Monday, May 13, 2013

Three-Year-Old Capitalizes on Rookie Mistakes, Inches Closer to Bathroom Mark

If today were a football game, my three-year-old would have beaten me by three touchdowns. I'd have to sit, sullen, in front of a microphone with a makeshift backdrop sponsored by some unknown bank, explaining to my wife what went wrong, how I strayed from the gameplan too early, and how the other team capitalized on all my mistakes and didn't make any mistakes themselves.

The three-year-old made no mistakes today. To paraphrase the great former Oakland Raiders broadcaster Bill King, "Jascha Heifetz never played a violin with more dexterity than this three-year-old boy is playing his Dad..." Meanwhile, Dad could not get out of his own way.

Let's review where Dad bungled his way through the day:

1. He let his kids know he had the day off. As soon as somebody saw that Dad was putting on a plain gray hoodie instead of a plain white dress shirt, everybody knew that Dad might try to stay home and get caught up on stuff, and there wasn't going to be any of that. Because the oldest is in kindegarten, she couldn't stay home with Dad, so there were some jealousy tears. Because the one-year-old doesn't know what's going on, we could take him to day care without issue. But the middle child knows exactly what's going on, and still in half a haze from another night of cosleeping, asked, "Can I stay home with you Daddy?" Dad crumbles under the pressure.

2. He took his kid seriously when he said he was hungry. Dad went for a haircut, which means a free Dum Dum lollipop for any kid who can tag along and keep quiet for 15 minutes. The promise of Dum Dum lollipops, for whatever reason, causes normally irrational kids to do perfectly rational things like behave themselves for short spurts. Not terribly sure why, since a Dum Dum is almost half gone before you've taken the wrapper completely off. But my kids could win a lottery for an all-inclusive playdate at Caillou's house and would turn it down if dad is getting his hair cut that day and they could get a Dum Dum lollipop.

Today there were no lollipops, and on the way out to the car, the kid, after letting me know that the haircut store should get some more, then declared "I'm hungry." He was not hungry. He had two peanut butter and brown sugar sandwiches (the official lunch of childhood diabetes) earlier but somehow Dad forgot that, and took him to a place he had never been, a place that has been voted to have the best hamburgers in the history of Delaware, where he ordered a hot dog.

3. When kids are bored, they say they are hungry. When kids are bored in an eating place, they suddenly have to go to the bathroom. Dad forgot this too. So when my son was considering his hot dog like it was abstract art instead of eating it, nobody was surprised when suddenly we had to go find a bathroom. Even me.

But that's the good news. With our visit to the previously unexplored bathroom, there are now only 9 public bathrooms in the Mid-Atlantic region that we haven't visited. One family trip to Potter County, PA, and another to extreme upstate New York and we should have that wrapped up. That's when we take our act to the New England states, and by the time the youngest is potty trained, we hit the Deep South. I predict that before anyone graduates high school, we will become the first family to visit every public bathroom in the Continental US.

My only regret is that we won't accomplish this feat thirty years ago, when the five of us could have appeared on "That's Incredible!" I would have worn a brown suit and worn my hair out a little too far over the ears as Fran Tarkenton asked each of my kids about their favorite bathroom in the US. And when Cathy Lee Crosby says to my wife, "Surely there must have been a time when you were ready to give up," my wife would respond, "Absolutely not. If you can survive the bathrooms on the PA Turnpike you can survive anything."

Speaking of my wife, leave it to her then to salvage something out of this day. When I made the boy bring home his unwanted hot dog for supper, and his sister compained vociferously that he got to eat a hot dog that he didn't want instead of the regularly scheduled dinner that she didn't want, my wife just pulled a switcheroo and gave the girl the hot dog and the boy the other stuff.

That wasn't hard, for a seasoned veteran at least. I'll need to cut down on the rookie mistakes or else it will be a long season ahead.

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