Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Mommy's Day Out

My wife slipped into her shoes. Normally that’s not a big deal. People put on their shoes for a lot of reasons; cold feet, they’re not at a Japanese restaurant, they know the dog did something in the house but they don’t know where.

It was for none of those reasons … she was going Out.

Our baby was three weeks old, and in that time my wife had been out of the house once. She and I went to the grocery store and she’d called it a date. I was surprised it took her this long to try to escape. I just hoped she’d come back.

“Where are you going?” I said, wondering if I should ask her to bring home beer.

“The library,” she said, her feet in the sprinter’s blocks. “I’ll be gone about an hour. Can you handle the kids?”

What? I thought. Can I handle a two-year-old and a baby? I once took two girls to a high school dance and got away with it. I can handle anything. Wow, I’m glad I didn’t say that out loud.

“Sure,” I said. “I’ll be …”

But she was gone.

Handle the kids? I thought. Pfft.

The baby was sleeping soundlessly in her bassinet and the two-year-old was quietly lining toy trucks into a precise grid on our dining room floor. It looked like a car lot, I realized, wondering if I was looking through a window at careers to come. Yeah, I could handle this.

“So,” I said to my two-year-old. “Do you want to make cookies for Mommy?”

He giggled and shot off the floor, scattering die-cast metal trucks over the room.

“Coook,” he screamed, using the traditional toddler word for ‘Daddy’s an idiot.’

I had about an hour. No problem.

Then the baby cried. OK, I picked her up. The toddler squished his fingers in raw eggs and flour, which we all know means in this modern age of enlightenment (by which I mean our parents didn’t love us) I don’t care about my child’s health. Fine, I’ll wash his hands later – if the baby ever stops crying.

“That’s nice,” I said, grabbing the toddler’s chocolate-chip cookie dough hands as he waved them at the baby. “Yes, she has eyes.”

Did I mention there was a game on?

Can I handle it? I wondered as I calmed the baby (without the NyQuil my folks used), baked a golden-brown batch of chocolate chip cookies, washed salmonella from the toddler’s hands, and didn’t say “&%$#” during the game.

“I don’t know how you did it,” my wife said when she came home, seeing the happy children, the plate of warm cookies, and a lack of emergency vehicles in front of our home.

Yeah, me neither.

Being a parent is tough, but if I can do it, monkeys can do it. Oh, wait. Monkeys have been good parents a lot longer than humans have. Let’s have a few cookies and think about that.

Copyright 2007 by Jason Offutt

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