By Meredith O’Brien
Got a spouse who frequently goes away on fancy business trips, where he or she dines on steak, lobster and martinis wearing stylish duds, leaving you marooned with the kids?
Looking to get even?
Here are some suggestions from a work-from-home parent with experience at being left behind:
1. Call spouse’s cell phone in the early evening — the worst time of day for small children. Do not inquire whether it’s a convenient time for the spouse to speak on the phone. Have your grade school-aged son describe the absolutely saddest pictures you’ve ever seen him make: The self portrait of himself crying, with his face wedged between two hearts and a cartoon dialog balloon emerging from an exaggerated frown which reads simply, “Daddy.” The caption: “I miss U Daddy.”
2. Then have your grade school-aged daughter get on the phone to prattle on for about 15 minutes about who she thinks is the cutest professional baseball player and her thoughts on why, when she grows up, she should be a designated hitter playing in the American League. (“I don’t like to field,” she explains.)
3. While the conversation with your daughter is on-going, make no attempt to shield the phone from the noise of the mortal combat going on in the next room when the grade school-aged boy is punched (for no apparent reason, eyewitnesses confirm) by his younger brother. The eldest child then retaliated for the punch with a Tae Kwon Do sidekick to said younger sibling’s forehead resulting in a nice looking bump about the size of a quarter. Maybe a half dollar. There’s lots of yelling.
4. Grab the phone and — as you’re getting really wound up and ticked off because you’ve been parenting solo for days and the children have been maniac heathens practically shout a blow-by-blow report into the phone about what just occurred while the eldest son is sobbing in timeout in the corner of the kitchen after being informed that he’ll have to confess to his Tae Kwon Do instructor that he used a martial arts move to injure his sibling. Be sure to mention that the youngest child is whimpering in another part of the kitchen while he’s applying pressure to his wounded head with a cold cloth.
5. Sick the youngest one on the spouse by handing over the phone to him. Encourage the little child to tell Daddy all about what just happened (descriptions of which vary wildly from, “Jonah…just…just…BURST into the room and kicked me for no reason in the head…[*pause*]…yeah…after I punched him.”
6. Grab the phone again and insist that the spouse speak with the eldest son about not using Tae Kwon Do techniques on his brother and that he should’ve instead utilized his blocking techniques. (“But if I didn’t know what kind of punch he was going to throw. I couldn’t block it,” Ralph Macchio insisted.)
7. Make the Karate Kid explain to Daddy his version of what happened.
8. Get on the phone for the last time and regale spouse with the ins and outs of school politics, an upcoming children’s birthday party that may conflict with other familial obligations and then ask in as sarcastic a tone as you can muster, “So, where are YOU going to go for dinner tonight? Some swank restaurant?” after being sure to note how you ate the cold, congealed dregs of food from the children’s plates about 30 minutes ago and are still wearing sweat pants from the night before, while loudly uncorking a bottle of wine in close proximity to the receiver.
Not that you’re jealous or anything.
Meredith O’Brien is a freelance writer in the Boston area. She writes a parenting blog, the Boston Mommy Blog for the Boston Herald’s web site, and a pop culture blog for ClubMom. She is the author of the forthcoming book, A Suburban Mom: Notes from the Asylum . She can be reached at email@example.com .
Copyright © Meredith O’Brien 2006.