cheeks all over the furniture, so my options were limited.
The pounding and howling continued.
More pounding and screaming.
I got Godzilla reasonably clean and reassembled, and stormed over to the back door.
“WHAT?” I growled as I opened the door.
“I have to go poo-poo.”
I took one look at the way he was standing, and I could tell that I was too late. Now I felt like a big pile of the stuff that was starting to ooze out of my son’s shorts. I took him to the bathroom and stripped off his soiled shorts, as well as his shirt, just for good measure. I tried cleaning him up with some diaper wipes, which I’d carried with me from the Godzilla diaper change debacle. It wasn’t working. I sacrificed a hand towel in an effort to mop up the poo. No luck. There was So. Much. Crap. It was like trying to clean out an industrial pig farm with a handful of wet Kleenex. I was just pushing around the mess.
So back outside we went. It was a warm evening, so I didn’t feel too bad about spraying him down with the garden hose. It was really the only option. Plus, he loved it. He danced around and made such giddy noises that I didn’t even notice Godzilla charging into the scene until it was too late. As I was spraying off Lil’ O (with the gentle “shower” setting, mind you), she just came zipping right in front of the hose; fully clothed, giggling hysterically. Okay, not ideal, but this would save me the trouble of trying to bathe both kids by myself – which in this house, is like trying to wrestle two overgrown salamanders covered in hydrogenated vegetable oil. So I pulled off Godzilla’s drenched jumper and proceeded to spray down both kids as they ran around the yard screaming with joy.
Now I had two soaked kids, and just as I noticed my neighbors peering at the scene suspiciously from their window, I realized I had no towels. So I grabbed both wet kids and carried them, dripping, into the house. That’s when Godzilla decided it would be a perfect time to pee. All over my shirt. Are you kidding me? Why does stuff only happen when I’m alone?
Off went the shirt, back outside to repeat the previous hosing off exercise, only this time with a shirtless dad thrown into the mix. The neighbors were starting to dial Social Services now, for sure, so I packed up the entire operation and brought the whole sodden mess inside to ruin a few more towels.
By the time I finally got everyone dried and dressed, it was time for the kids to hit the sack. My son was so exhausted from the excitement that he actually put himself to bed. That never happens, and I made a mental note to repeat the entire ridiculous ordeal the next time he was being a pill at bedtime. Then I carried Godzilla into her room to lay her down. As I was putting her in her crib, she looked up at me, eyes fluttering with fatigue, and just said, “Happy.”
“Me, too, baby girl. Me, too.”
But I can’t wait for mommy to get home.
Jeff Kent is a freelance writer who attempts to work from home amid the perpetual chaos created by his two hyper-mobile kids. His depiction of the insane life of a modern parent appears on Dad on Arrival.