“I’m tired of living under the inadequacies of my peers,” I told WonderWife™ over the phone the first night she was away.
WonderWife™ had been suddenly called out of town for a family emergency, leaving me as temporary stay-at-home-dad for three days. In the brief time between WW™ making her plans and leaving, there was a huge outpouring of support and encouragement for me. A few of WW™’s friends even promised to drop their own families in order to help me if I needed. While everyone meant well, I was annoyed by the implication.
I’m a competent dad. When it comes to taking care of my kids by myself, I got it. Under my watch, my kids always get fed well, get bathed and get to bed on time. But based on everyone’s reaction, you would’ve thought me a total parenting noob. I’m not exactly sure where the perception comes from. Maybe years of watching inept sit-com dads on TV have influenced the collective consciousness. Or perhaps the husbands of WW™’s friends are a bit lacking and it’s being projected onto me? I’m not here to judge. I’m just trying to get to the bottom of why it becomes a much bigger deal than it should that I’m left alone my offspring for a few days.
The reality is, I needed very few instructions. Aside from a list of a few errands and some overly complicated instructions for the preparation of school snack, to work around various allergies of classmates, WW™ didn’t need to school me on anything. Sure I asked for a complete run down of what to pack in the kids’ school lunches, but that’s because they are creatures of habit and I wanted to replicate what they’re used to. Left to my own devices, I’m confident I would have worked it out myself.
The only thing I could have used a little help with was preschool pick up. My fatal flaw was relying on Sprout to guide me. I figured since she’d accompanied WonderWife™ to every single pick up she’d know a thing or two. However, the little monkey led me to the wrong room. The teacher inside politely guided me to another room, where my presence interrupted the class. The Bean noticed me right away and became unable to pay attention to the most hectic game of Simon Says I’ve ever seen. (Note to self: be extra good to the Bean’s teachers at the end of the year.) Not wanting to disrupt the game, I stood in the corner trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. After a while, I noticed some other parents loitering outside. Then it hit me. Nobody told me this is where we were supposed to wait until the kids are released.
With head hung low, I slunk outside to join the adults. Of course when I looked up whom should I see but the moms who offered to help me. They were wearing sly, sympathetic smiles—images of Michael Keaton in Mr. Mom running through their heads. “You’re doing it wrong.” This was not helping my case for independence.
The women reiterated their offer and I politely thanked them, gathered up the kids and headed home, where later I would cook a full dinner (with veggies…from scratch). I know that their hearts were in the right place, but aside from my ignorance about school pick up policy, when it comes to being a parent, I got this.