Friday, February 24, 2012

Ten Days as a Single Dad

MamaGoof is in LA, minding her aging parents (we lost her beloved aunt a year and a half ago). She had to extend the trip, which means things are not good. That leaves me single dadding for the time being. No problem, I’ve got this down – for the most part. I am not saying I am superdad, by any means – I’m not! But I’m probably at least a journeyman. I know all the tricks – playdates, judiciously deployed TV (you don’t want to use it too often it leaves them hyper and listless – like feeding them candy), and of course adventures. I keep them fed (I can’t cook – but I can prepare food so we do eat things besides pizza.)

Still, it gets wearing. In downtown DC on Presidents Day visiting the memorials the little Goofs got whiney and I snapped at them. GoofBoy observed, “I wish mommy were here, she is nicer.”

I replied, “That’s not true – I am pretty nice. I’ve seen plenty of times when mommy got really mad with you too. The difference is when I’m mad, mommy takes you and when mommy gets frustrated I can take over. But now it is just me, so after a while you can see why I might get a little irritated?”

But we had a snack, which perked up GoofGirl and then I found out that GoofBoy had a homework crisis. It was a crisis I could have resolved anytime over the extended weekend but GoofBoy had to wait until late Monday afternoon. Still, a couple phone calls and emails (smartphones are an important parenting tool) and it was resolved and GoofBoy’s mood also improved.

But it isn’t all me. The little Goofs have stepped up to the plate. GoofGirl combines the wonderful virtues of being extremely picky about food and being hungry all the time. I admit my Shabbat dinners leave much to be desired compared to the wonderful steaks MamaGoof usually grills – but I have very little patience for food-oriented complaints. (In fairness, MamaGoof had made most of this stuff – I was just re-heating it.) I also don’t really care if the little Goofs eat. I believe there are two types of parents – those who are worried if the children are getting enough to eat and those who don’t. I am of the latter camp; MamaGoof is of the former (I would bet that a statistically valid study could be done that finds those categories overlap perfectly with parents who worry that the children will be cold or not.) My logic is that in our house food is plentiful. If kids won’t eat it, they can suffer the consequences.

GoofGirl’s attitude at dinner was perturbing me. But GoofBoy stepped in and talked to his sister. Calming her, telling her if she would just eat a little of the meat he would finish it. I walked away and GoofGirl ate.

GoofGirl has also tried to be helpful. She has begged to do laundry, as clothes piled up. MamaGoof won’t let me touch the dirty clothes, although I finally had to. No one tell her – fortunately she doesn’t read my blog! She gets up early and makes her own breakfast and this morning as I was rushing she easily stepped in – without being asked – and made lunch for herself and her brother. Packing school lunches is my parental Achilles heel.

Love my kids and I don’t know how I could be a dad without them!

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