Summer of daddy daycare
This summer while I’ve been at work, my husband has been on deck with Daddy duties. The role of a teacher is not always an easy one, but one perk is having at least a month of summer holidays before work beckons again. The only thing is, when you have kids, a month off doesn’t mean what it used to when you were a bachelor. It used to be a month of sleeping, watching bad TV and eating junk, but now it means making healthy meals, brushing teeth, cleaning up as the house get obliterated every half hour, etc.
Every morning, it would take me 20 minutes to get out the door and go to work after waking up my husband, as he held my wrist, a look of panic in his eyes. The maggots (our moderately affectionate name for the kids) would have already started crawling into the bed and playing hide and seek while he would ask, “What am I going to do with them all day?”
He ended up taking them on several different adventures, whether it was swimming at water parks, riding the LRT, going to petting zoos or even just staying at home, dancing to Katy Perry videos all morning. I’m sure it made hanging out at the park with mom look pretty lame in comparison. He gamely took them to swim times and puppet shows, a lone man amongst a sea of women and kids, and made it through with his manhood intact.
He experienced all of the mad tumult of having young kids, like bringing the shopping in only to have our son smash all the eggs on the floor, or to watch our son run around like Gonzo only to crash into the furniture or over Daddy’s feet. When the kids would leave the house, their teeth weren’t always brushed, my son would be missing shoes and my daughter’s hair would resemble the lead singer of LMFAO. When I would ask about any of this, his response was to say, “They’re alive, aren’t they?”
I had to adjust to the change in our lives too. When you’re the primary caregiver, you take it for granted that you’re the one that your child will run to when they get a scrape, the one they want when they’re scared. Now that I’ve taken a backseat to Daddy in the main caregiver roll, my son seems to have rightly figured out that I’m about as useful as chopped liver. When I come back from a short trip away and come to give him a hug, he looks everywhere except for me, and then turns back to give Daddy a hug instead!
The change has also had the unexpected effect of making the kids want to be like Dad. My daughter will spend ages ‘fishing’ on the grass with her rod and reel, and my son has taken up the habit of spitting (except he’s not fussy where he does it, and has been known to spit long streams of milk onto the kitchen floor). As long as they don’t try shaving or operating power tools, this is fine.
As for my husband, he too has gotten an appreciation for what stay-at-home parents (usually moms) do, and he is now the first to say it is as exhausting as going to work every day. He’s a much better hairstylist and personal dresser now and his patience for children running over his feet has improved. He admitted that actually, he even has affection for it, for the “pitter-patter” of their little feet preceding the sound of them falling like a ton of bricks.
I have a lot of respect for fathers like my husband, who stand up to the role of parenting their kids and do a fantastic job. Being at home with the kids may not always be easy, but it strengthens the unique bond between a father and his children, and I’m sure it is an experience they – and he – will never forget.
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