Two hungry children, and a crop in the fields…
OK, her name isn’t Lucille, and our tomato plant hardly qualifies as a crop, but the sentiment is the same. Mrs. 20 Prospect is gone this week on a trip with her Mom, taking a much needed break from the kids. So that means for the next week I am a single parent. It’s been a long time since I was alone with the kids for more than 24 hours. In fact, the last time it happened I think they were still in diapers. So this will be an interesting education in all the things she does that I am blissful unaware of. Not because she doesn’t tell me about them. Just because like all men I am only half listening. To make things even worse, Mrs. 20 Prospect is a highly organized, pragmatic, worker bee. I on the other hand, am a day dreamer.
Typical conversation around 20 Prospect…
Me: (Walking into the house) Hi honey, how was your day? (Kisses wife, looks at Kitchen counter and thinks, “Oh, look the new REI catalog arrived in the mail”)
Her: Sighs… the dog chewed up one of 20P Jr.’s new sneakers, and the computer locked up on me when I was trying to pay the bills online. You’re going to have to look at it for me.
Me: (Opening cupboard, taking out box of Wheat Thins and stuffing a handful in my mouth) OK, I’ll look at it right after dinner.
Her: Don’t forget, tonight is Lil’ Miss 20P’s swimming practice.
Me: Oh right, what time is that again? (Hmm… something is cooking in the oven, I wonder what we are having for dinner. Opens oven to look)
(Dogs come screaming through the kitchen chasing each other, wife walks over and let’s them out the back door)
Her: Six O’clock, that’s why we are eating early. Remember I have a Girl Scout leader’s meeting at seven so you’re going to need to take her.
Me: No, I haven’t forgotten. (Sh!t, I’m going to miss the Twins game, I wonder if my iPod picks up AM radio?)
Her: How was work?
Me: Huh? Um… (mumbles something inaudible, followed by “you know, the usual”)
Her: Did you find out about what days you’ll be in Asia next month?
Me: Umm… not yet. (Sh!t. Note to self, send email to Asia to find out when I’m supposed to go)
Her: (Frustrated voice) I have to sign up for my shifts tonight, so I really need to know when you’re going to be out of town.
Me: Yeah, I’m sorry (flipping through REI catalog, thinking: “Oh cool, 50% off of cycling gear!”) I’ll send them an email tonight.
Her: The computer’s broken remember?
Me: Umm… yeah, I was going to take a look at it right after dinner…
Her: You’re taking Lil’ Miss 20P to swim practice remember?
Me: Uh… yeah, yeah I knew that. I meant right after I get back.
Her: I leave for work at 9pm, when are you going to have time to do that?
Me: (Turns page in REI catalog) Hey, look at this jacket. I was thinking 20P Jr. might like it, because it matches his new sneakers
Her: I told you the dog ate his sneakers!
Me: (Looks around for dogs) Goddammit, we just bought those sneakers!
And so on…
OK, I’m exaggerating a little. REI never has a 50% off sale on anything.
In all of my years at 20 Prospect, I can only remember 2 times when Mom was gone for more than a night. Once when she had surgery and spent a a few days in Genesee Memorial Hospital, and another time when her job with Honeywell required her to fly out to Minneapolis for some training. Dad never traveled either, except when there was a hurricane that hit the East Coast, and he got called up to go down with a NiMo crew to help restore power. Whenever Dad left life continued as usual, but when Mom was gone things were just different.
The original Mr. 20 Prospect was a terrific cook. He knew recipes by heart, and could whip up some terrific dinners on Sunday’s and Saturday’s. But for some reason for the duration of Mom’s trips he never put this skill to use. When she was in the hospital we ate Sahlen’s Hot Dogs until the mere smell of them made me want to vomit. When she was on her business trip he made Taco’s. Every night. For a week. Did I mention we aren’t Hispanic?
Why he didn’t cook on weeknights I will never really understand. By that point in life my siblings had moved out and it was just the two of us, so perhaps it was a reluctance to cook for just two. It couldn’t have been a timing thing as he was home from work shortly after 4 o’clock regardless of the season. Whatever his reasoning was, I think he cured me of any desire for Taco’s for the rest of my life. To this day I love Mexican food, but cannot bring myself to enjoy a Taco no matter how hard I try.
So, for the next 5 days I am going to be doing it all. Making lunches, hounding them into the shower, doing laundry, cooking meals, working my day job, walking the dogs, coaching soccer practice, blawging, etc… This will qualify me for some sort of parenting medal I’m sure, “Father of the Year”, or something like that. Honestly, she is just so lucky to have me. I hope she doesn’t miss us too much. I’ll feel bad if she spends the whole week worrying about us.
In the mean time, I need to get on Google Maps and find out where the kids school is at so I can drive them there. I think it’s named after a Saint or something. Then after school it’s a quick dinner before we head off to practice. I wonder if we have any Taco seasoning in the cupboard?