I’ve heard it said that you can’t catch up on lost sleep, and I’m beginning to think the same is true for being a parent. Like millions of other parents I too have a 9 to 5 Monday through Friday job, so the time I get to spend with Jack and Adam during the week is separated into two periods. 1) The Triaskinforit Period lasts from 7:45am to 8:30am every morning during which essentially the only interaction I have with the boys is watching Adam chew on a trail mix of Lincoln Logs, Hot Wheels and vacuum extension brushes and when Jack walks in the bathroom while I’m showering to tell me he has to go potty. 2) The Juraskinforit Period extends from 6:00pm to 9:00pm every evening during which I try to unsuccessfully pack 10lbs of blissful family togetherness into a 5lb bag, but usually only succeed in collapsing from exhaustion on the kitchen floor. Meanwhile, Adam sits under the dining room table blowing into a kazoo and Jack inches towards the ceiling by wedging himself into the frame of the kitchen door jam.
So, to recap the work week quality time with my offspring: In the morning my youngest son chews on an upright Bissell with a low-carpet setting while the eldest relieves himself during my wash, rinse and repeat cycle. In the evening Kathleen and I sprawl on the kitchen linoleum as Adam hums a vibrating rendition of Camptown Races and Jack dangles from the crown molding like Tom Cruise on a rock face in Mission Impossible 2, minus the extreme Scientology and Katie Holmes brainwashing. Oh, de doo-da day.
Because I have no governor on my paternal engine to regulate the guilt that builds up during the week, when Saturday rolls around I try to expunge my guilt through a form of extreme über parenting (ordinarily seen in cases of divorce or living on Long Island) that involves overindulging even the most miniscule whims of your child(ren). Thankfully, Kathleen works Saturday mornings leaving me free reign to implement my compensatory style of parenting. Unfortunately, Kathleen works Saturday mornings leaving me free reign to implement my compensatory style of parenting.
I’ll offer some examples from last Saturday morning as a microcosm of how I try to offset being away from Jack and Adam during the week with an unhealthy level of Over the Top Child Rearing; which, among other things, entails driving a long haul truck and winning back the heart of my alienated sons by becoming a champion arm wrestler.
I couldn’t just make them breakfast and sit on thecouch watching cartoons all morning. No, we had to go out for breakfast, to a diner, where a cantankerous waitress named Fran would mistake Jack for a girl and Adam could fidget in a wooden high chair made with wood from California’s Petrified Forest and mash packets of saltines into the Formica table with a spoon. And when Jack said he wanted bacon he couldn’t just have a few strips of bacon, he had to have more bacon than even Kyra Sedgwick could handle. Fran … lop a pig in half, drop it in the deep fryer and put it on a plate! My boy wants bacon…and bring a few more crackers over, too. And another silverware roll, thanks. Oh, and a seat cushion for this tree stump you call a high chair.
Once we were back in the car and on the way to the park Jack asked if we could play our Vs. game which is where we pit comic book heroes, villains and movie characters against each other in head-to-head matches then together decide who would win the fight. I said we could, but we couldn’t just play head to head match-ups. No, I had to create a 64 character bracketed double-elimination tournament with a wild card play-in game and a best of 7 Final match-up. (Godzilla won a tight series 4-3 over The Iron Giant)
While at the park Jack wanted to walk over to the pond to feed the ducks. Well, of course we can feed the ducks Jack. However, we couldn’t just leisurely toss them scraps of wonder bread; we had to feed them popcorn. Not just one bag though, we had to buy every bag of Smart Food Reduced Fat White Cheddar Cheese Flavored Popcorn from the vending machines. So much popcorn that the ducks would think they were under Roger Ebert’s chair at a matinee showing of Ratatouille.
Back at the house we were playing in the backyard and I was throwing Adam in the air and catching him, drinking in his laughter while gazing up at the look of wonder on his face. Jack wanted me to throw him up in the air too, so I put Adam back in his stroller and tossed Jack into the air. Not just a couple inches or a foot in the air though, I was literally threw Jack as high as I physically could. So high that during his atmospheric freefall he achieved terminal velocity and executed an 8-way vertical formation with a gaggle of Canadian Geese before pulling the rip cord on his chute.
My concern is that if this trend continues breakfast meat, superhero round robin competitions, gourmet popcorn and formation skydiving with waterfowl will turn into more expensive unnecessary compensations like, for instance, a puppy or college tuition.
Damn… Jack has somehow made his way to the ceiling fan blades. I’d help him, but Adam is beginning Row, Row, Row Your Boat and he wants to do it as a round. Kathleen, where’s my kazoo?