Most fathers know the situation well—mom is somehow absent, the children are bestowed upon you, and you have to do your best to keep the same kind of order they’ve got when mommy is around. Of course you know what to do, you’re a dad.
So we eat goldfish and m&m’s for breakfast, balancing seafood (for their growing brains), dairy (milk chocolate, hello?) to help their bones develop, and the chocolate/peanut butter combo to give them energy for their day. Who needs a nutritionist in our home? Who needs a board on Pinterest with fancy meal suggestions? We’ve got daddy.
Okay, so you’ve got no clue what you’re doing. But this is what makes life interesting and gives me something to write about. And in our home I have the family strategist and negotiator, age four, to inform me about “how it’s normally done.” It goes something like what follows.
Around the breakfast table (see above) Benjamin informs me, “Um, Daddy, I would probably turn the TV on for us so that we stay quiet while mommy sleeps. And don’t put on Phineas & Ferb, cuz we’re too loud when we watch that. You should put on Curious George, cuz when we watch that we’re quiet.”
‘Hmmm,’ I think to myself, ‘I guess that does make sense.’ At this point the negotiator has won the game. Your mind is like putty in his hands, and from here on out he gets what he wants—all while making you think it’s your idea.
He hands me the empty milk container, which I am about to toss in the trash, and says as he turns it upside down, “Daddy, you see this triangle with the ‘2’ inside of it? That means we recycle; we don’t throw that away.” I knew that, of course I did.
As the boys sit on the couch, Benjamin hands me the two remotes and walks me through how to turn on our Blu-ray player and TV. He then shows me how to navigate through the menu options, choose “Netflix,” and then find the newest Curious George that they haven’t watched yet. “This should give mommy some time to sleep,” he assures me.
Mommy wakes up somewhere in the middle of it toting her crying alarm clock, then turns to me and says, “So I see Benjamin helped you figure out the morning routine.” Guilty as charged.
And then you realize you’ve been had by the expert four-year-old negotiator. But if for nothing else than your wife’s laughter, you say, “No, I just figured this would give you some time to sleep.” And as the wise mother of three, she doesn’t buy it for a second; she just gives you the courtesy laugh as if to say, ‘Nice try.’