By Gregory Keer
I wake up early. My three-year-old is still asleep. So, I see my wife off to work and hit the home office. I figure I have another 10 minutes before parenting duty.
Three minutes later, my son pads in, wearing his feetsie pajamas and clutching his Big Babba blanket. “Can I use the computer,” he asks groggily. With one hour to get him to day care, I must factor in his diversionary tactics. This and my own minute-by-minute evaluation of “am I a good father?”
“Let’s try going to the potty,” I suggest instead of playing Dora the Explorer. “Just one minute,” he reasons. We play for five. I finally get him excited enough about wearing Buzz Lightyear underwear that he agrees to leave the iMac.
We hit the bathroom, where he pushes me away and takes two minutes to unzip his PJs. He sits. He pees. All over the floor. He forgot to point himself into the toilet. I use a perfectly clean towel to abate the mess. Forty-five minutes to go.
We’re almost at the breakfast table when he remembers we have a TV. “I want the Bob the Builder tape,” he chirps. “How about half of Bob,” I half implore. “OK,” he says. I am caught off-guard by the easy agreement.
I recover and get him his “dragon juice” and a vitamin. “Sit next to me,” he asks. I sit. Ten minutes elapse and I call out the one-minute warning. He ignores me. Another minute and I announce TV termination. He ignores me. I turn off the TV. He freaks.
“Two more minutes! Two more minutes,” he screams. “One more minute,” I say. “One more minute and then I eat breakfast and then I finish Bob,” he counters. “Maybe,” I say. This is a child who could maneuver a sports agent under the table.
From here, I have 30 minutes. We eat breakfast, but not without trying three different cereals, Daddy’s soy milk and regular milk, and several variations on sitting.
I conveniently forget about finishing Bob and we move to the dress-up phase. I attempt to give him two choices, but he wants the khaki shorts. “They’re dirty,” I say. He cries. I collect my breath. Frustration leads to anger. We do not want anger.
I get him to grumpily agree to the attire. Then, he dallies about the room, pulling toys off shelves, and laughing as I chase him with the pants. He jumps on my back and kisses my cheek. I laugh, letting my guard down for a precious moment. We’ve got 4 more minutes…
We get to the door. “I have to go potty,” he stalls. Back to the toilet, where nothing happens. We get out the door. We go back inside. “Silly Daddy. You forgot my backpack.” We get in the car. We cannot leave until I give him two mints. We finally drive to day care, six minutes late.
After dropping him off, I sit alone in the driver’s seat. All of my frustration melts away as I try to make out his figure through the screened window of the day care. He is laughing, playing with his friends. An independent person. And I can’t wait for the next morning of craziness.