Daddy Talk: Master of the House
When my wife returned from a trip to New York recently, I had just completed a successful run at being a single dad for five days. We made it to school on time each day, we got all the homework done, and we remembered to bathe sporadically. I even had to troubleshoot an unforeseen car repair.
Imagine the shock to my system when Ashley showed up back in town, her much-anticipated re-entry, and made the following observation: “Isaac got his hair cut.” I was taken aback and contradicted this point: “No, he didn’t.” She explained further, “Tim, look at his bangs. Did he try to cut his own hair while I was gone?” No way, I thought. We had just gone through this with our four-year old a couple months ago. Certainly, the eight-year old didn’t make a deliberate decision to join the hair-hack-job trend.
Before I could get my wits about me, let alone make an intelligent response, Ashley had called Isaac over and asked him directly if he had cut his own hair while she was away. He grinned proudly and said, “Oh yeah. I cut off everything in the front, on Tuesday. In math class.” Tuesday?! In math class?! That was the day that Ashley left town, which meant that I had the entire duration of her trip to NOT notice. And as I looked at it now, you could definitely tell that those bangs were not straight across the front and that the right side was hanging down significantly.
Though clearly amused with the situation and with my obliviousness, Ashley continued with some questions: “How did you fail to notice his hair?” I responded with the logical suggestion that perhaps no one else noticed either. And to defend my theory, I called in our six-year old and told him that Isaac had cut his own hair on Tuesday. Tanner was incredulous: “What?! He did?!” I gestured to Tanner approvingly while glancing to Ashley with satisfaction. She simply rolled her eyes.
Desperate to vindicate my care-taking performance, I spent the rest of the afternoon intermittently peppering Ashley with examples of things I had done well during the past week — such as making sure everyone bathed — but she seemed convinced that the alleged hair incident outweighed many of the positives. She was apparently not even impressed that we all survived the week, which, I think, should have been the true baseline for success. (It’s the same baseline we use for assessing new babysitters.)
Unfortunately, as the next day or two passed, several other testaments of my negligence were leaked by my children. My four-year old, Lydia, spilled the beans that I had not brushed her hair in five days. She was technically correct; however, she also failed to mention that I had tried to brush her hair everyday but that each time I approached her with the brush, she started screaming, which prompted me to do something that would receive less resistance.
It also came out that I had inadvertently sent Lydia to church without any pants on — only a shirt that had a sort of frilly bottom that I thought was a skirt. Ashley tells me it’s called a tunic. But, really, how is anyone supposed to tell the difference between those sorts of things?