So Beth went to an adoption conference in Houston. It’s really great for her. She went with a bunch of other adoptive mothers from our church, and the few times she’s called, she seems to be having a good time.
So for two days, I’m taking care of all the kids’ needs. Now that it is Friday night, I have officially reached the half-way point, and no children are dead, but we’ve had some adventures along the way. Here is a highlights reel:
1. When you have three naked boys in the bathroom and you are staring down at an underwear drawer, it can be intimidating. I knew Beth keeps all of the underwear in one drawer, but I didn’t know which belonged to each. This was a time-critical problem because with three naked boys in the bathroom, the question is not “if” but “when” bad decisions will be made with “low hanging fruit”. After unfolding about twelve pairs of underwear and reading the labels, I discovered that the size is approximately the age of the child! Who knew? That’s a great system. Interestingly enough, my underwear indicates a range of inches for the waist of the intended user, and my age falls neatly within that window as well. Lord, help me when I’m 60!
2. Potty training. Thank goodness no accidents, but Darth is regular! I seem to vaguely recall Beth telling me, but when she drops a deuce, the first one she says is the dad, the second is the mom, and any remaining are the babies. I took her to the bathroom, and got her all “set up”. When I returned to check on her, she informed me that she just had a mom and dad today. That made her a little sad, but she got over it fast (flushing is a little like “out of sight, out of mind”).
3. During a lull this morning, I sat down at the computer while the younger kids were playing in their room. After a series of random mouse clicks, I found myself looking at recipes, decorating ideas, and helpful tips on ringing in the holidays! Really?!? Half a day of being a stay-at-home dad, and this happens! Usually, none of those things are interesting to me! I did learn some helpful instructions on making more-than-one minute rice… something I was able to use, but more about that later.
4. A call from school says the middle son is sick around 12:30 pm today. This would be the third of four trips to school I would make and the only trip that was unplanned (I shouldn’t be so hard on Beth about the van always being empty on the weekends). They told me he had a stomach ache, and I suspected foul play when he skipped care-free out of the nurse’s office with a grin on his face and a dulcet tone announcing that his stomach hurt. We got home, and I told him to go to bed and rest. An hour later, he got up and told me he had been miraculously healed. It was close to time to pick up the rest of the kids so I saved my speech, but when we were standing in line in front of the cafeteria getting ready to pick up the other three, I questioned him about whether he was really sick, or if he just wanted to come home from school (FYI – we’ve had some issues with him not wanting to work hard and only participating when it is something he wants to do. This smelled like a continuation of that). He told me he was really sick, and I accused him of lying to me. A few minutes later, he threw up… in front of the cafeteria… around 50 other parents and kids… that just watched me chew him out (fortunately, it was in Spanish, but I definitely didn’t manage perceptions well). A teacher saw, ran inside and got paper towels, a trash can, and some water for him. I cleaned vomit off the pavement, he drank the water, and the baby stood there watching the two of us. I apologized to him for my incorrect accusations, told him he was absolutely not in trouble any more, and that I loved him very much. It’s hard to tell what’s worse – having egg on your face, or just vomit. I definitely try to seek divine help in every situation, but this time, I pondered, “What would Beth do?”
5. Our kids bring home a billion notes from teachers, the school, etc… in their folder. I think I had to sign and initial about thirteen notes, reading logs, and school photo order forms. If there is this much legislation that comes home for a kinder-gardener, no wonder things move so slow in congress! Beth usually does this, so I only see what comes out the other end of that low-pass filter, but I didn’t realize how low-passy it was!
6. “Mami usually does it this way…” “Mami says we should…” “Mami always….” “Mami…” “Mami…” “Mami…” I’ve heard it about a thousand times today. I wonder if wide receivers say stuff like “Payton Manning usually does…” when his backup QB comes in too. She always tells me how much they love their Papi, but these Pavlov’s dogs have been conditioned into the Mami-way so well that anything different is just not worth salivating over.
7. Our kitchen is not very man-friendly. Man friendliness is defined by the number of items you simply have to open, heat up, and serve. Also, if you can skip some of those steps, it makes it all the more appealing. Soft drinks are king as they come in their own serving device and are best cold. All you do is open! As I behold our pantry, I see things like flour, sugar, and more-than-one minute rice. I had to do something since we didn’t have the budget to eat out. So, for supper I called upon a Nichols’ staple and the comfort food of my childhood. We had rice and chili (from a can), with little hot-dog wieners cut up in the chili. I know it’s not the healthiest thing, but right now we are just going for “sustain life” until Mami gets home.
8. As a fun treat, now that the weather is cooling off a little, I thought it might be fun to set up the tent outside in the back yard and camp out. I’ve learned that you wait to spring happy news on kids until the very last possible moment because you don’t want to break promises of fun things if plans have to change out of necessity. I waited until 6:00 pm to tell the kids of my plan tonight. As we were setting up the tent outside, it began to rain. In the half-full/half-empty world of psychological glasses, I didn’t hear a 20% chance of rain. I heard an 80% of being pleasant. We began to roll the tent up and pack it away for another day. About the time I’ve got it put away, the rain ends. So, we set up the tent a second time. Fast-forward to bed-time. The temperature is suppose to dip down into the low 70’s this evening, but I forgot about the humidity. I went out to read them a Bible story in the tent, and we all were covered in sweat by the end of that 20 minutes. I told them that it was a good idea not to touch me as I had my hands full getting rid of my own body heat! I began to second-guess my tent decision a second time, but they were all sacked out before I could return with a fan, and it is slowly getting cooler out there. I think the fun offsets and conquers the heat. If only the Mavericks could do it again…
9. We had a pretty cool moment tonight as we blessed the rice, chili, and little wieners. Usually when the kids pray, they thank God sort of like how I would imagine Steve Carell’s character in “Anchor Man” would: “Dear God, thank you for lamp, thank you for red candle, thank you for whatever is popping in my head right at this moment.” We give them a pass because it is all from God (not bad theology), and they are just little kids. Tonight our oldest prayed, and he said something amazing: “Dear God, thank you for Mami, and thank you that she gets to go to another country.” (Texas is a big state, but it was an honest mistake.) He continued, “Thank you for all the people that helped Mami and Papi come to Colombia so we could have a family…” Wow! I kind of didn’t listen to the rest of the prayer because I was blown away. I felt like saying “Blessed are you son, because my Father in Heaven revealed this to you!”
If you are reading, and you felt a little blessed earlier this evening, now you know why! In all of the day-in day-out activities, I thank God that we can laugh at ourselves and enjoy the family that so many people helped bring together. I also thank him for the joy of being a parent. It’s been a crazy day with the kids on a power play (my analogy breaks down because Mami isn’t in a metaphorical penalty box, but just go with it), but moments like our prayer tonight, make it so sweet!
OK, I need to go wash some dishes, do some laundry, and thank God for my wife. Thanks for reading.
At the dinnermesa,