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Being a Dad Isn't Easy, When You're Lazy
An Introduction to my Girls
In 2010 I became a father for the first time. A beautiful baby girl, we'll call her Chloe, she is strong willed, intelligent and happy and I was ecstatic at being a father and psyched that for the first few weeks as all she wanted to do was sleep and be cute! Well that changed pretty quickly, and then in 2012 I became a father for the second time! Another beautiful baby girl who we'll call Jen. Both of these girls are ahead of the curve physically according to their doctors, smart as a whip (according to my me) and they are both gifted with their mothers thick red hair which has made every trip we ever make a reason for people to stop, stare and comment. This makes daddy slightly uncomfortable but I digress. The one thing to note is that they are happy, healthy and incredibly energetic.
Now A Few Words About Daddy
Daddy's favorite activities generally can't be called active. I've always loved movie theaters, television and playing video games on my home computer. So obviously the first words that spring to mind are 'lazy bum'. This is, in effect, very true. I've never been the guy who has a ton of activities and a constantly full schedule that keeps me on my toes 24/7, I was perfectly happy in my recliner watching a movie marathon with a cold beer and a sketchpad in hand. However, I also know what kind of example that sets for my girls, and as much as it turns me into a cranky mess to have a schedule so loaded I can't sit down for 5 minutes, I do recognize how important it is for their development that I turn off the TV, leave that ice cold stout in the fridge and get out of my delightfully comfortable recliner to go into the great big, non-air conditioned outside to engage in family friendly activities.
What kind of activities you ask?
All kinds of activities. I never knew there were so many things to do with your kids!
- Every park within a 10 mile radius of our home and both grandparents homes is loaded into our GPS.
- Story time at a half dozen varying locations with 30 other screaming kids.
- Birthday parties for at least one of our friends kids virtually every weekend.
- Zoos, amusement parks, farms, the bouncehouse, arboretums.
- Pick your own strawberries, blueberries, apples, pears, figs?
- Museums and kid friendly educational facilities.
- Swim class, art class, dance class, gymnastics class, intro to sports, playhouse, rock climbing . . . yes, ROCK CLIMBING!
I can't deny, all of this stuff is a whole lot of fun. We always have a great time, occasionally a tantrum or two but what do you expect with a 3 year old and a not quite 2 year old? Plus when they are good, I get rewarded. No, seriously, if they're good we take them for dinner and dessert at a family friendly restaurant or our local ice cream place. There they methodically plow through their food leaving a solid twenty minutes of blissful quiet where daddy can just drink some water and revive in silence. Ahhhhh! Then, when all is said and done, it's time to go home!
Home again home again jiggety-jig
So we've had our day and we're heading home. It's been a good day I'm exhausted and ready for some 'me' time, Chloe and Jen are asleep in the back and we're almost home when I realize . . . there's still 3 hours until bedtime! As soon as the car stops in the driveway the screaming starts,
"Are we home?",
"TAKE A BAFF!",
"I want a snack!"
I take a deep breath...take another.
"OK girls, why don't you go play and we'll put on a quick show before bath and bed?"
Calmness, at least for the time being is restored. I look longingly at my recliner and I can hear the ice cold bottle of stout in the fridge calling me. No problem, a couple hours which include a bath and then I can settle in and calm down in to my nice clean house and relax. Wait, did I say clean? Oh no no no! The toys are now being dragged out of every nook and cranny of the house and scattered to every corner. I try to manage it for a while because I can't stand to have a cluttered house but there's no getting around the mess. I don't want to stop them from playing and I want them to wear themselves out as soon as possible! So I let it go on trying to keep control of the mess until bathtime.
Bath and Bed - FINALLY!
Bath time is an exercise in herding cats. Naked cats who just want to climb onto the couch and wave at the neighbors! Now granted Chloe being 3 is a big girl now and she puts her clothes in the hamper and marches to the bathroom ready for the bath. Jen, however is down to her diaper playing catch me and then HEY! She realizes she can take her diaper off and promptly pees on the floor. A quick look at the clock tells me bedtime is going to be late already. Finally, we're in the bath and the girls are getting as clean as you can get kids that age while splashing everything in the bathroom, including daddy. Ironically the warm bath which is meant to calm them down and get them ready for bed has the opposite effect and in the middle of drying them off they take off in opposite directions and the chase is on! My wife wrangles Jen I manage to get Chloe out of the picture window before she flashes half the neighborhood.
It is finally bedtime! The girls seem to be winding down. Stories are read, the girls get their songs and stuffed animals and give that final "I love you", before they fall asleep. Now it's time to clean up the house.
Clean up time!
When it comes to cleaning up after your kids go to bed do you?
Now the kids are in bed. So we close our eyes, turn around and nervously open them to the equivalent of a high yield explosion of toys, games, clothes and anything else they can pull off the shelves. Looking at the clock I realize that in less than 2 hours, an hour after their official bedtime, they have managed to take our home from a relatively tidy little rancher to a hoarders apocalypse!
Gritting our teeth we divide up the chores and begin the arduous task of sorting through all the toys, putting the books back on the shelves, straightening the kitchen, taking out the trash and the plethora of other little tasks that have to be accomplished if I want to have some time to relax and be able to see the floor. However, this is not as straight forward a task as you may think. Sure the stuffed animals are easy enough, then you realize that all those little tiny plastic dinosaurs, legos, bristle blocks and other toys they received for holidays that contain a thousand pieces. Hmmm no problem, I can kinda sweep them into a big pile and ummm what's that? Oh! It's the raisins you gave them as a snack embedded so deeply into the carpet that only fire will separate them. Still it comes out OK with a lot of elbow grease and, what's that smell? So that's where that sippy of milk went 3 days ago!
Annoying true, but manageable. Then while hunting for the last pieces of that jigsaw puzzle there is a rapid series of events. A creak, a door slam, a baby screaming in fright at a sudden noise and the muffled footsteps of a 3 year old running down the hall with a big smile and a declaration that she is "too excited to sleep." Well that makes one of us. The next half hour is spent soothing one back to sleep and quietly caving in to little demands from the other just to get a couple hours of quiet time. So she gets a drink of water, 10 stuffed animals, 2 books and 3 more songs later she finally FINALLY falls asleep. Ahh now that she's asleep we can . . . oh the living room is still a mess and the trash has to be taken out and the dishes have to be finished and I've got to iron clothes for work tomorrow and and and and!!!
At long last peace and quiet!
The girls are finally asleep, the chores are finally done and I am ready to start my work week. However, it's also 11 at night. I have to get some sleep otherwise I'll be worthless for work the next day. So with one final longing look at my comfortable recliner and final whisper from that stout in the fridge I begrudgingly take that slow walk towards my bedroom. I open my bedroom door to find that Chloe has snuck into the bedroom and is sleeping fully on my side of the bed. Resigned, I get ready for bed, move her over and get into bed and she promptly curls up against me as I turn out the lights and get ready to sleep.
I lay there with my eyes open in the dark for a while, as Chloe adjusts in her sleep kneeing me in the ribs a few times, and I begin to think about the day we've had. Sure, we were up and moving at the crack of dawn and I've barely had a minute to site down and rest but so what? Right here, right now I've got two incredible little girls who love me, trust me and want to be around me all the time. Maybe it's sappy and maybe it's taking away my me time, but it's not really about me anymore is it? So with a contented sigh and the knowledge that my TV, recliner and stout aren't going anywhere the lazy dad drifts happily off to sleep, ready to do it all again next weekend.