Seriously, which one of those little nincom-shits did it? I won’t tell them you told me.
I leave then in trusting embrace of their pseudo-parent named television for five minutes and when I come back from the bathroom and they’re gone. Meanwhile the family sized bag of Cooler Ranch Doritos has been spilled; its former contents shattered, smashed, and irretrievably mashed into my carpet.
Eight-year-old Emma and five-year-old Max, you hustled me. The last month you were well behaved: Emma, I didn’t once see you pour yourself a plate of ketchup to eat in bed, and, Max, I think you’ve about grown out of that phase where you were constantly rubbing yourself on furniture and carpet. Excellent, I think this is it; I think our household has reached its pinnacle now that I’m not stopping children from eating ketchup in bed or thrusting on things. And that makes me sad—for a number of reasons.
Fast-forward to last Saturday, and we’re at the supermarket. I swipe a comb and some Band-Aids from the display so I can feel in control of at least something in my life, even if it is minimal. Guess what, world, I don’t even need combs or Band-Aids because I remember buying them here last week!
The trip continues; my comb and box of Band-Aids stealthy concealed in my jacket as we pass the aisle filled with chips. The kids’ excitement escalates; Emma lets out a squeak and Max stars flapping his arms. I’m beginning to suspect their mom strategically avoids this aisle with them, that is when she’s not too busy fucking Burt Smart, that asshole that sells used cars by the freeway. Either way, the kids are excited to be here and I see an opening to be thought of as the fun parent for once instead of the boring parent that smells like paint and rarely has toilet paper at his apartment.
I wish I could be as excited as they were then for anything at all. A home run, a good meal, sex with an attractive stranger: they all pale in comparison to being six and dancing through an aisle filled with chips. However, they of course start clamoring over some weird, disgusting looking T.G.I. Friday’s Mozzarella Sticks chips, but thankfully, I have veto power. Sadly, that move may mean I’ll have to buy more chips for me to keep my lead in the Fun Parent Polls.
I veto their choice much to the disdain of Emma. This turns into a scene. Yes, we have become the temper tantrum family at the grocery store. By how she was screaming you’d have thought that I had told her to take a bath, spanked her, and told her Christmas was cancelled all at once. My God, people are starring now. I wave and mouth, “it’s okay”, but they keep starring, undoubtedly starving for a noteworthy story in a small town that’s usual newspaper headlines consist of things like: “Tips For Safe Driving” or “Soccer Practice Held and Enjoyed”.
Max had taken a shine to a bag of Cooler-Ranch Doritos and I couldn’t be prouder. I give the “He’s younger than you, just let him have this one” line to, a now composed, Emma. I do it not because I think this is a moment to teach her compassion for younger kids, but mostly it’s because I’d rather eat Cooler-Ranch Doritos than whatever T.G.I-bullshit she was trying to push earlier. On a serious note, though, I know I joke, but, when I leave T.G.I. Friday’s the satisfaction, compliments, and respect flow freely out of me. And by “satisfaction, compliments, and respect” I of course mean “several diarrhea poo-namis”.
Okay, we have the Doritos, some other groceries, the concealed Band-Aids and comb, and we’re heading for the cashier. Still feeling uncertain of my position as the fun parent, I tell Emma and Max that we can stop and get a movie on the way home. They cheer; I smirk. Take that, Brenda; I didn’t buy myself this shirt that says “World’s Coolest Divorced Dad” for nothing!
They burst through the apartment door and plop down in front of the TV. As the fun parent I decide they don’t need to wait until dinner, that they can have a FEW chips now. Not that many though, I don’t want them turning into fat kids, because, come on, I’m in my thirties and I still make fun of fat kids.
Fifteen minutes into the movie I go to the bathroom. What could go wrong, I’ll be in there two minutes?
Holy Taco Night!
How could they even create this much mess in two minutes without working at it? Ugh, this is the infamous 2010 Holiday Popcorn Tin Fiasco all over again.
Begrudgingly, I start cleaning it up, trying to repress the rage that will transform me from a “delightful dad” into a “fast and furious father” in a matter of a few minutes.