Child Rearin' no image

Published on June 14th, 2014 | by Richard Black


Father’s Day, Tea Parties, Cleaning House and the Soon-to-be Sentient Species of Bacteria in My Toilet

A few days ago my wife asked what I wanted to do for the upcoming Father’s day weekend and I was stymied. In all honesty I’m not certain what I would do when given a day in which I could do just about anything (and keeping in line with social mores and legalities as they stand in this day and age of course).

I’m sad to say that my first reaction was to consider all of the shit that needs to be done around the house.  As I’m writing our place does not quite look like a home in the process of foreclosure but it’s only a hop, skip and a jump until someone calls DCS and a  group of vagrants to move in.

There really is a lot to do.

It’s been a while since I’ve cleaned the bathroom. The orange colored colony of bacteria that’s been hanging around the edges of the bowl for a few weeks will most likely become sentient unless I give the entire fixture a hefty dose of bleach. The alternative is to move but that seems to be a bit drastic.  Instead I might just send them a message to welcome them to the home and notifying them of their share in the rent.

It’s almost in the middle of June and I haven’t cleaned off the patio furniture I didn’t move into the basement last fall (so I wouldn’t have to clean it off). I’ve got a 400 square foot vegetable garden full of things I’ve no intention of eating but still require attention not to mention the half acre or so of plant beds that need to be weeded, fertilized and deadheaded before they inevitably turn a sickly shade of yellow and die.

I won’t even get into the pile of mulch I need to move that would make Hercules gibber and run to clean out the Aegean stables, the book I’ve been writing for the past ten years, or the overwhelming specter of finding gainful employment once Darcy is in school full time but there it is.

After a number of beers and once I settled down I gave my wife’s question some thought and was again, somewhat saddened at the answer. I really want to be left alone. Darcy has been out of preschool this week and I think we’ve both realized that there is a lot of truth to the phrase that absence makes the heart grow fonder.

The flip side of that well weathered adage is that familiarity breeds contempt or, at the very least, drives one batshit nuts when a soon to be four year old is concerned.

I’m an introvert for the most part and my daughter is not, neither is her mother I should add. Whereas I view most people I might meet in public as potential felons, date rapists or Seventh Day Adventists my wife has never, ever, met anyone she couldn’t talk to for a good five and a half hours at any given moment and usually when my IBS is acting up.

Darcy takes after Laura, my wife, in this respect which is all fine and lovely until she has no one else to talk to. The long and the short of the matter is that I’ve been spending the bulk of the week at tea parties, mermaid parties, parties with fairies (the imaginary kind and not the hurtful slang the term has come to be used regarding male homosexuals) and really just any sort of pretend party with my daughter.

I’m apparently awful at imaginary play and according to Darcy and always “doing it wrong”.   It would be chauvinistic of me to mention that this is an attitude I’ve now come to believe is inherent in the fairer sex but It’s not one with which I’m unfamiliar.  I’ve been doing things wrong from my mother’s perspective for years and my wife’s as well, although for two completely different and in wholly separate reasons.

During tea time with Dora or Hans or really whomever I’m always breaking etiquette and when I attempt to defend the reason why I thought Ariel the mermaid wanted more tea to stay hydrated I’m asked, inevitably, the question “why?”

Darcy’s big on “why?” these days as she should be and I suppose I should be more patient about the question but I really can’t get more than five layers into it all before I lose my shit. Here’s and example of the sort of thing I get to deal with every fifteen minutes or so.

“Daddy what are you doing?” my daughter asks and begins the barrage.

“I’m cooking dinner sweet pea.”

“Why are you cooking dinner Daddy?”

“Because your mother will fire me if I don’t have a hot meal on the table.”

“But why?”

“Daddy has a limited set of skills and a poor work history. Momma also makes a lot more money that Daddy ever did which is why we are stuck with each other.”

“You and Momma?”

“Probably but I was thinking more about the two of us.”

“But why daddy?”

“Because communism didn’t work out in the 1980’s and someone needs to work to pay the bills.”

“I miss Momma,”

“So do I sweet pea, so do I.”

After ten hours of banter with my daughter about the collapse of the Soviet union, doing dishes, cleaning house and questioning why I blew a shit ton of money on a college education to raise a child I’m pretty much shot at the end of the day.

Still I feel selfish asking for a 12 hour period of time to be left to myself and instead of having a few beers and catching up on the latest editorials that Hustler has to offer I’ve invited a few friends over for a BBQ.

Don’t get me wrong I love these guys and there’s nothing like smoking a pork shoulder over seven hours and a few beers with some good friends. Unfortunately, we’ve decided that our children should be involved which brings a whole other level of planning to the project and one, I should add, I did not intend.

Instead of hanging out on the back patio for the afternoon while the brisket gets done I now need to worry about the house, the aforementioned toilet included. Now the floors need to be swept and vacuumed, the petri dish that is my kitchen sink should be thoroughly disinfected, knick knacks need to be dusted and there’s the bathroom to worry about.

I’ve brought it on myself. I usually do. The fact is that I don’t have many people in my life for whom I’d put forth this sort of effort and nor do I have much of an opportunity to hang out with my friends. Sure it’ll cost a few hundred bucks in food and booze, not to mention the time spent cleaning up before and after the get together, but I feel fairly confident that most of them will pro rate the cost for the monthly amount I usually spend to keep them around.


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