Initially when I agreed to take on the role of Mr. Mom, I may have been lied to about how much work it is to take care of three young boys and one big house. Either that or I was just nodding my head while thinking about baseball. Tough to say.
The bottom line is, after a few weeks at the helm, the ship is taking on water and starting to drift off course.
“Why are you walking there? I just cleaned that!”
“Why are you eating again? I just fed you, and I just cleaned that.”
“Why are you wearing clothes again? I just washed clothes.”
“You want me to bathe them how often?”
“You want me to make them lunch every day? They just come home expecting more food!”
As I adjust to this wiping/rinsing/preparing/feeding/washing/wiping/rinsing endless circle of crumbs and stains, I am looking for places to trim the fat and lean out the engine, if you will. One area I noticed that was an easy place to gain some efficiency was cups. My wife has a kitchen cupboard filled with nothing but plastic children’s drink cups. Foolishly, it’s a low one, so the kids can get their own cups anytime they want. She probably thought this was saving her time by not having to help them get a drink. Boy was she wrong!
The first thing I noticed about my dishwasher loads was the entire top rack was nothing but plastic cups. I did some quick math and realized that each boy was probably using anywhere from 4 to 2000 cups per day, depending on how hot it was outside. To make matters even worse, plastic cups have that annoying habit of never fully drying in the dishwasher, storing little pools of water on their inverted bottoms, and raining it down all over the perfectly dry dishes below if you so much as look at the top rack wrong when you open the door. Why am I having to hand-dry all the dishes after they went through the automatic dry cycle? This is madness. This must end.
Easy solution. Each kid gets one cup with their name on it, and if they want a drink, they need to use their own personal cup. That should put an end to the former practice of filling a new cup with water, taking a sip, then throwing the cup over their shoulder and running away. At least, I assume that’s what they were doing based on the cup usage statistics and the water all over the floor near the refrigerator.
My wife and mother-in-law recently bought me a hard-plastic, insulated “red Solo cup” as a gag gift. It looks just like the famous white-on-the-inside, beer-from-the-tap-at-a-keg-party, 16-ounce red Solo cup, but it is super-sturdy and infinitely reusable. They found it at a big beverage store and thought it was funny, but I loved it. It’s a great cup. It’s insulated so it doesn’t sweat as much as a glass, and when I drink out of it, I feel like I’m at a party, so it puts me in a good mood. I instantly adopted it as my regular daily ice water cup.
When I made the decision to go to a one-cup-only system with the boys, the sturdy red Solo cup was a no-brainer. I immediately bought three more of them, and wrote their names in black Sharpie marker on the sides. I even wrote “Daddy” on mine to avoid ending up with warm milk in it and half-dissolved granola bar chunks stuck to the rim.
The boys adopted the new plan with ease, and even sing Toby Keith’s “Red Solo Cup” song occasionally. When they talk about them, they say, “redsolocup” as one word. Kids are cute. I could see nothing wrong with my new plan… until the other morning.
Grandpa and Grandma were visiting, and Grandpa’s evening drink is bourbon. When I came downstairs in the morning, sitting on the counter next to the refrigerator were four red Solo cups with names written on them in Sharpie, the remains of a 1.75-liter bottle of Jim Beam, a teddy bear, and an empty bag of tortilla chips.
As I was pondering the scene, in stumbles a sleepy-eyed seven-year-old kid in boxer shorts, munching on a tortilla chip, scratching himself, and singing, “Red Solo cup, I fill you up, let’s have a party, let’s have a party…”
I have what appears to be the aftermath of an elementary school frat party in my kitchen. That can’t be good.
As long as we can keep the Child Protective Services Department out of here, we should be OK. One thing is for sure, though; with Mr. Mom at the helm, my boys are going to have no trouble adjusting to life at college.
See you soon,
Copyright © 2013 Marc Schmatjen
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