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Four days with kids turns father’s brains to mush

ANDREW GMEREK
Andrew Gmerek
ALL |

No matter how much my wife Beverly wants me to confess, I’ll never crack. Sure, I’d be the first one to admit that staying home with the kids is the hardest job on the planet, even if it is the most rewarding.But I will never, ever, let on that I had even a lick of trouble during my short stint as a stay-at-home dad. Beverly left me last week for four days to take a much-needed trip out east for a family visit. For the first time since we had kids more than two years ago, I was left alone to tend to our two daughters. Otherwise known as The Pack.No matter how many times Bev asked me if I’d survive my trial by child my answer was the same. No sweat. Why should I worry, I thought. They are my kids, after all, and as far as I know, Bev has raised them to my exacting standards.Right?

The only real way to know this for sure is to install a few of those tiny spy cameras throughout the house and observe what really happens while I’m away. I could see first hand if my kids are cared for in a loving manner or if they are running around the streets of Fairplay as dirty little ragamuffins.But if I installed cameras, then there is the whole trust-in-a-marriage thing to contend with, and I just don’t want to open that can of SpaghettiOs.Since Bev has been at home with the girls since July and nothing sordid has happened, I figured I could survive four short days without help, and so, after much debate, she headed for DIA, and I took a few days off to spend with my darling children.Over the past two years, I think I’ve proven that I’m a decent father and a relatively competent human being. I’m not, by any stretch of the imagination, a distant father who comes home and demands dinner before sitting in his chair to read the paper.I’ve always been the kind of a dad who plays right along with his kids, but I have to admit that after an entire day of playing, bouncing, running, singing and dancing, which seems to never stop at my house, I was whipped.

And by the afternoon of the second day when the kids settled down for their afternoon nap, I was right there with them. I never made it out of the rocking chair sitting in their room. I’m an extremely young and healthy 41-year-old guy, but there were a few times, on about day three, when I was wishing I was in my early 20s. Those kids ran me up one side of the house and down the other without pause or regard for my age, and I’ve now come to realize why Bev sometimes greets me with a drained stare when I come home at night.At one point, I believe it was the morning of day four, I thought about harnessing my girls to a sled and letting them drag me around the neighborhood a couple of times just to drain some of their energy. But I knew, of course, that if I tried it, some snitch of a neighbor would call the establishment types and a visit with a social worker would follow.So, I dealt with their energy the best I could.

I drank plenty of coffee and ate more than my share of candy bars to keep me peppy, and when the four days were finally over and Bev drove into the driveway, I still had enough artificial energy to put on the confident, cocky look that said to her, “No problem.” In the end, it was a marvelous thing to spend uninterrupted time with my girls. And after careful thought, even though they can wear out an adult in half the time it takes an overweight American to order from the drive-through window at McDonald’s, they are both turning out to be terrific kids. All thanks to the efforts of my wife and the time she’s spent with them.Which reminds me, don’t tell my wife that I’m still zoned. My shoulders are strained, my arms hurt, my legs creak, my feet are swollen and even my teeth ache. I definitely need a vacation, so I’m going back to work. Andrew Gmerek writes a Friday column. He can be reached at agmerek@hotmail.com.


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