Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mom's Night Out

So my wife went out with a friend to dinner and the OSU basketball game tonight. So, in other words, the most frightening thing that all Dads across the world fear: Mom’s night out! Its not that we are jealous she is out having fun but it’s that we are left with the offspring all alone like a lone soldier dropped too far into enemy territory with no immediate evac....and its getting dark. I do believe children conspire against their parents but it’s on an invisible level that parents are unable to see except for the results of their secret meetings. Like, how they can all be as pleasant as can be one minute and the next they are all crying for different reasons like they had their watches synchronized for zero hour and then “let loose hell,” just to see how the parents will react and then to use this to inflict guilt on the parents. I am still unaware of the goal but I am pretty sure it has something to do with ice cream and/or Toys R Us. I come to believe the latter because there is not a parent out there who has not fallen prey to the “I want it now” or “I don’t want to leave” temper tantrum at said store, by one or all your children at the same time. If they are advanced, they will have scheduled “break down” times so they are not all screaming at the same time but successively to make sure they ride your last nerve like a bull at a rodeo.

Mom’s night out is a perfect example of this conspiracy theory. But the ultimate goal is by the end of the night for Mom to see Dad as an incompetent, inept parent who even though he only watches the children alone every once in a while can’t handle it and at the same time make Dad think brain surgery would have been easier. During mom’s night out the children treat Dad like a substitute teacher. "Lets see what we can get away with before he breaks. Because he will break. Oh yes, he will break."

This is how my night went. Before my wife even left the baby started crying. I have talked about “zero hour” before but here's a reminder. Every day kids have a time when all rationality and sanity go out the window that lasts until bedtime. For us its 5:00 p.m. But luckily for me tonight Nate started at 4:30. He screamed and he cried and he screamed and walked around and cried. Non-stop. I fed him in his highchair for 10 minutes but he kept crying between bites and throwing food on the floor. The other 2 were fine. (It was Nate’s shift). Unfortunately but expectantly dinner went longer than thought due a cooking error on my wife's part. Yes, Lindsey told me what to do but she didn’t say remove the foil so it wasn’t cooked correctly and had to bake longer. If only she was more specific, so yes her fault. Well if it pertains to food, cue Drew. (Drew's shift begins) He is at my heels asking for dinner. Then to the refrigerator, to the freezer, then to the pantry, back to me, to the oven, to me, back to the fridge, now me, to the table, to the pantry, I'm on a horse. All the while I am telling him to “wait for dinner” at every appliance. (Nate is still crying). So finally dinner comes out. I put Nate on the floor because he ate what he was going to, including tears and snot, and I dish out Taco pie. I put the plates and cups on the table, call for dinner, and then their secret watches all start beeping for “go time.” Here are their assignments at this precise moment: Nate – go to the art drawer and pull everything out including the crayon box and dump it all on the floor; Zachary – go to the dinner table and begin complaining about the food and how you are not going to eat it and you want something else. Do not stop complaining whatever you do, keep a whiney noise going constantly. This will provide the auditory distraction and Nate will cause the physical distraction while Dad cleans up the mess to set up the climax. Drew – While he is distracted by Nate and Zachary and not looking at you, spill your drink all over the dining room table and for good measure his chair where he will sit for dinner, soaking the table centerpieces, his chair, and carpet. If all goes to plan, He should lose it in 2.3 seconds. Which I did. Tossing down the art supplies, telling Zachary he can go to bed hungry for all I care and sitting down in the water soaked chair, I begrudgingly ate my dinner wishing mom was home and I was not.

I held it together long enough to get through bath and bedtime, but at this point it was just a race to the finish line. (Finish line in parent speak means “all children in bed asleep and you on your way for wine and/or chocolate.) During bedtime though, they had one more surprise planned. I began reading to Drew which cued him to get up and run out of the room while I am yelling after him “if you don’t stay I am done reading this…” Out he went. I go grab him and put him back into bed tucking him in and leaving when I hear 2 children crying. I understood Drew who wanted his story to be read but out in the hallway, Zachary was crying too. He was crying because his hands itched. They had had to have synchronized watches for this impeccable timing. Like every good Dad, I told Zachary to wash his hands, the equivalent of “walk it off” and read Drew the “abbreviated” version of his story (abbreviated in parent speak means “skip as many pages on the page turn before they notice.)

Next comes the humiliating part that is the night's goal for the children yet Dads still fall prey to it: I call my wife to tell her how horrible the night was. Now depending on your wife she will give you 2 different reactions: empathy or laughing. Let me tell you, you want laughing. Because depending when you call, laughing can either make your pain worse if called right after the “break down” because she is making light of your situation or if called later when they are asleep, make it better because she is making light of your situation. Then you can both laugh at the ridiculousness of it all and chalk it off to the “joys of parenting.” I wanted this reaction, I got the empathy reaction. I will tell you why you don’t want the empathy reaction. Because it may sound like empathy on the outside “that sounds awful, you poor dear, are you ok? Do you need anything?) but on the inside she is saying, “I do this everyday for 10-12 hours a day 5-6 days a week by my self and even on the weekends we have church or get a babysitter so that time doesn’t count. I leave for one night and you make it seem like the world is coming down. They are just children. It’s not like they are devious super spies conspiring against you with synchronized watches and elaborate plans to make you go nuts. (In a mocking tone) well if it’s too hard for you, why don’t you call your mother to take over because you can’t handle it? Just make sure she changes your diaper after she changes theirs.” You do not want the pity… I mean empathy reaction.

So that was my night. Finally, you know it was a mom’s night out because when Dad is put in charge of pajamas, the baby is wearing a 3T footie outfit and the 2 year old is wearing 12 months pants that look like Capri’s.

Looking forward to tomorrow when I am safe at work,
The Joyful and Tired Dad

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