Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Low Bar

This weekend began the festival season for Gina, so while she got home late at night, she was gone just as early the following day.  It was a good trial run for Lorelei, this being her first festival season stuck at home with me and the big three.  Nothing of consequence happened in Gina's absence, so I don't have any great stories to tell.  This is more of an OpEd piece today.

On Saturday we attended a birthday party for some friends and as I walked in the door I heard the familiar "father of the year right there" comment.  Now, they're newer friends of ours, so this is really the first time they've seen me go solo for a weekend with the four tote heads in tow; but I think that makes it even more disheartening.  Every time Gina's gone and I'm alone with the kids, someone thinks that's amazing, or odd. ... or just wrong.  I mean, how can a father possibly take care of four children under 7 for a whole weekend?  That's just cray-cray!  You'd have to be a parent or something to survive that!!!

Why is the expectation so low for dads?  Why is it that something my wife does every single day blows the minds of others when I do it for single weekend?  Add in that my wife has to juggle school and shopping and gymnastics and soccer and play dates and PTA meetings, doctors visits and yoga classes and dentist trips.  I slept in (relative to my normal 4:30 wake up), turned on a tv, scrambled some eggs and left for a 12:30 party with 4 very mismatch dressed kids in pretty crappily done pony tails. I didn't even wrap the present - Gina did that earlier in the week.  Father of the year?!!  That's just sad that these efforts would even qualify me for a nomination! 

But it's this dual expectation that we set in parenting.  We're amazed if a father shows up to the recital (oh what a doting dad with his camera); and then we're expecting that the mother to show up to rehearsals, make the stupid outfit, practice with the kid at home and still find time to change out of her yoga pants for the performance. How is that fair?  How is that balanced parenting? 

Obviously with the stay at home mom angle there is a little more expectation.  I work all week so my wife can have more time to manage some of the day to day efforts that keep our family running.  But when I'm not working, does that suddenly mean expectations for her cease too?  I'm a dad.  I should not be congratulated and praised for doing my job.  But that's how it seems to be looked at by the masses.  I've said it before, but I think we need higher expectations.  Partners are partners.  I don't think dads should be considered minority shareholders anymore.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Dangers of Second Hand Whale

Subtitled: My Daughters Toys May Be A Bad Influence.
Sub-subtitled: My Children's Plush Pushers.

We have four children, that you know already.  But when you have a four children, you also lose a little bit of your sense of pride.  Suddenly, you're willing to take anything anyone is willing to give, loan or throw away.  You want some old clothes?  Yes please!  You want a kids drawing table missing one leg? Why thank you very much.  Did you catch that sofa on the side of the intersate?  Sure did, honey - I'll take a U at the next light!

Fortunately, people seem to love us (and by us, I mean my children. ... as for me, I'm tolerated), so there is no shortage of hand-me-downs clothes and second generation toys to enjoy.  One of the people that I know (kept non-descript for obvious reasons) has been kind enough to share with us things their 13-year-old granddaughter no longer has interest in.  To date it's been mostly clothes and accessories, but this last week was a sack full of old stuffed animals. 

The girls were over the moon, so this weekend we dumped the contents out and held a draft, where each of them took turns picking from the lot until they were all gone.  One of the ones that Genevieve was particularly excited about was a medium sized Orca whale.  Your opinions on Blackfish aside, there's not much cuter then a smiling killer whale stuffed animal.  Her only concern was a small tear in the mouth, but Gina was quick to tell her that the next available appointment for surgery in the laundry room would fix her new aquatic friend right up.

However, last night as I was tucking them in, there was more to be concerned about.

"Daddy," she said.  "I think this whale is supposed to talk."

I advised her that was unlikely, but she was adamant.

"There's a battery pack inside his mouth," she persisted.

I took the doll and sure enough, when I squeezed it I could feel a hard, rectangle like shape just under the eyes.  To her horror I jammed my fingers down the rip in it's mouth and fished around until I could feel the hard plastic piece.  Even before I pulled it all the way out, I could feel the metal gear, the press lever.  And as it came out I was holding a fairly new Bic lighter in my hand.  Turns out we found out where the previous teenage owner was keeping a portion of her stash.  Needless to say, after the girls went to sleep, I went back through and did a pat down on all of their "new" toys to make sure what ever the lighter was intended for was not hiding elsewhere in my childrens' rooms. 

It was not.  Sadly.

So now comes the uncomfortable conversation with the gift giver.

"So. .... your granddaughter. .... she might want to buy a Zippo next time."