Dad of the Year

We decided relatively last-minute to visit my family this week and installed ourselves in their guest room last night at 1:30 in the morning, after a long roadtrip. This morning my husband took the kids out to look at real estate. He returned earlier than we thought and the kids tromped into the living room.

“Oh, did Daddy buy a house?” my mom asks my daughter.

“No, he was teasing me,” she says cheerfully. “He said I’d live in the van by myself. And I’d only eat dog biscuits and spiders.”

“And then I cried a little bit.” She concludes, evenly. (One might assume this is when the teasing stopped).

Ralph entrez, shamefaced we heard her testimony. Earlier this morning he deliberately terrified our son with a giant, creepy, papier-mâché black widow spider.

(Edited to add – two seconds ago, I hear my daughter ask Ralph: “Dad, are these pickles a little bit poisoned?” Should I be worried?)

woman when I get back to Georgia you gone feel my pain!

On my way to do bank errands and I forget the van is low on gas. Ridiculous, and I’ll tell you why: just to the upper right of the driver’s head, there is a cheesy computer readout that keeps you informed on a small selection of driving variables at the touch of a button – including navigational direction headed, outside temperature, gas mileage (average, trip average, and instantaneous), and – yes, miles left on the tank, including the warning, “Lo”. In previous vehicles I would get a sputter, I’d look down at my gauge, say, “Shit!” and find a gas station. In this vehicle, my digital readout silently warns me incessantly, yet somehow I miss it; when the vehicle decides it’s done, no splutter, no cough – the van DIES and the steering locks up. Inconvenient, no? I have run out of gas once (or less than once) in every vehicle I have owned previously; in my Ass-tro it has happened about a half dozen times. I honestly wonder at the genius of a vehicle that decides when you are out of fuel (mind you, according to the computer, not the actual gas I hear in the tank) it also decides you are not allowed to steer. Sometime someone’s going to have to explain the logic to me.

No wait, belay that order. I honestly don’t care.

So at the moment my vehicle dies and the steering locks up – WTF! – I grip the wheel and coast over to the shoulder, in front of the old folks’ home. A quick sigh of irritation (although I don’t care much, really), I grab my kids, pack them in coats, and head the block to the bank where I do my financial errands and phone my husband. He works only a couple blocks away so I ask him if he will fetch us a couple gallons of gas before meeting us for lunch (small-town life is really amazing – everything is within reasonable distance). Even though he’d planned to meet us anyway, I know in his busy schedule he’s going to be irritated with this fifteen-minute detour. The kids and I head back to the van, I buckle them in, and we watch as Ralph pulls up to the parking lot across the street, gas can in hand.

“Daddy’s mad at Mama,” I say to the kids. We watch him get out of the car. He doesn’t look mad, but I’m finding this funny.

“Why?” asks my daughter.

“Because I let the van run out of gas and now he has to help us. He’s mad. Maybe he’ll smack Mama.”

I hear the pause in my daughter’s thoughts – a mind that usually rattles along at a brisk clip. The possibility of Daddy whacking Mama? A beat, then she says decisively, “No he won’t.”

Nels: “In the face.”

I turn and look. He is smiling.

"6:57 PM: God, Kelly. Update your damn blog."

I have decided we either need to, Plan A, have one more blond and perfect baby – then sell it. Or, Plan B (because I think Plan A is illegal and I know it’s problematic due to my husband’s lack of fertility), find a way to downsize our life. And by “downsize our life” I mean get rid of a vehicle (my husband’s job requires him to travel so we probably will keep one for now), move into something smaller and out of town (perhaps the family vehicle!), this more modest abode maybe even requiring us to crap in a bucket and collect rainwater (Thanks K and T for your great ideas the other night!), and live like hippie scum.

My reasons are too myriad and tiresome (to me at least) to list here, and are not entirely financial. Although I wonder what it is about us Hogabooms that we can neither spend and live “within our means” like so many virtuous folk seem to do (or at least, like I’m led to believe they do), nor accept a high level of credit card debt like so many less virtuous (but arguably more typical) folk seem to do.

I can do it, though. I can do anything. If I can squat on the floor of my home and push out a baby, if I can convert my toddler and new baby to cloth diapers and be soaked in piss for two weeks as I figure it all out, if I can stop feeling sad I have crappy secondhand clothes and stinky four-year-old dyke martens, if I can accept the transition of working professional engineer to Houswife Nobody, if I can live with going from two incomes and no kids to two kids and one income, than I can surely go through all my stuff, cry real tears to let it go, and move into some goddamn shack. Can I live without a daily shower, without clean laundry, and without, dear God, without my Mac? I don’t really see how. But perhaps it is my fate.

I don’t know how to do it. I only know I (we) can. Except for thinking of living without my Mac. Anyway, I am this close to outfitting our van as a half-assed camper and parking somewhere.

Tonight my husband and I were gifted with tickets (ala his workplace) for “Dinner and A Murder” – the first annual – a $50 per plate benefit that, yes, involved a murder play “whodunit”. Which I’m proud to say I cracked the code for and came up with half the theory, and was only led astray because a member of the cast fucked up and LIED to our sleuthing group, but that’s another story. Unfortunately – in front of respected members of my husband’s employer, I said something about Ralph’s butt looking good in his pants – please understand I had not a drop of alcohol – and although I got some shocked looks, then uproarious laughter, and although I apologized for my random sexual harassment, I couldn’t help feeling like the girl I was several years ago had channelled herself through me but at least my tablemates seemed to like her.

on to me

Yesterday I invented a game whereby Sophie and I took turns pelting eachother with this horrific-looking and very realistic ape-like stuffed animal (our friend Neil got this for her, inexplicably, for her first birthday). She is laughing so hard she tells me she has to stop so she doesn’t pee her pants. She throws the monkey at me as hard as I can yet I catch it; she collapses onto the couch in an astonishingly small bundle. But I nail her with it, everytime. She screams, 90% pure glee, 5% terror, and 5% anger that I am Mama and more powerful and it will be this way for as long as she lives. Her telescoping strategy proving ineffective, she begins throwing the monkey at me then scrambling as fast as she can behind the couch. Where I of course corner her and send the creature missle-like directly down the cave she has sequestered herself in.

After dinner that night the monkey somehow re-emerges and the game starts again. After a few rounds Sophie hightails it downstairs, in fits of nervous giggles. Upstairs the family and our dinner guest settle a bit, while I tuck the monkey into the arm of the chair, fully planning revenge when she comes back upstairs. She stays in the other room and I cajole her to come out. Ten minutes go by and finally I say,

“Sophie… Sophie! Come on. I won’t throw the monkey anymore. I promise. I won’t throw it.”

A pause, then a cautious sing-song:

“Well, it kind of seems like you wi-ill… !”

maybe they need a little laudanum with their Froot Loops

Today I went to our County Library which has a very lovely preschooler story hour. There were so many friends and acquaintances there. Unfortunately for whatever reputation I may have, and for my own piece of mind, my kids were fucking savages while we were there. Nels sat for exactly two minutes, then wandered around fondling Mamas’ asses (accidentally, I hope), then found some wooden cars and skateboarded on them (quite well, actually. I may have to buy him a real skateboard). Sophie was great (if a little hyper) until the other parents and kids filed out of the room at the end of the event and she stopped in her tracks and yelled, “They’re leaving without me!” and threw her head back and her mouth opened into a big square and she HOWLED at the top of her lungs. I guess she wasn’t ready for fun-time to be over.

Hours later while at home I noticed she wasn’t wearing panties under her skirt. I wonder how many of the couple dozen PT Mama friends there today got an eyeful of Sophie’s punani.

These things made me laugh today:


and Me loves the Steve Carell. So much.