Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Read the Writing on the Wall

Monday was a rather deadbeat dad day for me. For no good reason, I was in a sour mood. The house was a mess: Halloween hadn’t yet been put away (and yes, I know what the date is). The yard hadn’t been mowed in weeks: I’ve got more dandelions growing than grass. I was frustrated, irritated and overwhelmed with everything that needs to get done around here in order to have a relaxed Christmas, Matthew's birthday and an easy new year. Kara’s knee isn’t getting any better and I not only had to play housemaid all day to a pack of howler monkeys but I had to cater to Kara’s whims all evening and then (yes, and then!)… then I had to work, as I do still have what some would call a full-time job. So, by the end of the day, I was nearing the point of jumping out the window. I had spent most of the day telling the kids to stop whatever it is they were doing, and I don’t know how many times I had to find, collect and put way a couple hundred crayons. I swore that if I had to do it again, I would chuck the whole thing into the trash.

When Kara came home from work, she was in an especially large amount of pain. Her knee had felt a little better so she decided not to use the crutches, which turned out to be a mistake. So she found a spot on the couch, packed on the ice and ride it out. Meanwhile, the patients took over the asylum, running rampant.

I left. There was a couple of things I wanted to do, and I just wanted to get out into the big bright world to help me remember what adults look like and the things that they say. Juice and toys and diapers and spills and bickering and crying and complaining and the constant running—oh the running—takes its toll on a guy. I went to Home Depot. I walked the aisles. I didn’t buy anything. I didn’t have to and I didn’t want to. I didn’t need to. Just seeing things that weren’t made of brightly colored plastic or covered in ketchup or Jell-O was medicine enough.

At least until I got home that is. Most of what I had cleaned or organized throughout the day had been undone, and in some places it looked as though I had never touched it. Crayons out. Blocks scattered. Toys asunder.

But that wasn’t the bad part. I went upstairs to see what sort of mess I would encounter up there, because that was where the tornadoes were.

When I came out from my office and into the bonus room (aka playroom), Matthew was drawing on the walls with a crayon. I barked. He whipped around and dropped the crayon like it was a piece of molten lava with a look on his face that switched from “crap, I’m busted” to “I didn’t do it.” It took a second for me to internalize my shock and surprise, but I eventually lost it. Matthew scampered away in search of an alibi, while I stormed downstairs for the cleaner, kicking a box of toys across the room that happened to be in the way.

I dragged Matthew over to the wall and made him clean it. Of course, he wasn’t very good at it and only slopped the towel at the wall a few times before declaring that he was done, looking for an escape. The crayon came off and through the steam from my ears and the red in my eyes, I have to admit, he drew very nice circles: round, evenly spaced and closed. I retreated to my office, closed the door, turned on the radio and sat down for some peaceful work, and I figured if the house burned down around me, at least it would get rid of all the clutter.

In an unrelated story:
One of my favorite scenes in the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life” is when Jimmy Stewart’s character, George Bailey, meets his guardian angel, Clarence. I happened to be in the AAA offices updating my insurance for the trailer, and when we were finished with business, the agent asked me if I was all up to date on my life insurance and if I needed any more. Despite that being an ominously pointed question (is there an anvil hanging over the door on the way out?), I responded, “No thanks. I’ve got plenty of life insurance,” to which I added with a wry smile, “I’m worth more dead than alive.”

The truth is uncomfortable sometimes, but funny all the same.


Ryan or Kara said...

Matthew apologized with an, "I am sorry, Dadddy." And he was happy to help clean it up to his standards - on quick wipe.


Tris Mast said...

You got off easy. When my son was little his canvas was the back of the sofa and his medium of choice was a bold Sharpie. So for the past seven years the sofa has been backed up to the wall.


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