My wife Katie was in Minneapolis last weekend for a wedding. Me? I was at home. Watching two young boys. Samson is five. Solomon four. What’s it like mediating their nearly constant state of conflict? Probably similar to participating in a session of British parliament these days.
How’s that for a Brexit joke? Talk about Anglo.
Anyway, one weekend with two boys. Doing what Katie does nearly every day of her life. Am I a saint? Perhaps. Sanctify me if you must.
Was I exhausted? You betcha Minnesota ass I was. Two days of single parenthood did me in. I’m in my late thirties. I’m no match for Samson’s constant state of exuberance.
“You want to play cars with me, Dad?”
For six hours? Okay.
“Hey, Dad,” was a phrase I heard probably 700 times last weekend.
What came next? A variety of statements and questions.
“What are carrots made of?”
“I’m super duper fast.”
“Do you want to see this?”
“Is it time to play screens yet?”
“Do you want to see my purple car?”
“I need to poop.”
And so forth.
And when one boy said “hey, Dad,” the other immediately began vying for my attention by also saying “hey, Dad.” Their intrinsic jealously meant that I was usually responding to two “hey, Dad’s” at once. No way to keep up.
Katie’s a seasoned pro when it comes to engaging these boys. “Hey, Mom?” She’s got if covered. Me? Not so much.
But I did my best.
I tried to keep the boys busy. They “helped me” mow the lawn. We spent an afternoon in the bounce houses at church. Some time at the park. An ice cream stop. A visit to McDonalds. Keep the car moving. When all else fails? Fire up the Nintendo Switch.
“Can you help me beat Bowser, Dad?” Solomon asked.
There’s few things I’m more adept at helping people with. Bowser’s got nothing on this assistant professor of literacy education.
I cooked dinner. Handled bath time. Dressed the boys. Changed pull-ups. Read stories. Played cars with Samson. Played boardgames with Solomon (he’s good at Sorry). Chased my children around the kitchen. Played outside. Played inside. Nothing that I’m listing here sounds all that complicated. Still, I had nothing left after they fell asleep. I collapsed on the couch. I’m not sure why, and it doesn’t make much sense, but watching my two boys all weekend was as exhausting as teaching five sections of thirty ninth-graders for an entire school year.
I understand this blog entry is all sorts of problematic. First, Katie does what I’m whining about here each and every day of her life. And I have to travel for work, so she’s very familiar with being left along to watch the boys. Yes, I’m being facetious about my weekend with the boys. Still, who am I to complain?
There are real single parents out there, like my own father, who raise children on their own. No breaks. And there are plenty of people out there who do this with far less resources than me. I’m well aware of my fortune, my relative privilege. I’m also well aware that I could barely keep my eyes open on Sunday night.
I woke up early and got the boys ready for school on Monday morning. Walked Solomon to the bus stop. Drove Samson to preschool. I watched the clock and counted down the seconds until Katie returned from Minneapolis.
I’ll also admit this. When all was said and done, when all the toys had been put away and all the butts had been wiped, I was happy to have had some time with my children. Laying in bed with them as they fall asleep, helping Solomon beat Bowser, and racing cars with Samson – each of these interactions were intimate in their own way.
I can’t believe Solomon is already five and Samson is already four. I see pictures of them from three or four years ago and I can barely remember what it was like to rock them, to hold them, to change their diapers and snuggle. Childhood ends quickly (unless you’re a member of British parliament).
Hey-o. There’s that Anglo humor again. Straight Saxon, baby.
Anyway, all in all, it was nice to have a little time with my boys this weekend.