And so, dear reader, we reach the end of day 1. The children are in bed, I'm sitting down at the computer, and Wifey's…well, I'm not so sure where Wifey is. Probably on a beach getting suntan oil rubbed on her back or something.
Before she left, Wifey made this really complex menu for us, an exhaustive calendar of the children's activities, and a list of when her plants need to be watered.
(Quick note for any plantologists out there: does peeing on a plant count as watering it? Just let me know in the comments. Thanks!)
Personally, I admired her optimism.
"Are you sure you can handle this?" she said as we tearfully parted this morning at the airport.
"Pfft," I waved her off in disdain. "What could go wrong?"
I mean, come on: I outweigh the children by about a hundred pounds, I know both their names, and she gave me the bank card. Is some situation that I can't handle going to come up? I sincerely doubt it. I mean, I'm not Ward Cleaver or anything, but I'm certainly better than Homer Simpson.
So I hopped in my company car and drove to work, not even pausing to see if she could struggle the suitcase into the terminal. If she needs help, she'll hail a skycap or give up or something. For all I know she's gonna spend the next week hiding out in the Airport Sheraton or something.
(Digression: ironically enough, my company car is the car she uses, while I drive around in "her" car, because the car I bought for myself began hemorrhaging oil and had to be retired the same week I finally qualified for a company car. Let's hear it for dumb luck!)
At three, it was time to pick the little darlings up from school. So I zipped on over there, parked up near the football field, and made my way to the pickup room to get the boy (who, like a prisoner, must be paroled from school, unlike the girl, who wanders wild and free after school like a trustee with a weekend pass).
It was so dark that there were bats roosting in the light fixtures. A layer of dust had settled over everything. According to the clock on the wall, it was three thirty. But where were all the children?
After a bit of wandering around, I finally stumbled across a room with my child in it. I waved to him, and he didn't even acknowledge me before turning back to whatever it was he was working on over at the little table he was at.
I've been a father for nine years now, so I know exactly what the next step is: you go and noogie the child until he cries for mercy. And I was headed over to do exactly that when the room monitor, some little pencil-necked teacher's aide creep I'd never seen before in my entire life, stopped me.
"And who are you here to pick up?" he said, looking at me like I was some kind of kidnapper.
"That one," I said.
"Can I see your ID?" he asks me. So I flash the guy my ID. Take that, pencil-necked wannabe grown-up hall monitor!
"That's not you," he sniffed.
Oh, crap. Upon further review, it wasn’t me. It was Wifey's ID, since I'd just grabbed it out of my car, which is actually Wifey's car, while my proper ID was in her car, which is actually my car. So I tried to just play it off.
"But…you know her, right?" I asked. "I'm her husband. It's not like I jumped her in the parking lot and murdered her and stuffed her in the boot of the car and now I'm trying to pick up her children to sell them…"
Have you ever been about 30 words into a sentence and realized that what you just said was horribly inappropriate, verbalized in the wrong place, and overheard by six or seven strangers?
Yeah, me too.
So they're all looking at me and I pull my hands out of my pockets to prove that I'm not standing there "jingling my keys" or wearing those Freddy Kreuger razor gloves or whatever when the boy finally comes over.
"Okay dad," he says. "We can go now. I finished making you a paper gun. Here." And he hands me this paper gun that he's folded up. "See, I drawded some blood on the barrel just the way that you suggested, here and here," he says. "Where's mommy? Did you get rid of her already?"
"Let's just go," I say as everyone icily stares at me. "We've gotta go find your sister, okay?"
The teacher's aide squats down to talk to the boy. "You know, if you ever don't feel comfortable, you can always talk to a grownup here at the school. You know that, right?"
"Yeah," the boy says. "But daddy says if I don't feel comfortable I should just try to fart it out and as long as it doesn't stain my underwear there's no problem."
"What a delightful child," one of the women says as she stares daggers at me.
Oh, well, they were probably bitches anyways.
Then we went out into the playground to find the girl. Once I'd gotten ahold of her (easier said than done; she nearly knocked me over tackling me from behind) I got out of there ASAP.
When we got home, I checked the food schedule: pizza. Well, that could mean anything. For example, there could be frozen pizza, only I didn't find any. It could mean that I have to make pizza from a box, but that simply isn't going to happen. It could mean that I should order pizza, which sounds great.
Only, I just got over a cold, and whenever I have a head cold they always settle in my voice box and I can't talk right for two or three days. So I have this completely scratchy, bizarre voice. I couldn't order food on the phone in English, much less in the foreign language required to have anything here.
So I made the executive decision to damn the torpedoes and eat whatever we please for dinner later. The children, duped easily, quickly agreed. Freedom, thy name is bachelorhood!
But before dinner we have to go to their Friday activity, gymnastics. So I bundled them into the car and off we went to Little Gym. I, personally, couldn't wait. Every week they have a different theme at the gym, and this week is my personal favorite: pajama week.
As I always joke with Wifey, I keep hoping that one of the firm-bodied young instructor women will come to work in a tight little red negligee or something.
Sadly, this never happens. We have one instructor in flannel armor, a dude wearing swim trunks and a shirt, and a new girl that they've never had before wearing hot pink flannel pants.
Oh, well, better luck next year.
So the kids do their gymnastics thing, and I pull out my laptop to start writing this very post. And you know what? Battery's dead. So I get to watch the kids doing gymnastics.
And the only thing more boring than watching them do the same gymnastics routine I've seen for the past five years coached by a dude in swimtrunks and two refugees from the flannel factory is…I'll get back to you on that.
But of course, this week we had a big surprise in store for us: they were filming!
Yay! That means we get to go inside the big gymnastics room and watch the film! Oh, boy! Then spend several minutes watching the film of what we just saw! Hooray!
And do you know what the best part is? Do you?
I bet you don't!
This gym is used by children all week! In Europe! And it's Friday! And it's the last class of the day!
And it smells like a bunch of dirty Frenchmen had a rotten-egg food fight but were interrupted by some skunks and then the sanitation department buried them all in the refuse from a stinky cheese factory/papermill warehouse!
I will admit that I don't know the Geneva Convention rules by heart, but I'm fairly certain my human rights were violated having to sit in that room and be assaulted by that smell.
Thankfully, mercifully, eventually the tape was over and we went home and immediately started making dinner, since we were all hungry. For the children, peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and for daddy some microwave rice stuff that I love.
Being in a playful mood, I decided to play a joke on the boy. So I got out the strawberry jam to make his sandwich, then I threw a red plastic cup at him to make him think I'd thrown him the jam jar, so that when the cup bounced plastically off the floor he'd freak out and we'd all have a big laugh.
Instead, it hit him in the eye and he started swearing like a wounded pirate. His sister screamed, thinking the jelly was falling, and dove for it, knocking me to the ground and dropping the glass full of milk she was holding, shattering it everywhere and giving me a milk shower in the process.
I think there are glass shards in my underwear now.
After much crying and recriminations (and a not-so-satisfying dinner), we resolved never to go off-list again. Apparently mommy has cursed the house.