I am a man with a routine during the work week. Up at about 6:15. Shower, dress, feed the dogs, and out the door between 6:45-7:00. Might stop for a biscuit on my way to work and then at work by around 7:30. Thursdays, I eat breakfast at The Skillet. It’s what I do. It’s how I get my “me time.”
So when my wife left this morning to attend a conference in Columbia, SC, my routine was turned upside down. Today and tomorrow I get to do what my wife does everyday – take care of my 3 princesses. Actually, only one still considers herself to be a princess, but that’s a story for another day. So for these two days, I have the privilege of taking the girls to school, picking them up from school, making sure their homework gets done, feeding them, and putting them to bed. I help Carrie with a lot of these activities, but she normally makes all of this happen. I have stayed home in the morning a couple of times to witness how all of this transpires. I try to step-in and help, but I quickly realize that I only add to the drama of three girls getting ready for school, so I had some reservations about how these next two mornings will go.
I am happy to say this morning went pretty well. I’m pretty sure Carrie threatened the girls in some form or fashion, but they won’t confess. We got ready with a minimal amount of drama. My oldest daughter, Lydia, tried to test some boundaries. She came downstairs wearing a t-shirt that she normally sleeps in and her soccer flops – not my idea of nice school attire. So I sent her upstairs to change. She came back down in a nicer shirt and her second try with shoes was worse than the first – a pair of old moccasins that are about two sizes too small. I gave her the “mean Dad” look, and she quickly changed her shoes. Lydia’s new motto is “Dare to be Different.” I admire the fact she wants to be different, but there is a right way and wrong way to do it. Dressing like she just rolled out bed is not the right way. If she wants to do that when she’s in college, that’s fine. But she’s only 10 and still has to listen to her Daddy. The other two girls weren’t a problem. Ansley was on her best behavior. I think her mom must have paid her off. Clarissa was her usual self. She always makes getting dressed an adventure. They ate their breakfast (Cocoa Puffs), and we got out the door around 7:30. Not too bad.
The drop-offs were a little adventurous, and I was running short on time. I needed to get to the plant by 8:00, but deep down, I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I pulled in the wrong drop off lane when I dropped the big girls off at school and had to wait for traffic to pass, and then when I took the “mouse”, aka Clarissa, we had to put-up the book bag, and she had to show me a couple of things before I left her in the loving care of Ms. Sharon and Ms. Lynn. I got back on the road at about 7:45. It’s amazing how much more traffic is on the road at 7:45 vs 7:00. My normal 15 minute ride took almost 30 minutes. Can you say road rage in a minivan? I finally made it to work by 8:10. Mission accomplished, but I knew the afternoon duties would be here before I knew it, and I needed to put gas in the van. Carrie was nice enough to leave me a pick-up schedule before she left so how could I mess up?
1:40 – I should have left work about 10 minutes earlier to pick-up Clarissa by 2:00, but somehow I made it on time. I hope the traffic cams didn’t see me running all of those yellow lights. 2:55 – Time to pick-up Lydia from her after school activity. She helps collect all of the recycling from the classrooms. When I was in school, this was considered a form of punishment. Now, it’s an after school activity that kids volunteer to do. Go figure. Ansley has play practice and won’t be home until 6:30 – at least that is the plan. More on that later. 3:30 – Time for Lydia to start her homework. Math and a short essay about Rosa Parks for Black History Month. 4:00 – Time to proofread the essay. Not a good effort. I give Lydia “the look” again, and then help her fix mistakes before she re-writes it for the 4th time. She’s mad, but Daddy doesn’t care. I’m a little too demanding. During this time, Clarissa is watching her shows. She has to watch her shows. Today, it’s Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Peppa Pig. I can only hope that Days of Our Lives is still on when she gets older because she is a girl that loves her shows.
4:30 – 4th draft of paper done. Find 3 misspelled words. Lydia gets “the look” again. Daddy gets “the look” from Lydia. She fixes the words. I talk to her about attention to detail, but she’s done with her homework so she’s tuning me out. By 5:30, the girls are hungry for yet another snack. So far, they’ve eaten popcorn, Doritos, fruit snacks, M&Ms, and whatever else they could find when I wasn’t looking. I offer Clarissa yogurt which is apparently not what she had in mind. Not junky enough, I guess. We go back and forth for a few minutes. I give her “the look” which doesn’t seem to phase her at first, but she eventually relents and takes the yogurt. She’s a tough negotiator. I almost caved and gave her the Cheezits that she was asking for.
6:30 – No Ansley yet. Starting to wonder if I was supposed to pick her up. Carrie had made arrangements for Ansley to get a ride home, but I was beginning to question if we really had that conversation. 6:45 – Still no Ansley. Now I’m hungry. Check the window a few more times. Still questioning whether or not I was supposed to pick her up.
7:00 – Doorbell rings. It’s Ansley and our friendAshley. They had a parents meeting after play practice. Ashley said she would fill Carrie in later about what was covered in the meeting. She said that I had enough to worry about without trying to remember all of the details from the parents meeting. Should I be offended by that comment? Nope. She’s right. Plus, I’m really hungry now. No time to talk. Off to Chic-fil-a for dinner. Are you surprised? Did you really think I would cook? When Dad is taking care of the kids, we have to eat out. It’s a time honored tradition.
7:10 – Arrive at Chic-fil-a. See a few friends. They see I’m alone with the girls. The men give me the “I feel bad for you” look. The women think it’s sweet that the girls are out with their Daddy. At least that’s what they say, but the looks on their face say “Now he knows how we feel.”
7:15 – Kids Meals purchased. Finally sitting down to dinner. Evil Ansley is eating with us tonight. She gets really grumpy when she’s hungry. Lydia decides to pick on her. I quickly end this because it could get ugly. The nuggets and fries are too hot to eat per Clarissa. So much for a quick meal. My kids like their food ice cold.
7:30 – Time to trade the Kids Meal toy in for ice cream cones with cherries on top. This is Lydia’s creation, and how can the people at the counter tell her no when she looks at them with her big “doe” eyes. Two make it back to the table with the ice cream intact. Ansley does not. One of the cherries falls off, and then she drops the ice cream. Can you say meltdown? Time to step into action. Quick clean-up. Calm Ansley down. Try not to make a scene. Can I do it?
7:32 – Daddy at the counter getting another ice cream cone for Ansley, but the girl only puts one cherry on it. Will Ansley have another meltdown because it doesn’t have two cherries? Should I ask for another cherry? I’m not sure, but I’ll risk it. I need to get back to the table. It looks like Lydia is giving Ansley advice. This could get ugly.
7:33 – Ansley is happy again. Ice cream in hand. All of the girls are happy now.
7:45 – Clarissa is still eating her ice cream. Ansley is too. Lydia finished her’s 5 minutes ago. I offer to help them eat their ice cream. I’m ready to get home. I get “the look.”
8:00 – Heading home. Ansley is mad that play practice lasted so long. She’s mad because the other kids messed up so they had to redo the scenes that she is in 2 times. She doesn’t have much patience at times. She is also a kid who needs some downtime, which she did not get today.
8:15 – PJs on. Teeth brushed. Hair brushed. Faces and hands washed. No baths tonight. They passed the smell test. Now, I’m reading The Three Little Pigs to Clarissa. The phone rings. It’s Mommy!! All is right with the world now. The girls talk with Mommy. Clarissa gives her the rundown from preschool. Carrie normally teaches Clarissa’s class. Clarissa gets her caught up on all of the gossip. It’s funny to listen to. The other girls talk too. They’re happy again. There is definitely a special bond between a mother and her children.
8:30 – Reading to the older girls now. Bible stories. Jonah and the whale. Jesus and garden at Gethsemane. Ansley is ready for bed. Lydia is too. Ansley farts in Lydia’s room before she leaves. Lydia is mad and gives Ansley “the look.” I laugh out loud. Lydia gives me “the look.”
We’ve had quite a day. Three little girls can wear a guy out. I’m so out of sorts that I’m taking tomorrow (Friday) off. I guess I had better get used to it though. This is my practice run for when Carrie heads back to work in late March/early April.
I do hope that the girls had a good day. I know I did.