I posted part one yesterday of “Same Old Shit,” excerpted from my upcoming memoir, PregMANcy: A Dad, a Little Dude and a Due Date. Following is part two of this chapter, but in case you haven’t checked out the first half yet, read this first.
“I have to wash my hands,” said Mattias. “They’re sticky from the banana.”
“Fine, go wash them,” I said, glancing up over the top of my computer.
“But I want to use the sink in the kitchen.”
“I’m too short.”
“Dad,” he said, “that’s mean. You need to pick me up so I can wash.” I put the computer down and went in to hoist him up to the sink.
“There,” I grunted, setting him back down. “Now, go get dressed.” I had a conference call coming in a little more than two hours, and about twice as much work as I could get done between now and then to wade through to avoid making an ass of myself on the phone.
He had no sooner gotten around the corner into the living room before he came back around, still naked. “I have to wash my hands again,” he said.
“Because I touched the red chair and it had hair on it, and now the hair is on my hands, and I can’t get my clothes on with hair on my hands.”
“Fine,” I grumbled, “come here.” We repeated the hand-washing ritual and I ushered him back into the living room, just as I heard the chime on my computer indicate I had more emails coming in. Mattias picked up his Denver Nuggets jersey and almost had it over his head, when he stopped, set it down and made a face.
“I have to wash again, dad.”
“You’re kidding me.”
“Look,” he thrust his hand under my nose, “there’s more hair.”
“Your mom just vacuumed yesterday,” I said. “You must be a freaking hair magnet.” We washed his hands a third time, and I practically drop-kicked him into the living room to get dressed while I made his lunch. He got as far as his socks before it all came to a grinding halt again.
“These socks are too small,” he said. “I need different socks.”
“They’re not too small,” I said, pouring a can of soup into a plastic travel bowl. “They’re ankle socks. Your Uncle Matt wears them, so they’re cool.”
“Why does Uncle Matt wear ankle socks?” he sat in the middle of the kitchen floor, wrestling with the socks.
“I have no idea. Put it on your list to discuss with him next time you guys chat.”
“I can’t get these on,” he threw them down on the floor. “I need help.” I set the food on the counter and sat down with him to contend with the notorious ankle socks. They actually were pretty hard to get on.
“There,” I said, stretching the second one over his heel, “now, go finish getting dressed.”
“I don’t want shorts,” he complained. “It’s cold outside, and I need jeans.”
“It’s a high of eighty-eight today,” I said, grabbing a tube of string cheese. “You’ll be fine.”
“But those shorts are too big,” he said. They’ll fall off when I run across the playground.”
“We’ll get you a belt.”
“I need it now, or I can’t keep my shorts on.” I stopped lunch preparations and ran upstairs to find a belt. It was buried underneath fourteen pairs of shoes that are too small for him to wear any more. Why we still have them in his closet is a mystery to me. By the time I got downstairs, he had his shorts on – backwards.
“You put your shorts on backwards, buddy,” I said.
“No I didn’t,”
“The button’s back there by your butt,” I said. “That’s backwards.”
“I put them on right,” he argued, “then they changed by magic.”
“Fine,” I sighed, laying the belt on the chair, “change them back.”
“I need help with my belt.”
I’m going to have a heart attack before this kid even gets to school. We get his shorts turned around and sufficiently secured to avoid a playground nightmare, and I leave him with only his shoes to go while I finish his lunch. He came in completely dressed, finally, and peered over the counter.
“What did you make me?”
“Soup, cheese, crackers, and apple and lemonade.”
“What kind of crackers?”
“The kind with the lines like this?” he demonstrated some inscrutable pantomime with his finger, intended to outline some sort of design on some cracker he’s seen at some point in his lifetime.
“I dunno, they’re just freaking square.”
“Let me see them,” he insisted. I took them out of his Backyardigans lunch bag and let him inspect the design on the crackers. Thankfully, they passed. I zipped up the contents, which always is followed by Mattias inspecting the zipping job we’ve done, to make sure that there’s no daylight around the end of the zipper area.
We gave birth to Rain Man. Next thing you know, he’ll be counting toothpicks on the floor and freaking out if it’s two minutes until Judge Wapner is on.
Finally, with him fully dressed, and with a lunch approved by the four-year-old FDA squad, we head out the door. We get out to the car and I realize his car seat is missing. “Shit,” I said, peering over the back seat.
“That’s a potty word, dad,” said Mattias. “You’re not supposed to say ‘shit.’ ‘Shit’ is a bad word, dad.” He loves an excuse to correct me, and have a legitimate excuse to use obscenities.
“Thank you, son,” I rubbed my eyes with my fingers. “You wait here. I’m going to go look for your seat in the house.” For some unknown reason, it was sitting in the living room, right next to the door by which I had just left the house. How in the hell did I miss that?
“Dad,” came a voice from the trunk of the Xterra, “look what I found.”
“God only knows,” I lowered my head.
“It’s your guitar stand.”
“Sure is,” I reached back to pull him up into the middle seat.
“Did you use this last night at the monkey bar?”
“Yep, I used it at the monkey bar.” I fastened him in and shut his door, but could hear his howls of protest before I could get around to my door on the other side.
“Dad,” he said, with a look of great distress on his face, “this seatbelt is too loose.”
“So tighten it.”
“But it’s all twisted, see?” he lifted the harness, hoping to convince me of his plight. I reached back, gave the belt a yank and tightened it up against his lap.
“There’ you’re fine.”
“But it’s still twisted,” he argued.
“So am I,” I scowled. “Deal with it.”
I finally got back home with about an hour and a half left before my meeting, my list of emails had grown by about fifteen or so, but I just had to close it down and pretend it didn’t exist. By some freak occurrence, I happened to pack several hours of work into that ninety-minute span and make my call without incident.
“So, how’s your day going, mister mom?” came a voice across the line from seven hundred miles away.
“Oh, pretty good so far,” I sighed, picking up my notepad. “Same old, really.”