Monday, November 9, 2009

Four down, 7 to go

Do you know what the difference between mommies and daddies is?

It's that mommies use a variety of psychological weapons (from guilt to threatening to the intricate bonds of love) to help make their children into fully functional adults. It takes many years, it's very tricky business, and it requires the mother to give a lot of her time and emotional resources to do.

It looks really hard.

Daddies, on the other hand, just use daddy magic. You can solve any problem with daddy magic, quickly and easily. There's a reason that Santa Claus is a man, you know. No woman could whisk up a chimney by touching her nose, to say nothing of jiggling her tummy like a bowlful of jelly.

Here's an example: say you're cooking and a piece of eggshell ends up in the mix. What do you do?

Well, if you're a mommy, you get a spoon and you laboriously work with the eggs to fish out the offending piece of shell. It takes time, and effort, and you end up with one more thing to wash.

But with the power of daddy magic, you know that you can leave the eggshell in. Why? Because it's all healthy, baby! The only real reason to not put the whole egg in is because the shell touched the chicken's butt and you don't want it in your food. Otherwise eggshell is practically health food! And with the power of daddy magic and a hot oven and nobody watching you, that eggshell can stay right in the mix.

Problem solved!

This morning I awoke practically suffused with daddy magic. And I needed it, too, because the children were playing their favorite game: "I'll answer a question not meant for me."

After I got up and showered, I got the children out of bed and told them to get dressed. Amidst much grumbling and fumbling, they rolled out of their beds like zombies arising from the grave.

"Don't forget to brush your hair!" I yelled at the girl.

"Dad, I don't have any hair!" yelled the boy.

"I meant your sister!" I said.

"I'm in the bathroom!" she yells at me.

"Well, do it when you get out!" I yell back.

"I'm not in the bathroom!" the boy yells to me.

And on, and on, and on, until I'm dreaming of sticking their bodies in a crawl space and running off to Monaco. Not that I'd ever do such a thing.

Mostly because our rented house is crawlspace-free, and I'll be darned if I'm going to put one in and increase the property value for the landlord (see a related discussion of the hot water heater).

Also, the cost of living in Monaco is way too high. Now Sweden, that's an ideal relocation spot, except for the crappy weather and all the Swedes. Oh, and the language, which sounds just like the Swedish chef. Orgis-borgis humby-bumby!

So I finally got them up, dressed, and fed, which was no mean feat. Being a proactive father, I'd already made their lunches for today, so all I had to do was get them to put all their school stuff together so we could leave. Think of it like preparing your spell components before you go into combat.

(That's geek-talk, by the way, so be thankful if you don't understand it)

The girl finished packing her backpack with homework, lunch, and swim bag, and had a nice, neat, slim, trim, pack.

Meanwhile the boy is hopping up and down on his backpack like something out of a 50's cartoon trying to jam all his crap in there, and it's swelling up, and when he finally gets it closed it's swollen and the zippers are straining like fat Jared's from Subway's pants.

"Does your backpack always look like that?" I ask.

"Oh, yeah, don't worry," he says. "It's not a problem."

I have my doubts. I think Wifey would have mentioned if his backpack looked like a tick stuck on an artery. But you know what? He could lift it, so by the power of daddy magic, I declare this problem solved!

But I swear I don't know what he took to school today that he should have left home. And further, I don't want to know. So by the power of daddy magic, I declare this not my problem!

See how powerful daddy magic is? From using Hold Person to freeze a child to Power Word Kill on spiders to Bibgy's Offensive Fart, daddies have got all the power in a family thanks to the might of daddy magic.

Finally we head for the door and as she passes, the girl's hair takes a snap at me, and I look down on her head and I see a nest ready to harbor the entire Christmas song: three calling birds, four French hens, and a partridge in a pear tree.

"Did you brush your hair like I asked?"

The boy stamps furiously and yells "FOR THE MILLIONTH TIME, I DON'T HAVE HAIR!"

With an ego like that, the boy will go far. Perhaps even the presidency someday.

"Of course I did," the girl said in her best condescending voice.

For a brief moment, the psychic specter of Wifey appeared in the room, staring down on us gravely and shaking her head. Wherever she was, she was having an out-of-body experience and telling me, in her best Jor-El way, that this was not the way that things were meant to be.

But you know what? Using the power of daddy magic, I dispelled the specter and declared this not a problem!

"Okay," I shrugged. "Whatever."

I'm telling you, I'm at least a tenth-level dad.

(That's more geek talk, by the way)

So I loaded them into the car and we were off to drop them at the house of the nice lady who is taking them to school while Wifey is away.

In the backseat, I hear one of them whisper to the other one "He's a lot easier than mommy. He didn't even make me put on socks!"

You know what? I engaged my daddy magic to cast cone of silence around myself, and after that just didn't pay any more attention.

Once I'd dropped them off, it was off to work. And you know what I found out?

Daddy magic has its limits. See, I was thrilled because instead of drinking lukewarm roach feces as coffee today at home, I could drink from the coffee machine at work. It's got all kinds of choices: coffee, expresso, mocaccino, the works! Only today it was broken, for the first time ever. Do you know why?

It was out of water.

Now, really, I live in a country where it rains 300 days a year. There was water in the water fountain, the toilets, and the parking lot. Why wasn't there any water in the coffee machine?

I don't know, but it made me want to take the day off. So in protest I fiddled around on the Internet all day and didn't get anything accomplished.

(Technically, this is very similar to what I normally do, but never mind about that)

Sometime during the day I got an angry e-mail about one of the children not wearing socks in cold weather, but I used the powerful daddy magic spell Forward to send it on to Wifey so she could worry about it next week.

Unfortunately, my mini-vacation from the children ended, and it was time to go pick the savage little monsters up. We came home and, the specter of Mommy hanging over us like a cloud of doom, obediently checked the schedule for what we were supposed to eat: chicken nuggets.

Now, when Wifey left (about six weeks ago, if I reckon correctly) I remember her nattering something about how she didn't have time to get us chicken nuggets and I'd have to go buy them.

Like that's going to happen. I don't even know where the grocery store is. The only store I know the location of is the flammable stuff store, where you can buy gas, firewood, hard liquor, and porn. It's within walking distance of the house, which is good, because often I like to stroll over there and partake of one or more of those items before coming home.

Given that, we needed to go off-list. I informed the children of this eventuality.

"I'm not hungry," the girl said. "I'll go without."

"I want some more tuna casserole," the boy said. "But I'm going to wait over here near the exit while you make it in case there's trouble."

So we compromised: leftover casserole for me and the boy, cold hot dogs for the girl. Hey, don't laugh, it was a major coup: both children got something that they loved. I promised them that I'd use my daddy magic to keep the terrible curse of mommy at bay and get us through dinner without any problems at all.

As we ate, peacefully, the boy looked at me, and he said (and I swear I am not making this up):

"You know what, daddy? When you're gone, and mommy's here, things are hard. But when mommy's gone, and you're here, things are easy. And when you're both here, things are kind of medium."

My heart swelled with pride. This, from the boy who once told me he couldn't wait until I died and mommy married a new, better daddy. This from the boy who once told mommy he wished he were bigger so he could beat me up. This from the boy who comes into my room, checks to see if I'm breathing, and says "darn" when I am.

I'm his favorite parent! Let's hear it for the awesome power of daddy magic! I think I've gained at least two levels thanks to Wifey's trip! I must be up to Sorcerer by now!

(Please pardon the excessive geekiness of the preceding sentence)

But of course I needed to hear it in full, so probed for the ultimate payoff, the phrase that I could use to gloat and demean Wifey for the rest of our marriage together:

"What do you mean by that?" I asked.

"It means he likes you better than mom," the girl said.

"No it doesn't!" he said. "It means that since he doesn't know any of the rules or how to do anything we can get away with whatever we want! I haven't changed my underwear in days and days and days."

And with that he dumped milk all over my plate trying to do a fist-bump with me.

Little SOB! I showed him who was boss: he spent the rest of the night practicing doing his handwriting while I harangued him about his poor attitude. His lettering ended up fairly smeared with his tears.

I swear, where do they get this attitude? I'm all about respect and treating other people justly. I never do or say bad things! Kids these days. It's the TV, that's what it is, all right.

Finally, utterly humiliated, I sent the children to bed, ignoring the bickering and trail of toothpaste in the hallway to come upstairs and type out this summary of my day before crawling off to bed for another horrifying night here in Death House.

I feel drained, as if I've lost several experience levels from the chill touch of the Specter of Wifey, reaching out to punish me for not eating the chicken nuggets like I was supposed to or some other obscure violation of some rule that I never even knew existed, like how children are supposed to wear socks or something.

I'll tell you this much: if she thinks I'm going to water her plants she's fooling herself, that's for darn sure. Even so, I think I'll check the list to see if there's anything I need to pick up on my way home tomorrow.

You know, just in case.

Four down, seven to go.

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