Ever seen one of those comedies where circumstances force an Alpha male, guy's guy to be thrown into a situation where for some reason or another he has to care for kids. In the beginning he's usually way over his head, trying to cope by employing tactics absurd to any woman, but by the end he's in control of the situation and the kids adore him.
Not the stuff of great cinema, but some of the more "well-known" films have produced some great scenes and one-liners. I mean Michael Keaton drying a baby's bottom by holding it up to the blow dryer in a men's room in Mr. Mom is classic. And thanks to Arnold Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop, "It's not a bwain tumah" is now a part of the American lexicon.
But for the most part, these types of films are silly. And totally inaccurate...or are they?
A couple of weeks ago, I woke up at 4:10 a.m. I was confused: Niko was whimpering in the hallway, and Kelly was in the boys' bathroom. Let's face it, I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed at that hour, so it took me a minute to figure out what was going on: Niko had bumped his head on his bed; Kelly was sick.
Thus started the plot of my own Mr. Mom / Kindergarten Cop.
Comforting Niko wasn't a problem. But then he decided he was hungry. Or as he put it, "I want some food." Now that's pretty general. My every attempt to get him to be more specific fell on deaf ears...and tried my still tired patience. Finally, he landed on an apple.
Half asleep, I made him sit at the table as I cored and sliced an apple, all the while he continued to whimper. Taking a half-hearted bite of apple, he started crying again, and frankly in a moment that won't win me Father of the Year, I barked, "If you're going to keep crying, go downstairs!"
9 out of 10 kids would have shut up. But not Niko. He headed for the stairs. Now I may not be the best dad, but I'm not a monster; I immediately picked him up and asked him where he really wanted to go. To my surprise, he quietly asked to be taken to his bedroom.
With Niko in his bed (his bowl of apple clutched to his chest)I headed back to my room. But in the spot usually occupied by Kelly, I found Gus. He meekly asked if he could stay. Having used all my fortitude on the Niko/apple/basement battle, I relented and simply ordered Gus to keep control of his body if he expected to stay in my bed.
Telling a 7 1/2 year old boy to keep control of his sleeping body is a little like asking a tornado to stick to one mobile home in the trailer park. For the next three hours I was smacked, thwacked, and nearly beaten senseless by flailing arms and legs. But the worst was yet to come.
Morning found Kelly still barricaded in the bathroom, leaving me to get the boys ready and off to school.
I don't know if it was the authority or desperation in my voice but both boys immediately complied with my order to get dressed. (Well, Niko did after arguing for softer pants - don't ask.)
As the boys got dressed, I scrambled some eggs. I tossed the plates on the table and commanded them to eat while I took a shower. Gus meekly decided he didn't want eggs after all. I bellowed, "You know where the cereal is. But you'd both better be done by the time I get out of the shower."
To my amazement, when I finished in the bathroom, dressed and marched in to the kitchen, the two of them were sitting quietly at the table, their respective plate and bowl empty.
"Let's go!" I barked, and we headed toward the door. Just then, a quiet voice rang out from the bathroom, "Did you make their lunches?"
Crap. OK, so briefly I thought of giving them a ten-spot and telling Gus to call Jimmy Johns for a delivery. Then reality hit and I sprung into action, throwing together sandwiches, fruit, yogurts, chips. (Yum did you know little boys don't eat the same size lunches 40-something year old men do??)
With lunches in tow we were ready to roll. As I fetched my keys, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Niko running down the hallway. Confused, I looked around, perhaps hoping it had all been a mirage, but there were his shoes and socks tossed in the middle of the living room and no Niko. Before I could react, he came running back, carrying a different pair of socks, having decided that his earlier choice wasn't complimentary to his ensemble. Wisely, Gus sprung into action and helped his little brother put the socks on.
With this minor costume adjustment made, we jumped in the car. That's when it dawned on me: with Kelly still hold up in their bathroom, the boys hadn't brushed their teeth. Crap. I thought for a second then reached back and handed them each a stick of gum. It would have to do.
Amazingly, I got the boys to school and myself to the office. An hour later I received a text from Kelly, "I don't know who had a worse morning me or you?"
Actually, it could have been worse. It could have been a bwain tumah!