Sunday dawned clear and cold, and I knew exactly two things: I was now 24 hours away from having Wifey back, and somebody was breathing on the back of my neck at 7:00 in the morning.
I quickly came to the only logical conclusion (some kind of Freddy Kreuger/Jason Voorhees Frankenstein hybrid thing come to eat my flesh and steal my soul) and karate chopped behind me without looking.
"OW! What did you do that for?"
It was the girl.
"Sorry, honey," I said. "But what in heaven's name were doing behind me breathing on me?"
Her eyes brimmed with tears as she looked at me. "Waiting for you to get up."
Oh, great, now one of them is gonna go weepy. "What's the matter?" I asked.
"What if mommy never makes it home because she misses her airplane and we have to live without her forever?"
"Well, she'd be happy," I said. "Because she doesn't like it here. And I'd probably marry a new wife, perhaps in her twenties, and have a bunch more kids who I'd like better than you two, and your life would become like some sort of nightmarish fairy tale only without the hope of having a fairy godmother come rescue you."
Note: such satirical wit is largely lost on fragile nine-year-olds at seven in the morning. Or at least, judging from the 20 minute crying jag she went on it is.
Once I'd finally gotten her somewhat settled I had the difficulty of peeling her off of me long enough to go to the bathroom, shower, and shave. Each time she sat right outside the door, blocking it, and forced me to speak to her every few seconds so that she could verify that I was, indeed, still here.
And you know how I said that haggis enters your stomach like a ton of bricks falling off a skyscraper? It leaves as easily as a drunk at an open bar, and having to respond to questions every ten seconds doesn't help you build up the head of steam that you need to finally expiate the problem.
So we went downstairs and had breakfast, and then got cleaned up and dressed for church. We had to leave early, since I had stuff to do there, and there was much scurrying around collecting our stuff as the girl peppered me with questions and grabbed ahold of my leg and generally kept me close at hand at all times.
When we jumped in the car I threw it into gear and was ready to tear off up the driveway when I glanced in the mirror.
"Where's your brother?" I asked.
The girl looked next to herself, then at me. "I don't know. I haven't seen him all morning."
I replayed the entire morning in my head: get up, get pestered by girl, try to make my body a haggis-free zone, drink a cup of swill that passes for coffee, get dressed…
Oh shit! I never got the boy up!
So I ran inside, saying a string of dirty words as the girl chased after me yelling "Daddy! Don't go!"
Upstairs, in the boy's bed, he's completely comatose, laying in bed in his underwear.
"Get up!" I yelled. "We've gotta go! Now! Come on!"
"You leave him alone!" the girl shouts. "It's not his fault!"
"Dad, I'll get up in a minute," he groans and turns over.
I dragged him out of bed (no mean feat, since he's in the top of a bunkbed) and get him dressed. The whole time he's complaining up a storm about how he doesn't want to get up and the girl is clinging to my leg like some kind of demented pekignese and I'm trying not to dissolve into copious swearing.
"Come on! Let's go!"
"I've gotta go to the bathroom!" he says. "Just wait a minute!"
Time stops as he goes into the bathroom. I hear the jeopardy music in my ears as he's in there with the door closed with absolutely no sound.
"Oh, great," he finally says.
"What's the matter?"
"I have a problem!"
"No toilet paper? Need a book? Do you have diarrhea? What is it?"
"Somebody pee'd all over the floor again," he said. "And this time they pee'd all over my pants, too!"
I really should have gone back to bed at this point.
Much later in the day we made it home from church. The girl had a birthday party to go to, but she announced the moment we walked into the house that she didn't want to go to it.
"Why not?" I asked. "You'll have fun."
"Because you'll not be there," she said. "And I miss mommy. Can I please stay home?"
"No, you need to go," I said.
"Yeah," the boy said. "Beat it so dad and I can have some quality time together."
"Well can I take the cell phone and call you every few minutes?"
"You lost it," I pointed out.
"I didn't lose yours," she said. "Can I take it instead?"
"Yeah, that's a great idea. Then you can lose both of them."
I finally convinced her to leave, and so she did, with another parent taking her to the party (it would be my job, in three hours, to pick her up).
"Do you really want to spend quality time together?" I asked the boy.
"Nah, I just wanted her to go away," he said. "I'm gonna go play DS."
So what did I do?
Like a good husband, in preparation for Wifey's return, I vacuumed the floor, put some fresh flowers on the table, set out the children's "welcome home" cards that I'd had them make, set up the Skype webcam that she'd been asking about for the last six months, cleaned the dishes, washed the laundry, and downloaded copious amounts of porn.
Hey, I said "good" husband, not "great" husband.
Finally the time came to collect the girl, so I loaded the boy into the car and headed into the city.
I think it's great that people have parties for their children at their house. If you can stand it, it's much more practical than renting something. And I endeavor to make sure that my child goes to other parties, and doesn't just go to her own, because people who throw birthday parties for their own children but who don't make sure their children attend parties are assholes who are just in it to take presents from everybody else and deserve to get butt rot.
Having said that, people who live at the intersection of eight tiny little cobblestone one-way roads in the middle of an old city that was laid out by a syphilitic sociopath which is impossible to reach and takes about six sanity points just to navigate to should probably pick a different venue for their party.
Getting there was pure, unadulterated hell.
When I arrived to collect the girl (and her best friend, since the best friend's mom had dropped them off) I discovered that they'd had their faces painted and that they had made a "balloon family."
Every real parent hates balloons. Not only do they choke babies and animals (but never the animals you want to choke, like the cat that keeps getting into the garbage can and pooping on the front step), but children inevitably leave them scattered all over the house, forget about them, and then come looking for them the minute after you pop the balloon and throw it away.
That's when they don't pop it in their face and recoil in terror and start acting like they've had to amputate their own arm with a rusty hacksaw.
So in our house we have a simple rule: if I can find the balloon, I can pop it and throw it away and nobody has the right to complain.
So the nine balloon head people family were coming out to the car with us, and when I asked the girl whose they were she pointed to her friend and said "hers."
Whew! Crisis averted.
When I dropped the other girl off, though, suddenly the story changed: only one of the balloon people left my car, and the others went home with me.
Stupid birthday party.
When we got inside, I reminded the girl of the rule: if I find 'em, I'll pop 'em. She scurried upstairs to hide them.
Now it was time for dinner. I checked the list (and hoped that tomorrow the spell would be broken) and found that we were supposed to have…OUT.
Oh, joyous OUT! That means we can eat anything we want!
Only, it's raining and cold and I don't want to walk down to the square and get something and I certainly don't want to hassle with getting everyone dressed and going out somewhere.
So I offered this deal to the children: if they'd eat in tonight, then when mommy got back we'd strongarm her into going out to eat with us this week.
The boy quickly agreed, but the girl put up more of a fight, arguing that we couldn't violate the list, that she really wanted to go out, and all sorts of other nonsense. But ultimately I prevailed.
"So what do you want?" I asked.
"McDonald's," the boy said.
"You can't have that, that would be out."
"But I'll eat it in," he said.
"Well, pick again."
"First you desert me this morning, and now you won't even get me what I want for dinner. I'm glad mommy's coming back tomorrow."
"Me too," I said. "What do you want?"
"Peanut butter," he said.
"And you?" I asked the girl.
"Just a bowl of carrots," she said. "I had too much candy at the party."
And for me, you ask? A six-pack of beer about two minutes after they went to bed, plus copious amounts of porn.
Much, much latter I staggered into my room to go to bed. I had kept the lights to a minimum since they were in bed, and all I could think about was how the next morning I got to go collect Wifey at the airport.
I jerked aside the covers and THERE WAS A SEVERED HEAD IN MY BED!
I let out a blood-curdling shriek and jumped back. It was clear: the spirits of the house had finally made their move, and soon I would die!
I'm not ashamed to admit that, like the poor SOB in the Godfather, the sight of a head in my bead left me incapable of controlling my bodily functions.
The children came running, of course, woken from their slumber by my frantic cries.
"What? What?" they yelled. All I could do was point.
"That's where that is!" the girl said. "I knew I lost one, but I couldn't remember where." And she plucked her lost balloon family member out of my bed.
"YOU STUCK A FUCKING BALLOON HEAD IN MY BED? WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU???"
"Geez, dad, it's not a big deal," the boy said. "I found two in my bed."
"I wanted them to be comfortable!" she pouted. "Mommy would have understood!" And she ran off crying.
"Go to your room!" I yelled.
I collapsed into bed. I don't know what happened to the boy, and I don't want to know. All I remember after that is that I uttered a slurred prayer as I drifted off to sleep:
"Oh dear God, if for some reason my wife can't make it back tomorrow, please let me die in my sleep. Amen!"
Ten down, one to go.