I was not the greatest dad in history. I guess I could have played a few less pranks on the kids but who knew. Now I’m 66 and my two sons, Sam and Austin, have kids of their own so I am trying to make amends. The youngest, Sam, lives close which made it fairly easy but the oldest, Austin, has been a challenge. He was a military man and didn’t start having kids until he was in his thirties. I started the amends process when his wife was pregnant with their first child. My son had it all figured out, at least that’s what he told me.
“My kids will never get away with that,” he said, “and I won’t spank them because I won’t have to.” The list goes on.
That trip did not go so well, in fact it took me five years to get invited back. Here are a few highlights from my return trip.
Diaper Battle Drill
The boy, their youngest, almost two, didn’t like being in a dirty diaper, in fact when he finished going number two he would say “Poopy” then immediately stick his hand down his diaper and grab a handful. He quickly realized the feces on his hand could be used as a weapon and he chased his sister around until the dog licked his hand clean. His folks got organized, before long and the word “Poopy” initiated a sequence of events that my platoon sergeant in Vietnam would have been proud of.
There were six packages of baby wipes stashed throughout the house, all above shoulder level, out of reach of any menacing children. As soon as the boy said Poopy anyone that heard repeated it out loud to insure everyone knew. The adult closest to the baby moved in and secured his hands while the other adult went for the wipes. Once the hands were secure the announcement “wipes” was shouted and a package of wipes went flying across the house. I timed it once; the boy had a fresh diaper in thirty two seconds. Men weren’t excluded from diaper changes like they were back in my day. In fact I was trained then evaluated every time I had to participate. I am not sure I passed judgment.
The Dog and the Diaper
Another ‘poopy’ sounded and less than a minute later a balled up diaper was ready for disposal. This time my granddaughter wanted to help. She grabbed the diaper and headed for the kitchen. About an hour later I said “What’s that smell?” Everyone looked at the boy, Johnson, their German Sheppard was licking his face, he was laughing, no signs of trouble. “What did you do with that diaper?” Austin asked his daughter. Her eyes started shifting, “um…,” was all she could come up with. We walked into the kitchen, the diaper did not make it to the trash apparently crayons were more important. The dog had pulled the diaper apart, scattered it on the floor, ate most of the contents and was licking the boy’s face. I couldn’t help but laugh, which was not appreciated.
Diner came and the tiny man didn’t like the evening’s dish. There were loud screams followed by a flying pepperoni. “NO,” Austin said, pointing his finger at the child. The boy’s face lit up as he pinched another pepperoni, slowly lifting it, moving it toward the edge of his tray. He was staring at his dad, threatening to drop the pepperoni on the floor. “Don’t do it,” Austin said staring back. The boy’s eyes narrowed as his fingers spread, releasing the pepperoni. Austin jumped out of his chair thrusting it backward into the wall, making a loud bang. “NO,” he said again louder this time. He was less than an inch away from his son’s face holding his tiny hand, staring hard. This is it, I thought, I was about to see him back out of the ‘I won’t spank’ promise. Then the little fella’s bottom lip stuck out and his eyes welled up with tears. Austin backed down, he melted with the tears. He picked up his chair, sat down and started eating again. Moments later another pepperoni was hanging over the tray, tears rolling down the boy’s cheeks. “He’s all yours dad,” my son said walking out.
The Joke was on him. I just let the boy throw all his food on the floor and gave him crackers and candy. Then I let Johnson eat everything off the floor. I didn’t know it at the time but people food gives Johnson diarrhea. The next morning Johnson was begging to get out and spinning in circles when he couldn’t hold it anymore. He blew doggy diarrhea all over my son’s pant legs and shoes. Small victories you know, that’s what keeps an old man like me going.
Who knows, maybe it won’t take five years to get invited back.
Response to the Weekly Writing Challenge: The best medicine