We dads have a different way of doing things. I know this because my kids tell me, “That’s not how mommy does it,” about ten times a day now.
The boys will go back to school at the end of August, which is rapidly approaching. At that point, my wife will begin a new teaching job, and I will be in charge of our sons during the day. With my new role as Mr. Mom looming so closely around the corner, I am attempting to learn the ropes while my predecessor is still available for consultations.
For instance, I have always made pancakes on the weekends, but I have never been in charge of regular healthy weekday breakfasts. (My pancakes are cooked in a sea of butter and involve chocolate chips, whipped cream, and about a gallon of syrup. They are basically little artery-hardening diabetes cakes on a plate. But they’re yummy.)
During the weekdays, their mother who can multi-task, takes breakfast orders from them like a short-order cook. I am a man without the multi-tasking chromosome, so I got into trouble right away when asked to make oatmeal and eggs at the same time. I got the microwave oatmeal recipe from my wife, which could not have been easier. One cup of oats, one cup of milk, one minute in the microwave. Too easy.
“This oatmeal is too runny, dad. This isn’t how mom does it.”
“How could it possibly be different? I could not have messed that up.”
“Mommy uses our plastic bowls. That’s different.”
(I used a ceramic bowl. That probably did make a big difference. I don’t think the plastic bowl sucks up as much of the heat, leaving more heat to cook the oatmeal, making it less runny.)
“Plus, mom lets me put in as much brown sugar as I want.”
“Nice try, punk.”
“My eggs are too runny, and his eggs are too hard. How come you didn’t do it like mom does?”
“I was busy dealing with runny oatmeal. Shut up and eat your eggs.”
“Also, mommy lets us have chocolate milk with whipped cream on the top.”
“Yeah, right. Just eat your imperfect eggs and drink your boring white milk.”
After their very unsatisfying breakfast, I said, “Go get dressed.”
“But there are no clothes out. Mommy puts our clothes out for us.”’
“That’s because mommy knows what shirts and shorts fit you, and where they are kept. I have no idea. You guys know which clothes are yours, and you’re old enough to dress yourselves, so get to it.”
I figured my wife was just coddling them too much by setting out their clothes for them, but I decided that might not be entirely true when I saw what Son Number Two ended up wearing. He had picked out a neon green shirt and paired it with orange shorts and white socks pulled up to his knees with sandals. He looked like a cross between Mr. Furley and the Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
I guess I’ll finally have to learn her closet and drawer system.
Even when I tried to do something as simple as cutting their hair, there was trouble. Cutting our kids’ hair should be foolproof. We go for low to no maintenance when it comes to hair, so my wife uses a number one guard on the clippers and buzz cuts them like shearing a sheep. Somehow, however, I don’t even do that like mommy does.
“This is taking forever. Mommy does it faster. Owwwww! Your way hurts more than mommy’s way.”
“How could I possibly be doing this differently!?!”
So, yesterday when we went to the water park, I may have been a little tired of hearing about “how mommy does it,” because when they started to complain about my sunscreen application methods, I said, “Zip it!”
I thought I was doing a great job with the sunscreen. I even remembered to reapply on all three of them at lunchtime, without being reminded. This morning when they woke up, however, their faces told a different story. Apparently I don’t do it like mommy does, and I really should, since I neglected to get any sunscreen directly under their eyes. All three of them woke up with dark red sunburned semi-circles under their eyes. They looked like they had joined Fight Club in the middle of the night.
Speaking of first aid, the other day Son Number Three got a splinter in his thumb from our gigantic redwood play structure. I took the reins on the splinter removal, which is traditionally mommy’s territory, and dug it out for him with a sewing needle. (He had to show me where the sewing needles were.) He was wailing and crying, and after it was out (I did a great job by the way, just like mommy does it), he said, “This is one of my worst days ever.”
“Dude, this is a splinter. You broke your femur in half on that play structure.”
“I know, that’s why I said it was one of my worst days. This is like my fourth worst day ever.”
At five years old, I think at least three of his four worst days ever involve the play structure in some form or another, and I remember thinking I wouldn’t be surprised if he takes an interest in playing with matches pretty soon and “accidentally” burns that thing to the ground.
Well, we are visiting my wife’s family this week, and her grandpa smokes a pipe. Yesterday, Number Three showed great interest in how his Bic lighter worked. Now, his great grandpa is 95 years old, so back in his day, every five-year-old probably had a gun, a knife, and a pack of matches as standard issue, so he was happy to show the young lad how to operate the lighter, and Number Three was listening very intently.
Sunburns and hopelessly uncoordinated outfits are one thing, but if that play structure “accidentally” burns down on my watch, I don’t think she’s going to forgive me.
I’d better go through his luggage when we leave and make sure he’s not trying to bring a lighter home.
See you soon,
Copyright © 2013 Marc Schmatjen
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