I had the chance to take three days off of work earlier this week, but it was by no means a vacation.
With my wife out of town, it was time for me to fly solo with our 9-year-old daughter, 7-year-old son and not-quite-yet-housebroken Shih Tzu mix dog. I had joked earlier that I might be finding my way to a certain enterprise located near the corner of Worthington’s Diagonal Road and Oxford Street by the first night of her absence, but that never happened. Instead of enjoying the rare quiet moments to kick back with a chilled adult beverage, I either read or tried to chant Buddhist-like mantras to myself in hopes of achieving some degree of relaxation.
Now, this isn’t intended to come across as a rant. All things considered, the kids and I had a good time with each other and, perhaps more importantly, the dog was still breathing when I got home and wasn’t off the strict schedule Becca had just gotten him on in preparation for the upcoming school year. Still, let’s just say I have no plans to become a stay-at-home dad anytime soon.
For instance, what the Coke can is to residents of the African bush in the film “The Gods Must Be Crazy” is what my iPad has become to Grace and Zach. Still, taking this technology away doesn’t immediately eradicate conflict; the not-so-loving siblings simply find something else to spar over. Zach has the habit of pestering his sister to work her into a tizzy — a rationale that’s hard for me to fathom, since Grace has a tendency to go from 0 to 100 on a tranquility scale in a matter of milliseconds. This thought may come back to haunt me, but I can’t help wondering sometimes when the day will come when they’ll be so close, they’ll work together to trick their parents instead of tattling on one another. Either way, patience I wish I had abundantly more of is involved.
I would be completely remiss if I didn’t express that I’m in complete awe of my wife, who has had the kiddos all summer long while off from school. I get to spend days (and some nights) at the Daily Globe; she has both the kids and house-related chores (and yes, the kids help, but often with considerable reluctance) to deal with. And now, with the new dog, it’s like we’ve thrown a mobile baby into the domestic cauldron. “Benji, no bite!” “Benji, nice!” “Benji, no!” “Benji, down.” “Benji Benji Benji Benji Benji!”
That said, Benji and I became buddies of sorts this week, though I may not always be the best of company during 5 a.m. trips outside. He sat on my lap as I read, let me tickle him without trying to gnaw at my skin and otherwise showed a decent degree of good-old-fashioned doggie loyalty.
And, while it’s easy to point out the kids’ bickering and general petulance, there were plenty of good moments, too. My favorite, though, lasted just a few seconds: Zach gave Grace a hug — and she embraced him back — after she helped her brother pick up a spare during a bowling outing.
That fleeting point in time, in retrospect, made the time I spent home with the kids worth it. Still, as much as I love them, I hope I remain managing editor at the Globe for the indefinite future. Or else, that business I mentioned earlier would almost certainly become a spot of extremely frequent patronage.