Monday, February 15, 2010

Little Guys Time

This past weekend, my wife, Meredith,took our daughter, Emerson, on a road trip to visit Meredith's grandmother in Virginia. That meant that I was alone with my two small boys, William (age 4) and Carson (age 2), for four full days. It's an adventure any time I'm alone with my boys. But I knew going in that playing single dad for that many days would be quite a challenge. Still, I welcomed a little guy time with my little guys.

The highlight of the weekend was the snow that arrived Friday afternoon. Powder Springs received around three inches. That might not sound like much if you live in Minneapolis, but in the Metro-Atlanta area, three inches of snow is enough to shut down schools, close businesses early, and send every mom within a hundred mile radius racing to the store to buy milk and bread. I'm not sure why southern moms have to hoard milk and bread when it snows. It seems to me that the most important supply to stock up on would be toilet paper. After all, I can drink water and eat Spaghetti O's if I have to. But the idea of having to wipe tender fannies with Brawny paper towels for three or four days really makes me cringe. Apparently, however, moms know that if you get snowed in without milk and bread, your chances of survival rank somewhere just below the Donner Party's.

As the flakes continued to fall most of Friday, my sons' excitement grew as the ground became less and less visible under the freshly fallen blanket of snow. Although I had planned to work most of the day from home, I knew that my writing would have to wait. How often does it snow in Powder Springs, Georgia? I had to put my work aside and take William and Carson outside to play. So, sliding my laptop aside and making a conscious effort to NOT think about how far behind I was falling on my projects, I gathered together the boys big coats, gloves, and hats, and prepared my little men for an afternoon on the great white tundra.

It wasn't a quick process. First of all, I had no idea where the boys' snow boots were. Meredith would have known in an instant. She's equipped with the standard mommy data base that tracks the location of everything from winter clothes to summer bathing suits. It doesn't matter where it's stored. If it belongs to the kids and is in the basement, garage, a closet, a car, hidden in the wreckage of the Titanic, or buried with Jimmy Hoffa, then Meredith knows where it is. Not me. Most days, I can't even find matching socks or my own razor. I knew the boys' snow boots were probably in the garage--but everything's in our garage! Fortunately, after a long search, I found William's snow boots (half-way home, one pair to go). But despite my best efforts, I could only find one of Carson's. Unable to convince my youngest son that pretending to be a one legged elf hopping around the North Pole would be fun, I had to come up with a different plan. Since I couldn't find his second snow boot, I bundled Carson's feet up as warmly as possible and slipped on his rain boots. Combined with his puffy jacket and winter hat, he looked like a Teletubby about to go in search of the deadliest catch.

Secondly, dressing small children for a day in the snow is not easy. It's not like most days when I just make sure they're wearing a warm coat and then let them run outside to play with their buddies. No, there are winter hats to pull down over little ears. There are layers of clothes to put on to keep little bodies warm and dry. The process was made even more challenging by tiny appendages unable to grasp that only one of them is supposed to go in each finger of a glove. When all was said and done, getting just two little boys ready to play in the snow took nearly forty minutes. Given the amount of time and effort it took to get dressed, I made the executive decision that we were going to remain outside until our lips turned blue and ice sickles hung from our tear ducts.

Playing in the snow was fun. We hooked up with our friends and had a blast. Somehow, I became the target of a snowball blitz. William and Carson got a kick out of hitting their old man with all the snow balls they could make. Meanwhile, cries of "Get Mr. Howard!" rang consistently from the mouths of the little girls next door. I don't know how I became the object of all the little people's snowball wrath, but I guess there are worse ways to spend an afternoon. Plus, I have to admit, I got in a couple of good shots myself. Oh sure, I mostly let the kids hit me and then giggle as they ran away. But, on occasion, my evil side took over and I couldn't help but unleash a direct hit, busting William in the head or whacking a neighbor's child in the back as she unsuccessfully tried to retreat to cover. The kids loved it. Even if the initial jolt left them a little stunned, I'd cover my tracks with words like, "You okay, William? Daddy didn't mean to hit you in the face," or "Oh, I'm sorry sweetie. You'll be able to see again as soon as that snow melts." All the while, I was giving myself internal high fives and thinking, "Eat snow, Pee-Wee! There's more where that came from!"

At night, the boys and I lived off of pizza delivery or dad's culinary skills (which consist primarily of reading a box and following directions regarding how to heat frozen dinner entrees). We watched a couple of movies and stuffed ourselves with popcorn. I even let William and Carson skip baths a couple of nights. After all, we're guys. Who cares if we smell a little bit when we're having a guy's weekend.

Today, thank goodness, Meredith and Emerson are coming home. The three of us are anxiously waiting. After all, even on a good day, Daddy still can't hug or make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich quite like Mommy. And, as much as I love my boys, I miss my girls. I also need some help. For four days I've refereed twenty-seven fights, given ten spankings, cleaned one pair of pooped-in underwear, and unclogged one toilet incapable of flushing cardboard despite Carson's multiple attempts. Yep, despite my deep affection for my sons, with each passing moment I find myself growing more and more understanding of species that eat their own young.

I'm grateful for the little guys time I got this weekend. I'd wish it on any father with sons. I know that I will always appreciate it as a special time I got to spend with William and Carson. But I also take it as a reminder of how much I need to express appreciation for my wife. If I have even a shred of sanity left, it's because of all she does to keep things running at home and to help take care of the kids. I hope my sons appreciate her too. After all, she's often the only thing standing between them and being eaten.

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