Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Some things Dad just shouldn't know

I'm not in charge of anything. Well, except the garbage, but that's only once a week. A lot of dads are like this. We go to our job, come home, eat supper, take out the garbage, then catch up on all the neat stuff our wife and kids did while we were at work.
Of course, some things we don't need to know.

"Sam has a play date," my wife said, not realizing how much those words were as foreign to me as if she'd spoken in Klingon.

A play date? I thought, fighting off images of two toddlers singing pidgin selections from "The Music Man." Do the words 'play' and 'date' even go together? Is that what Bush and Putin have when they meet at Camp David? A play date? Does 'Shipoopi' actually translate into 'the bombs drop at dawn?'

"You mean another mom is bringing her toddler to our house to play with our son?" I said, trying to put things in terms that didn't sound silly.

"Yeah," she said. "It's a play date."

People have an instinctual need to rationalize things to fit into their own concept of the universe. With kids, jumping off the roof in a Superman cape has Mom's endorsement if she's not there to say no. With women like my wife, Rainbow Brite is the unquestioned lord and master of the universe. And with guys, comparing everything to sports, auto mechanics and warp drive technology is acceptable and, frankly, expected.

Not all of our rationalizations are correct. And most of them, despite the name, are not rational. Comfortable maybe, but not rational.

"Please don't call it a play date," I said, shuddering. "It sounds like they're going out for dinner and dancing Š then maybe to a show."

If guys were in charge of their kids' play schedules, things would be different. A "play date" would be called a Belching.

"We're going to a Belching," dads would say, assuming our wives would know we were taking our toddler to the playground to play with Terry's 2-year-old. The kids would run around, throw rocks at squirrels and climb the slides backwards, while Terry and I talk about football, cars, diapers, beer and most probably cheerleaders.

At some point, we'd belch hence the name.

"Then what would you call it?" she said in a way that meant "a Belching" was out.

"Well," I said, going down that old fogy route by saying "when I was a kid." "When I was a kid, my mom called it 'going over to Charlie's house.'"

She smiled and patted my arm.

"When you were a kid, eight-tracks were cool," she said. "His play date's tomorrow."

Wow. Maybe that's why I'm only in charge of the garbage.

Copyright 2006 by Jason Offutt

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