Since the inception of TRS in 2000, I have written about life "on the road". By plane, train, or automobile, I tell the story of trips; but the real story in each one is about the journey, not the destination. On March 15th, 2008, Daddy's Little Speed Bump was born. 21 months later, Speed Bump Number Two arrived. I thought it fitting to create a place, with a Road Scholars theme, to share this new journey.

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Sunday
Jul132008

It's Your Turn

My wife is an elementary school teacher by trade. She earned her Bachelors degree in Liberal Studies from Cal Poly and has valid teaching credentials in both California and Texas. If you were to add up all the days she’s actually worked in the past year, I don’t think you’d need more than two hands to do the math. It’s not her fault. The plan was for her to resume life as a substitute teacher here in Texas upon our return home from England last fall. Unfortunately nine months of nausea meant a different plan. By the time she had the baby and was ready to resume school, there were only about two weeks left until summer break. Again, not her fault. But it turns out all this unscheduled unemployment has taken its toll on our bank account, so I sent my wife back to work.

One of my favorite things so far about fatherhood is the hand off. It’s most apparent on weekday afternoons between four-thirty and five O’clock. That’s when I usually come home from earning the money to pay for the diapers and the formula and the dog food (crap, we’re almost out of dog food) and the electricity and the water…you get the idea. As I push the button to open the garage door I utter a sigh of relief, “ah, home sweet home”. I pull into the garage, pondering what stuffed animal my dog will bring me as a welcome home gift today. I get out of the car and walk to the door. In one hand are my keys and the mail, in the other, my empty lunch bag. Closing the garage door behind me, I stop in the laundry room to put away my sunglasses, badge, keys, and blue tooth. Look at that, I now have a partially free hand. Hallie greets me with one of her toys. I don’t dare acknowledge her yet, she’s too excited and would pee on the carpet. I walk into the family room, anxious to be kissed by my wife and greeted by my little princess. Pay close attention, here comes the hand off. With eyes on my partially freed hand, my wife, sitting with the child in the lazy boy, holds her high in the air. “Here’s your princess, she has a poopy diaper. It’s your turn!”

What the hell happened to “give her to me”?

It seems being a stay at home mom was taking it’s toll on my wife, so I sent her back to work.

Having mommy work nights and weekends has hastened the daily hand off, but it’s improved household morale. For example, Kaitlyn and I are celebrating diaper bag liberation. For some reason my wife packs enough accoutrements in that thing to cross the Sahara. When we’re out together I always end up on the wrong end of a hand off, after all, it’s my turn. I remember one especially frustrating experience in the family restroom of Target. Kaitlyn had what we affectionately refer to as a “blow out”. That means there was shit everywhere, literally.

I took her into the bathroom and flipped down the changing table. I carefully placed our changing pad on top and then put the disposable changing cloth on top of that, just like mommy taught me. I extracted the child from the stroller and placed her on the changing pad with a robotic lift and twist maneuver that kept her literally out at arms reach. This was for her protection and mine. I tried carefully peeling off her clothing so as not to smear crap all over both of us. I failed. By the time the outfit came off she had shit on her head.

It's a funny thing about family restrooms; they give you your own room with a handy dandy changing table, but that’s it. If you need to set anything besides a baby down in there, you’re shit out of luck, so to speak. I needed to put the soiled outfit in the sink, but the sink was covered by the diaper bag. I knew there were plastic bags in the diaper bag, but it was across the room and if I let go of Kaitlyn I knew she’d make more of a mess. I decided to start with the mess. I took off her diaper and started the cleanup effort. Once satisfied that she would not be able to smear crap on anything else, I decided to look for a bag.

It's a shame I was alone in there with just Kailtyn. What followed would have been a great magic act. I felt like Bullwinkle trying to pull a rabbit out of my hat. I pulled out clothing for a blizzard, clothing for a day at the pool, a formal outfit in case a spontaneous wedding took place at the cash register, a rubber duck, a bath tub, a flashlight, freeze dried ice cream, and a blender, because you never know when you’ll want a margarita. There was not one single plastic bag, at least not that I could find.

Meanwhile back at the changing table, Princess Poopy Pants decided to pee, soiling herself (again) and all of the accessories I was using to change her. So now I have a soiled child, a soiled changing table, and no place but the toilet or the sink to put her while I clean things up. To top it off, I still had a poopy outfit and no place to put it. I was up shit creek without any plastic bags. In a balancing act worthy of the big top, I managed to get the child—and myself—cleaned up. But I learned my lesson.

Daddy and Kaitlyn had a lunch appointment yesterday afternoon with some neighbors. Since mommy had to work, it was finally my turn to decide what was worthy of the magic diaper bag. I took out the spare tire, the encyclopedias, and the army meal rations and packed only what was necessary for the two hour outing to a restaurant. Not only could I find everything, the bag actually fits in the car now.

This is the first weekend mommy has worked both Saturday and Sunday, which made daddy’s weekend chores a little more of a chore to complete, especially with a lunch date. The top priority this weekend was the yard: the back yard needed some fill dirt, the side yard had a broken sprinkler pipe, and the front yard needed to be mowed and trimmed lest we get a nastygram from the HOA Nazis. By the time mommy left for work Sunday afternoon, daddy was way behind schedule. The dirt was done and most of the beer was gone but that was all. To make matters worse, Kaitlyn did not get her morning or afternoon nap. Add that to the 95 degrees plus the 45% humidity and the afternoon was heading downhill fast.

After a quick trip to Home Depot, Kaitlyn hung in there for the sprinkler repair, but then she started getting fussy. Half of my garage was out on the driveway, dirt needed to be swept up, and Kaitlyn was sitting in her stroller in the garage wailing like an air raid siren. Neighbors were coming outside and, upon hearing the commotion staring at me as if I was unaware of the squealing noise leaking out into the cul-de-sac. I did my best to get everything cleaned up and put away so I could bring the poor abused child inside to scream and be miserable. I finally got her down for an afternoon nap and the rest of the evening went quite well.

About twenty minutes ago mommy came home. I heard the garage door open and saw Hallie scramble to find a present. Then the phone rang. It was my wife.

“Would you like me to leave your car outside tonight? There’s a stroller in your parking spot.”

Dammit. In all the chaos of fixing the sprinklers, sweeping the dirt, putting away the tools, absorbing nasty stares from the neighbors, and bringing the screaming child back in the house, I forgot to move the stroller out from the middle of the garage. Touché

But she was still on the phone.

“Do I need to come out there and move it?” I asked.

“Are you busy?” she replied.

No, now that I think about it, I think it’s my turn anyway.

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