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Where I present a night in the life of an ordinary father

by John on October 13th, 2011

It’s no secret that parenthood has mad moments – so here’s a night in the life from last week. Be prepared – this is a parenting adventure, so there may be ample talk of tears and other bodily fluids.

Work, this past week, has been rough – a formerly “well-known” process has, simply fallen apart. Of course, this process falling apart has lead us to have multiple issues with other teams, meaning that everything falls on me to get the process working. Which means redefining the process. Which is no fun. Also, I like writing in sentence fragments.

So, we come to Thursday. Typically Thursdays are long, but ok days for me. I do “my thing” in the morning and leave before anyone is awake. Duffy shows up with the kids & we have lunch, and then, after work, I head out to band practice.

I went about my morning routine, walking the dogs and motivating myself to run when two things happened – the power went out and my daughter woke up. Now, we still don’t know why the power went out1, but all I was thinking was that I wanted a hot shower. This meant that I either got into the shower right then or I skipped my run and went to the gym. I chose to take it easy and hop into the shower.

No sooner had I got into the shower, though, than my daughter worked her way in. See, we try to placate her, when she wakes up early, with TV, because we’re the most awesomest parents in the world, but without power, there is no TV. Explaining that fact to a toddler is, well, pointless.

So, she joined me in the shower because, otherwise, she’d have the ability to wake up her brother, and that’s best avoided.

I showered with Leila, but she got pretty pissed at me when I turned the water off – if Duffy wanted to shower, I wanted her to have some hot water. So she screamed and screamed and screamed. This startled Duffy into action because, well, a kid screaming in the bath might be the start of something more than “just dramatics.”

Anyway, I got myself dressed and out the door, where work beckoned. And it was just as hectic & brutal as it had been . . . but noon came, and with that Duffy and the kids.

When you’re trying to feed two heathens toddlers, a Chinese buffet works. You dictate the size of the portions that they see, so if they’re more in the mood for fruit or rice or noodles or fried deliciousness, you’re not wasting food. We ate – and the place just hired a new sushi chef, and, damn, was he good.

In the middle of lunch, Duffy checked her email and looked up, crestfallen. Instead of band rehearsal, I was coming home right after work so that Duffy could get away for a Mother’s Night Out & go on a ghost tour of Gettysburg. She deserves this . . . I mean, she has to put up with me just about every day – she needs a night to herself every now & then. Well, the person they had hired to give the ghost tour had hurt her back and was, therefore, unable to give the tour.

We ate our lunch – lots of sushi for Duffy & myself, lots of melon for Leila, a few cookies for CJ (again, most awesomest parents ever), and I tried to talk her into a night out with her sister. She just didn’t know, so it sounded like we were going to have the night together. Fortunately, a little while later, after I got back to the office, they found another ghost tour operator, and things were back on.

So, I left the office & got home, changed, and took the kids to the park. If the kids weren’t home when mommy left, that’d be better – and my hope was to tire the kids out so that they would have an easy time and I would drink wine and goof off get some work and writing done.

We walked to the park and did the normal thing2 until I got a phone call from the wife. We had forgotten that they were due for their flu shots . . . so I started to pack up3 and walked back home with the kids in their wagon as they screamed that they just wanted to go down the slide one more time.

I got to the doctor and they got their shots like pros – seriously, there were some signs that they didn’t like getting stuck with needles, but no tears, and we left with lots of smiles.

I got home and Duffy was already gone . . . I started to think about dinner when CJ handed me the DVD of The Empire Strikes Back, so I put it in. The two of them watched the movie for a little while as I heated up some leftover pizza and thought about other plans for Project: Dinner.

Placing the two kids in their seats, I gave them some frozen veggies (they seriously prefer their vegetables frozen – their pediatrician frowns on the practice a little, for fear of a choking hazard, but the peas & carrots that they’re eating are smaller than their windpipes, and if they’re going to choke on something, I’d rather it be something that will thaw) and tried to get them to eat some pizza. Except there was a movie on.

So, being a professional dadTM, I sat on the couch, holding a piece of pizza as the two of them watched their movie, played with their toys, and came by every now & then for a bite.

The dogs hated me for this.

Eventually, someone was smelly as we approached bedtime, so I took her upstairs to put her PJ’s on. CJ, at this time, was still quite into the movie, so I let him stay, watching. This was a mistake. As soon as I got Leila’s diaper off, CJ realized he was alone & the breakdown started. I hurried through the diaper change, grabbed a fresh diaper for the boy & PJ’s for the two of them and rushed back downstairs.

I put an overnight diaper on CJ and then went to put Leila’s PJ’s on when CJ noticed the band-aid from the flu-shot. He pressed it (because, really, there’s a random thing on your leg, what else would you do?) and it hurt. So that mini-breakdown that we had because he thought he was alone (which I’m certain would have been worse if I had actually taken him away from The Empire Strikes Back) was now a full-blown scream-fest. But, well, this is to be expected with a not-quite-two-year-old.

After some soothing and some “pew pew” noises to match a blaster battle on the TV, and maybe a zerbert or two, I managed to get everyone into PJ’s and we finished watching Empire.

By 8pm, signs of “the tired” were evident . . . on me, on the dogs, and especially on the babies. So we went upstairs to the bedroom, armed with sippy cups of milk. Leila was asleep by 8:30, when I turned off the TV and started to get a little more serious about getting CJ to sleep. He must have fallen asleep fairly soon after, because I woke just after 9 with a start, with a baby nestled in each armpit.

I put them in their nursery without waking them, went downstairs to prepare sippy cups on ice for any overnight, and got back upstairs to find a waking girl.

Leila is infuriating when she first wakes up – because she’s pleasant. She just wants to be awake and happy and to explore . . . except it was bedtime, so I brought her over to the bedroom & rocked her as I watched TV (because she’s absolutely powerless against my shoulder, still – and when she first wakes up, she forgets that she’s supposed to fight ever laying against my shoulder if she hopes to keep herself awake). By 10, she was back asleep, but in putting her back in her crib, I woke the boy. So the boy came over & we cuddled & watched baseball.

Then the cough started.

It wasn’t from the boy, but from the girl – I brought her back over and made the biggest mistake of the night. She was somewhere between awake & asleep, and cranky. So, I gave her some milk, because milk always puts her to sleep. And it worked.

Duffy came home at about 11:30 from her ghost tour to find me in bed with both kids . . . and that’s how we went to bed.

Around 2, Leila woke the two of us up by coughing . . . and kept us up for awhile.

At 4, the alarm went off . . . and I reset it . . . I didn’t really want to run (it was cold outside, I just knew it), so I went to lie back down . . . if I didn’t fall asleep shortly, I’d get up and run. If I fell back asleep, well, my body needed it and I’d get up in an hour & just run less.

At 4:15, it happened.

Leila started coughing again. And, because she was exhausted and coughing, she was miserable. Nothing was consoling her . . . she was running a fever because of the flu shot. We decided to give her some children’s Tylenol, in the hopes that it might sooth her. I filled a syringe, but she wouldn’t cooperate, so Duffy held her still while I forced the medicine into her mouth. As soon as I turned my back to them, to wash out the syringe, she puked.

All that was in her stomach was milk, and now it was all over everything.

We cleaned up – Duffy took Leila in the shower. I got all of the chunks I could and threw everything in the washing machine.

Leila passed right back out after the shower, I got another 20 minutes of sleep before the alarm went off & I had to get up. CJ was pleasant.

That next day at work . . . well, I have absolutely no clue what happened. At all. Wait, no – I left early and mowed the lawn. I may have had some wine to drink that night. Just maybe.


1 I had paid the bill, thank you very much. It was weird – it went off, then back on, then off, then back on, and then off for good.
2 First, we play on the swings, and then we try to walk the balance beam, and then there is this little music-area where they have a drum for you to bang on and squeaky-toy-like-horns that squeak if you press them, and then there’s the slide, which they’ll slide down until I make them stop, cementing my position as Meanest Daddy EverTM for forever, or until they get distracted.
3 We would have stayed longer, but there was a weird dude who just arrived – he brought some McDonalds and ate it in a swing, and then proceeded to walk a meandering path around things. I assume he was planning on having his fast-food meal at one of the picnic tables in the “main park” (we were at the “toddler park”) and then walking around the walking path for awhile, but there was a bocce tournament going on with the Special Olympics and a Pee Wee football practice going on, making the “main park” quite crowded. It’s not that I’d ever begrudge anyone their plans, but he looked sullen and was muttering to himself and, well, giving me the heebie-jeebies.

Leila, of course, wanted to go up to him and was blowing him kisses.

From → Bedtime, Family, Parenting

15 Comments
  1. Whew. I’m tired just reading this. I hope everyone is on the mend tomorrow and gets some extra sleep.

    • We had a pretty miserable girl for the weekend, but everything cleared up soon after that. Thanks 🙂

  2. Man, I love sentence fragments! And using prepositions to end sentences.

    And I also prefer choking on things that can thaw. We just have so much in common!

    Except you have all those, you know, kids.

    • I remember watching an “Inside the Actor’s Studio” with Will Smith where he mentioned asking his grandmother “Yo, where you going to be at?” and she responded “at the end of that preposition.”

      These kids are rough – lovely handfuls, but when things aren’t running smoothly. Wow. Rough. But, cute, too, like baby cows.

  3. Oh no. Just- oh no.

    I’m so sorry about the icks and the wakes and the -ahem- fluids.

    I do, however, have mad love for your footnotes! 🙂

  4. Lisa permalink

    What a nice trip back in time. I remember life with small kids and it was hard work. Especially before I met my husband when I was a single parent. FYI- one day, they will put themselves to bed.

    • I, honestly, cannot imagine doing this as a single parent. I just can’t.

      The concept of them, putting themselves to bed, is so fantastical that I don’t let myself think about it too much 🙂

  5. Whoa. You make me tired. And I’m a crazy busy person.

    So cookies for a meal is wrong? Because I find it a win when Ava eats Smores poptarts for breakfast. At least your kids eat vegetables.

    • I’m lucky in the fact that my kids actually like vegetables. I don’t know what I did to start that, but I’m not complaining.

  6. The night would’ve make my “what the frak” post.

    I have been there, my friend. The Cough. The Puke. The Emergency Shower.

    All I can say is, at least it was milk and wasn’t blueberry or tomato based. While the smell is worse, it doesn’t stain near as bad.

    The only good thing about The Blueberry Exorcism occurring while on vacation was she slept in a pack ‘n play in the 2nd bathroom… over tile.

    Our house has white carpet.

    Well, it used to be white…

    I debated about showing Star Wars to my son today as we shared a bowl of popcorn. I decided against because…. I know my son. He would questions it constantly, mimic it endlessly, and probably cry during the garbage dump scene.

    But mostly, it would bring up “the death” talk again, and it distresses him.

    I’m enjoying the tiny window I have left to watch shows Lil Diva doesn’t “get” at her age.

    • There’s a very real reason why we’re slowly replacing all of the carpet in the house with laminate flooring . . . between the dogs & the kids, it’s a whole lot easier to pick up without dealing with carpet.

  7. How many nights a week do you have band practice ? 🙂

  8. Oh, nights like this are a true test. Hope you haven’t had too many since.
    I’m convinced it’s often a secret baby coup.
    PS- I’m totally a ninja right now pouring through your blog. It’s fun.

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