Jan 28 2009

Say Please To Cheese And Tickle A Pickle!

Published by under Fun

We’re only a few days away now from the end of the school holidays. What seemed like a daunting task six weeks ago – keeping three highly energetic children fed, happy and entertained for a month and a half – is coming so quickly to an end, that I can only describe what I am currently feeling as a mixture of tremendous “grief” with a deep sense of gratitude.

I grieve the fact that I will never see my kids again as I have seen them all this summer. In a few months Filosofo will turn 10, Exacto 7 and Destructo 5. All three will be at school full-time soon and my time with them will be just a distant, happy memory in the years to come.

It’s the little things they say and do now that I will grieve the most when they move on to the next phase of growth and development. Destructo’s favorite color will soon no longer be “lello” but yellow, and he will stop referring to the little dots on his chest as his “nibbles”.

Exacto has the brilliant mind of an engineer. I am afraid that the more he unravels the way the universe works, the more he will see that the fantastic ideas and inventions I share with him are quite unrealizable. Like the button on the dashboard of my car that allows us to fly over other cars and avoid getting stuck in traffic jams. He no longer buys my look of surprise when I press the button and, instead of the car flying like a rocket through the air, the radio starts playing instead, and I then have to feign mock anger and start cursing the auto technician who forgot to install the “flying rocket” button. Nor does he believe anymore that I can get R2D2 from Star Wars to say hello whenever we exit the motorway and the electronic tag on the car beeps to confirm that I have paid the toll. Soon he will give me the same look of disdain that I get from his older brother. I just hope he never stops saying “Thank you Daddy … I love you!” whenever I give him something simple that he wants, like a glass of milk, or a chocolate cookie.

I also grieve deeply for Filosofo. Soon, in the blink of an eye, he will morph into a teenager and I have no idea what will happen then. I know that I will probably beat myself up for having been so preoccupied with my own thoughts about finances, business and other matters that seem so important to me now, that I frequently cut him short when he tries to tell me (without taking a breath between sentences) how the entire universe of computer games like “Civilization” or “The Age Of Mythology” is structured and how all the various characters are interrelated, what powers they do or do not have and so on. I dread to think that someday I might have to prompt him to talk to me only to discover that he is too preoccupied with his own thoughts to engage in a conversation with his Dad.

Right now, however, I feel truly, deeply grateful that I am the guy who looks after my kids and the one who got to be with them all throughout the school holidays. I am grateful that I stuck to my decision at the end of last year that I was not going to prioritize working on my businesses, and that I was going to be available to my children for the entire six week holiday period.

Corporate Babe only got ten days annual leave before she had to be back at work, so during her time off, we took the kids to the beach, where they swam and played in the waves and in the sand until sunset. After my wife returned to work, I set up an above ground portable swimming pool in our backyard for them to splash around in, took them to parks, organized play dates with many of their friends and, during the days we just lazed around at home, sat down to watch movies or play Wii games with them.

I spent the holidays with my kids. This makes me feel like a very lucky and privileged man. Some of the moms I met up with during the holidays told me they really wished their husbands could have taken more time off work to do what I was doing and I wish they could have too. Being with my boys this summer was a precious gift and made me realize how truly grateful I am for the opportunity I have of being a househusband and a stay-at-home dad. This year I plan to embrace the responsibilities of this role a lot more fully than I have ever done.

In a few days, my kids will go back to school and my special time with them will be mostly confined to car trips to and from school, a couple of hours in the afternoon and early evening, and weekends. This will be great too, as I am also looking forward to achieving some of my long-term business goals this year, and will have a few uninterrupted hours each day in which to do my work.

The car trips to and from school, however, are very special for me. I discovered this last year, when one of the moms at school suggested we try car pooling our kids. She offered to pick up my three boys and drive them to school in the morning, and I reciprocated by picking up her three boys and driving them home in the afternoon.

Although this seemed like a good idea and an efficient way of doing things for us parents at the time, the kids didn’t seem too happy about it. They probably felt like they were just being “bussed” around. After a week or so, my kids turned to me and asked if we were going to be doing this forever. When I asked them what was wrong, they told me that they really missed just being with me in the car. They missed me telling them jokes and stories that made them laugh, and singing them silly made-up songs, like “Say Please To Cheese And Tickle A Pickle”.

After they told me this, I immediately canceled the car pooling arrangement with the other mom. I am happy now to just be the singing fool who takes his kids to school and back.

Tomorrow, Corporate Babe and I celebrate being married for 16 years and my kids are really excited about it. Filosofo has been insisting for the past week that we go to The Cheesecake Shop and pick up a Chocolate Jamaican Cheesecake. When I asked him why this was so important given the fact that he doesn’t like cake, he said he was planning a surprise cake for our wedding anniversary 🙂

Anyway, Corporate Babe and I plan to celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary by taking the kids to our favorite local chinese restaurant for dinner, then maybe spending a little quiet time together after we come home and put the children to bed.

Say please to cheese(cake), eat oodles of noodles, and tickle a pickle!

The Lazy HouseHusband

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Apr 17 2008

Walking With Househusbands

Corporate Babe flew out of the country yesterday on a 2 week business trip. I’ve been left with the kids, who are all currently sick with the flu and on school holidays.

This is going to be my first real test as a bona fide househusband. It’s kind of like the “Survivor” series, but instead of being dropped off in an inhospitable island with a bunch of other people whose strength and talents match and complement mine, I am stuck in the middle of suburbia with three little pygmies who can easily outwit and outlast me in every conceivable way.

At the beginning of their school holidays, I laid down a firm rule – over the next two weeks while Mom is away, my kids can only request a total of three meals each at McDonald’s. Today is Day 2 of the holidays and we’ve already driven past the McDonald’s drive-thru window twice for lunch, so they only have one more Happy Meal request left.

After driving Corporate Babe to the airport yesterday, I decided we were all entitled to having the rest of the day off. On the way back home, I stopped off at the local video store and we stacked up on DVDs. After picking up our second lot of Happy Meals this week (Exacto wanted “the usual” meal and so did Destructo, even though he’s never ordered chicken nuggets before — always a hamburger with extra pickles!), we drove home and just tuned out.

We don’t have a television, only computers with built-in DVD players. The kids watched their movies on the computer in Corporate Babe’s office and I watched my selection of movies on my laptop in my office. We did manage to sneak in a little walk round the block together just before it got too dark, then sat around the dinner table waiting for the frozen pizza to cook in the oven.

After getting the kids to bed early, I then sat down at the computer, dids a little work and watched a couple more movies until 3:00 am, before going to bed. During this time, Filosofo woke up a couple of times saying he wasn’t feeling well before vomiting pizza all over the bathroom.

Today things went a little better. The kids got up early and went off to Corporate Babe’s office to watch some movies, which allowed me to sleep in until almost 9:00 am. After breakfast, we all got dressed and went off to the Shopping Mall.

We are all big fans of the “Walking With Dinosaurs” series, and I had promised the kids – Filosofo especially – that we would watch “Walking With Cavemen” during the holidays. Since none of our video rental stores had a copy available for hire, I thought we’d find it at the mall. They didn’t have “Walking With Cavemen” available at the store either, but one of the kids did spot a copy of “Walking with Monsters” (about life on Earth before the dinosaurs came along) on the shelf, so I bought that one instead.

Walking out of the store with my kids running in all different directions, I started imagining a “Walking With Children” series. I imagine this could eventually be expanded into “Walking With Blisters” and “Walking With Difficulty” also, since this is really what parents have evolved into in this modern age.

Anyway, it’s almost 7:00 pm now and I’ve got the kids in a bath before I get some dinner happening. With twelve days to go still before Corporate Babe comes home and only one McDonald’s visit left, I’m hoping no one in the audience is going to vote me off the show and send me home early.

They can’t, I just remembered, because I’m already home!

The Lazy Househusband

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