As you might have gathered, Eli and I survived the weekend unscathed. We didn’t do what I threatened Misty with, namely, sitting around with me in my boxers and Eli in his diaper, grunting at sports on TV. Instead we did pansy things like bake brownies and go to the library and stomp around in rain puddles.
A few years before Eli was born, one of Misty’s acquaintances said something like, “I could never leave my kids with their dad. He’s hopeless. He’d let them fall down the stairs and kill themselves.” We swore that wasn’t going to be the case with us, if for no other reason than we didn’t have stairs in our house. But I was going to be able to take care of Eli by myself.
Then Eli came and we discovered how hard that was. Misty was his primary care-giver for reasons of biology and circumstance. It took time before she felt comfortable leaving him with me, and I felt helpless because I didn’t know all of his signals. Why is he crying? Is he hungry? Is he mad? ARE THERE EVIL SPIRITS IN HIM? And Misty’s inclination was to take him from me and deal with him, because she understood him and could fix what was wrong quickly.
(Before you’re a parent, you wonder about things like, “Why can’t parents just wash their hands so they don’t catch colds from their kids?” and “How hard can it be to stay friends with people after you have a kid — just because you’re a parent doesn’t mean your life’s over!” Afterwards, you think, “I was an idiot.”)
I eventually became better at keeping Eli, enough that Misty was willing to leave him with me for extended periods of time. And by this time I knew what to do: have a whole lot of activities lined up so you can keep your kid from becoming bored and can run him to exhaustion. It worked like a charm!
I did have one moment of panic. I was on the phone with Andrew and Joy, who had called to make sure I hadn’t burned down the house. Eli was measuring things with a small six-inch ruler. “The door is seventy inches long. This lamp is seventy inches long. The carpet is seventy inches long.” He climbed up on the guest bed, said, “Watch this!” and proceeded to fall back onto the bed. His head missed the headboard by less than an inch.
Hey, dad, remember when you took me to your office and I got acquainted with your typewriter? Now I truly know how you felt.