September 13, 2011
Today, I was a wimpy dad. I’m not normally a wimpy dad, but today, I was.
First, I stayed home sick with a cold. I know, we’re supposed to tough out colds, but I was feeling really bad and decided to take care of myself since I’ll be taking care of myself with the intent of protecting my ability to take care of my family.
Okay, that’s not really wimpy. It’s a counter-cultural but justifiably non-wimpy decision. I figured that by the afternoon, I’d have felt well enough to get to clean up the disaster that is my kitchen and make dinner. My mom was going to come up and we were going to touch base on how things are going with the start of the school year. She was keeping both kids until 5, and was just going to bring them up with her. Alissa had a dental appointment, so she wasn’t going to be joining us until later.
Well, I forced my achy self out of bed at 3:30 and went out to the living room, attempting to steel myself for the evening ahead. And here’s where the wimpiness ensued. I sat on the couch, trying to work up the courage to get up and just do what needed to be done. But courage was absent or hidden behind a pounding head and a body aching from too long in bed. Or something. In any case, the courage or gumption necessary to power through was sorely lacking.
To my virus-addled mind, the dishes needing to go into the dishwasher were an unassailable mountain, the couple of bags of garbage needing to go the dumpster nothing less than granite monoliths that would crush me under their weight as I hauled them down the stairs. The relatively well-stocked refrigerator and pantry were as barren as the Rub ‘al Khali.
So I gave up. With Alissa’s blessing, I cancelled dinner with my mom and ordered pizza. She brought the kids up while I plugged the TV into the computer and went about selecting a movie on Netflix. The plan was simple. Give the kids easy food and entertainment until Super Mom, freshly invigorated from her summer cold with a nocturnal application of Vicks Vaporub to the soles of her feet (I don’t know), returned from the dentist. It was simple, and so, so wrong.
Perhaps it is due to that wrongness that it turned out the way it did. Everything was looking okay. By the time my mom dropped off the kids, the pizza was on its way. I got milk for the kids and we agreed to watch Tangled, Disney’s animated musical take on Rapunzel. A tired Harry lounged on the recliner, and Annie, fresh from a bit of a false start at preschool in the morning, cuddled up next to me on the couch. The movie started and all was well. Then came the knock on the door heralding the arrival of our pizza. Mindful of the cords near my feet, I rose from the couch and made my way toward the door. I hadn’t been mindful enough. The power cord, that essential component of any electronic device, had silently slithered around my unsuspecting ankles, a fact that only became aware of with the jerk about my legs that brought my poor laptop crashing to the floor. Rapunzel’s lyrical lament about her gilded cage vanished from the screen as I hurried to the door, silently praying that the accelerometers had detected the laptop’s fall and hardened it against the impact.
After retrieving the pizza and setting it in the kitchen, I righted the computer and turned it on without incident. Sighing with relief, I returned to the kitchen to dish up everyone’s dinner. It turns out that no one was terribly hungry. Harry’s cheese bread sat forlornly in his lap. Annie’s cheese pizza was untouched. I ate, since I hadn’t all day. Perhaps it’s the relative lack of processed food in my diet recently. Perhaps it’s the fact that Garlic Jim’s Gluten Free Pizza is just better than Pizza Hut pan pizza. I don’t know. All I know is that the cheese bread and pizza made me feel desicatted, like the salt and preservatives were drying me out from the inside. In other words…blech.
At least the computer still worked and we could keep watching the movie, right?
Yeah, about that…
The first sign of trouble was the seemingly plugged in computer shutting down when I closed the lid. This normally only happens when unplugged, but occasionally a video won’t run right in that mode and we leave the screen open. It’s not typically a problem with Netflix. Then, with the screen open, the computer powered down as if it were not plugged in, even though it was. I tightened a couple of connections and proceeded.
Of course, these interruptions had broken the spell of the movie and Harry decided that Tangled was too scary. (He’s been on the edge of his seat for all three original Star Wars movies. Compared to that, what’s scary about a bunch or ruffians and an evilly manipulative step mother?) Annie quickly agreed and we switched to a Land Before Time Movie…you know, because dinosaurs are not as scary as fairy tales.
During the change over, I did some more checking and saw that the computer was definitely not registering the power cord. I checked, and sure enough, the DC jack was broken. So that meant that the computer would run until the battery was drained. The remaining time on the movie was less than the remaining time on the battery. Well, we took the movie as far as we could.
That’s where the wheels fell off. I tried to get the kids to agree on a DVD of a TV show. Every choice was a feature length movie 45 minutes before bed time. Each of my suggestions was unacceptable. Harry melted down. Annie, in an act laden disturbingly with teen angst considering it was coming from a three year-old, stormed into her room and slammed the door.
They were done with me. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Harry wanted his Mommy.
Annie wanted her Mommy.
Okay, I’ll say it.
I wanted their Mommy.
I was feeling horrible. My head had been pounding before they started melting. I felt feverish, but I didn’t have a fever. I wanted Super Mom to swoop in and relieve me, to take charge of the kids and make everything right for them and for me. I just wanted to hide under the covers.
But there was no sign of her. She was still in the dental chair. My texts were unanswered.
Then they were. She was on her way to the store and then home.
Somehow, Harry calmed down enough to brush his teeth and get ready for bed. We (thought we) were out of pull-ups for Annie, so Alissa’s stop at the store was necessary before Annie would get ready for bed. I started reading to Harry while Annie tried to page ahead to the pictures.
Then she was home. We had made it. Alissa did exactly what I needed. She swooped in. She calmed the kids. She got them to bed. She made everything alright. I slathered Vicks on the soles of my feet and put on a pair of socks and crawled into bed at 9:15. It seems to have worked. What’s up with that?