Friday, April 04, 2008

Hawaii Not Bound: Day One

Sometimes I don’t get a lot of credit in the daddy department. Kara is off on her Vacation in Paradise on the islands that comprise the 50th State, and for the first time since we’ve been married, she’s the one that has left on a trip. Usually, it is me that has to go somewhere. Years ago it was the occasional business trip that took me away for a few days, but lately it has been camping in the desert or hunting up north (as it will be this October). All the while, Kara has stayed home with “her babies.” Sure, she’s earned it, but her anxiety about going away was palpable this last week, and I’m not sure how many times she attempted to get me to sign a contract that says I won’t let harm come to the kids while she was gone. So much so that she reminded me not to leave the windows open on the second floor for fear of large hawks swooping in and confusing Matthew with prey.

Of course, I'm full of jokes about it which never sets her at ease, but I can't help it. It's the fool in me, send down a long line of sarcastic one-liners in my family tree. Then again, I knew what I was getting myself into because I passed on the trip to Hawaii. I don't know why, but mostly because Kara needs some time with her friends by herself. I mean, really, who wants their knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing husband around them when they're in arguably one of the most romantically beautiful places in the United States? So, I'm staying home with the kids, playing zookeeper to a bunch of monkeys.

Me? I’m just some dufuss who needs a list of food in the refrigerator that is approved as edible—which is true. I do. She made one for me; it contains all the food in the house that I can make into meals for the kids. Never mind me or what I can eat. I call it epicurean blindness, when you open up the fridge door or pantry and see nothing to eat, as no combination of the various foods therein will provide any sort of sustenance for anybody that won’t get you in trouble with the FDA. Kara, on the other hand, quicker than a flash, can pull out a strange assortment of food from near and far in the chill chest and prove that the sum of a meal’s parts is indeed greater than the whole. Voila, dinner is served. If she hadn’t put some chicken and such in the crock pot before she left, dinner for me would have been Pringles and ice cream—never mind that those two things are now missing from our shelves (I got hungry later). I had some cheese too.

At any rate, near about the 11th time Kara reminded me to keep the front door locked because Matthew can now open it, and that they shouldn’t play outside without shoes on (it’s spider season, you know), and that they should eat food during the day, and that they should dress appropriate for the weather… and that they need to go to bed at a decent hour… near about that time, I had to remind Kara that I take care of these little woodland creatures we call our kids nine to 10 hours a day, all day, every day, and that I’m completely capable of handling most any situation that might come around. Don’t worry. Have fun in Hawaii. Send us a postcard. We’ll be fine.

Funny enough, we were today. Everything went smoothly. I was fearing there would be some crying or some moping around or a little grousing that Mommy was gone and that they missed her. However aside from Natalie mentioning once that she missed Mommy and Matthew calling me Mommy before correcting himself (he does that all the time), nary a word was mentioned. She did call and speak to the kids twice...and that was before her flight left... which I suppose helped assuage that empty chair at the dinner table. And that isn’t said to make Kara feel bad that she isn’t missed. She is, dearly, but it shows that the kids are well adjusted to change and that they understand that Mommy is going on a trip and will be back in a couple of days. Until then, you’ve got dumb-old Dad to make sure that whatever injuries you survive through this weekend will heal before she gets home to see them.

First order of business, of course, was Legos… the most awesomest toy ever invented. Bless the Swedish and their ideas of interlocking plastic love. I’ve had a cowboy-themed Lego set still in its box for about 10 years. In fact, the receipt was still on the box when I pulled it down from the closet shelf this afternoon (I bought it tomorrow on Kara’s birthday, in 1997).

A couple of weeks ago, I deemed that the kids were old enough to appreciate all the wonders that Legos have to offer, so I took down my giant box of Legos that I had collected since my teens (so, I was a nerd…still am when it comes to Legos) to share with the kids. Natalie took to it easily, while Matthew simply liked the build towers, a half-dozen blocks stacked on top of each other. I introduced to them the concept of “The Beauty of Legos” to countermand Natalie’s predisposition to keep everything in its original form. I pictured her building something and then never wanting to tear it apart again, so “The Beauty of Legos” is merely an idea to help her realize it is okay for whatever creation she has put together to be tossed back into the pile at the end of the Lego session to await what wonders we would create the next time. So far, it has worked pretty well, but she has tried hard to preserve a couple of things she has made.

If I had remembered how cool Legos were, I would have never put them in the box high up on a closet shelf to begin with! I could talk about them all night… but I won’t.

Anyways, thinking that Natalie might have a hard time with Kara gone, I decided that I would wait until she left and then open the cowboy-themed box. Natalie was anticipating it all week, and no sooner did Kara’s car leave the driveway was Natalie hopping up and down, “Can we open the cowboy Legos? Can we open the cowboy Legos?”

And so we did. A good time was had by all. Matthew thought sharks (from a pirate set) fit nice and well in the bank. And that’s “The Beauty of Legos,” you can make anything you wish.

Tonight went a lot easier than I had hoped. Dance class, dinner, Legos, bath, snack, part of a movie (Dumbo), and Matthew and I watched some roller coaster videos online (he loves them), read a book and plopped him into his bed. He got up twice, the first time because he wanted to tell me about the scary slide that he went down at a friend’s birthday party nearly a year ago, and the second time because he wanted a glass of water. I told him that he had to stay in his bed after the water otherwise I was going to close the door…it’s the ultimate threat to him right now, that he’d be cut off from the outside world, completely alone in his room with the door shut. That’s usually all it takes, and after that, I assumed since I didn’t hear any other noises coming from upstairs, that he was fast asleep.

Natalie dropped off immediately, as she usually does. I watched a couple of hours of TV downstairs and at 11pm, came up here to take care of some work before bed. I poked my head in to check on Matthew and he wasn’t in his bed. The windows weren’t open so I knew that hawks hadn’t snatched him, but he wasn’t even in his room either. When I checked on Natalie, Matthew was curled up on the floor next to her bed, fast asleep.

What does a good father do? Why take a picture, of course, and then tuck him into his own bed for the night.

I hope they sleep in a little bit tomorrow. I’m sure it’s going to be a long day of, you know... not being in Hawaii.

**By the way, Kara just called. Her flight made it with a few dollars to spare, as the company so far hasn't declared bankruptcy. Of course, the weekend isn't over yet, and I can think of worse places to be stranded.

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