Sunday, June 19, 2005

Loving You Is Some Kind of Wonderful.

Because the rest of this is going to be a love letter to Consort, I feel we must begin by mocking him.

Last winter, I woke in the middle of the night to Daughter shouting “I don’t want to throw up!” which is her way of saying, “I am about to throw up!”

Consort slept.

I got in there just in time to witness the full digestive display. She burst into noisy tears. I comforted her while stripping the bed, whisked the sheets into the washer while carrying her, got her into the bathroom, cleaned her up, remade the bed, and popped her back under the clean linens.

Consort slept.

She said sweetly “I feel much better now.”

Since she was cool and her eyes were bright, I figured mild food poisoning was the culprit and went back to bed. Twenty minutes later, I was finally drifting off when…

“I don’t want to throw up!”

I arrived just in time for the second show, which involved the blanket as well as the sheets this time. I comforted Daughter, stripped bed, whisked sheets, started load of laundry, cleaned child, remade bed, popped her into it.

She said hopefully, “I think I feel better now.”

Consort…rolled over, mumbled and slept.

Food poisoning can only make you throw up twice, right? It’s amazing how stupid hope can make you. I actually went back to bed. Twenty-five minutes later, I was finally drifting off when…

(Sounds of vomiting and sobbing)

I staggered in to her room to discover that several children had snuck in through a window and thrown up with her; there was no way one kid could have done this much damage. Without getting too specific, her blankets, her hair and light fixtures were all involved somehow. I squared my shoulders and set to work.

I popped Daughter into the bathtub and filled it a few inches with warm water, stripped bed, put on her last set of sheets (which she hates, as Dora the Explorer’s face on her pillowcase is huge and appears ready to devour Daughter’s head, but we had no other options). Then I attacked nearly everything in her room with Murphy’s Oil soap, went back to the bathroom and thoroughly washed a miserable, smelly child, toweled her off, put on a fresh nightgown, and put her back to bed.

I returned to our bed and, as I was starting to suspect we hadn’t seen the worst of it yet, I took out a book. A minute later, Consort’s eyes fluttered. He saw me reading, and touched my arm gently.

“Can’t sleep?”

“No, dear,” I answered, my voice dripping with paint-peeling sarcasm. “I must have had iced-tea for dinner.”

“Mmph,” he agreed, and rolled back onto his other side where he fell into an immediate coma.

I tell that story because I can get mileage out of it forever, and because it is the most clichéd Clueless Dad anecdote I could think of. For the most part, he is top-drawer, and always has been.

Swaddling? He was a far better swaddler than I ever was. Diapers? He changed them without trying to leverage even a single poop-a-palooza into nine holes of golf. And when my eyes would start whirling like pinwheels at the sheer physical and emotional exertion of tending a small child, he would suddenly remember an errand he had to do, and spirit Daughter off with him. I don’t know whether she sat in her infant car seat as he circled the block for an hour or two, and I don’t care. We made it through another day because Consort knew what needed to be done.

He has never viewed Daughter as “Quinn’s baby, and my occasional baby-sitting gig.”

Whatever choice I have made for Daughter, from when to start solid foods to where to send her for pre-school, he has stood at my side and said, “You’ve done the research. I trust your decision”. The few times he has questioned my choice, he waited until Daughter was out of earshot. For this I am grateful, as she has yet to get the memo explaining how she’s supposed to play one of us off the other.

He knows stuff. In our house, the phrase “Ask your father” isn’t just a cop-out. It’s…well, it is a cop-out, but he often knows the answer.

Just yesterday, Daughter wanted to know how planes “stayed up in the air”. I was about to make clear how they can’t and that Mommy holds the plane up in the sky by digging her fingernails into the armrest and lifting it there. Fortunately, before I could start this lesson, Consort told her some charming tales about air density and lift effects. Within minutes, they were both blowing pieces of paper into the air. I’m still not taking my nails out of the armrest, but she bought it.

He thinks I’m spectacular, and he lets me know it every day of my life. He thinks his daughter is spectacular, and he lets her know it every minute they’re together. We’re both braver for having a cheerleader in our corner (Although, the idea of Consort in a pleated skirt and those pom-pom socks is most unsettling).

He can look under a hood intelligently and I can’t. He can tell which way is north, and I can’t. He can drive stick shift, and I can’t. This is all going to come in very handy when it’s time to teach her to drive.

But most important, he has helped teach Daughter how to expect to be loved: with heart, humor and honesty.

Happy Father’s Day, Consort.

Happy Father’s Day to Consorts, one and all.

And an extra special Happy Father’s Day to any woman raising her kids on her own.


Blogger Unknown said...

I sincerely thank you for finding the time to read for so long.

7:23 AM  
Blogger Jan said...

Your teamwork family life comes through in all your posts. It sounds like you are ALL quite blessed.

9:49 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home