Several months ago: Sandi and her college roommates decided to get together for an annual reunion weekend in the Finger Lakes. Wine tasting, fine dining, pillow fights, talking about boys ... the whole magilla. That weekend would be this weekend. No problem for me to watch the kids, that's the kind of guy I am. Just don't come back smelling of swarthy Sommelier.
Friday morning: Sandi is scheduled to leave our house at around 11 a.m. I'll put the kids on the bus and let her sleep in, then pick the kids up after work so we can begin our manly-man weekend: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups for dinner, Halloween Oreos for dessert, camp-out in sleeping bags in front of the big screen, watching movies until we pass out. It don't get any better than that, kids.
Anyhoo, Thomas wakes feeling a little iffy. 'Yeah, right,' thinks me. 'That's the oldest trick in the book -- Ooh, my stomach hurts. I need attention.' Little faker bastard. I tickle his stomach, trying to get him to laugh and thereby prove that he's school-worthy and won't have to miss picture day -- catch him in his own lie. What I caught was about 2 quarts of vomit. Hmm, plans. They sure do gang aft agley, eh?
OK, not to worry. Sandi just won't get to sleep in as late as she would have. But she shouldn't have to miss her weekend. Ethan is good to go to school so I'll just put him on the bus, go in to the office to pick up some work and bring it home so I can tend to Thomas. I should be back in plenty of time for her to stay on schedule and participate full-force in her lost weekend with her ho friends. Easy peasy, rice and cheesy as Ethan likes to say. No idea where he got that from. Possibly that "channeling of the dead grandparents" thing again.
Friday late morning: Work gathered, Ethan at school, Sandi chomping at the bit to flee the stench that is now the family room. I'm on my way home feeling pretty sure that whatever made Thomas leggo his eggos all over me has long passed and that I'll walk into a big, über-animated hug. Let the bonding begin. So confident am I that all is well that I stop at the store to pick up some EXTRA Oreos. You know, in the interest of replenishing lost nutrients.
I enter the house. It's quiet. Too quiet. "Thomas, I got Oreos! Ready to start our manly-man weekend a little early?" From his room I hear echo-y wretching and splatters -- the hybrid sound of someone at once puking into a bucket while trying to mouth "FUCKYOU!!" Yeah, OK. This might not be the glorious testosterone fest I'd planned. I switch into caretaker mode and send Sandi on her way. (Note: She called no fewer than 5 times on the 45-minute drive to the first way-point in her trip and several more times before bed time. Which truly illustrates the biggest difference between mothers and fathers. Not that I'd be apathetic by any stretch of the imagination. It's really a matter of practicality as my roommates would be yelling at pretend strippers in the background, trying to get me in trouble. "Yeah, honey. Ed's the shy one. Maybe a lap dance will help him relax!" Pricks.)
Friday evening: The bucket, she's a-getting a workout, no? Christ, this kid hasn't eaten anything since dinner last night and where is all this goop coming from? And poor Ethan. Just wandering around the house babbling about how it's not fair that he's not getting Reese's Peanut Butter Cups for dinner. But the good news is that there's no fever. And as of about 7 p.m., Thomas seems to be able to keep liquids down. Victory! Mayhaps we have saved Saturday.
Saturday morning: Ethan wakes complaining of an upset stomach. Son of a bitch. Well, at least I know better than to taunt the demons by attempting to exorcise them with a good tickling. Thomas still a bit lethargic, but obviously bouncing back. Daddy's assessment: low-key, indoor fun is the order of the day. Which is fine, except I promised my next door neighbor that we'd rent the plate compactor and finally finish the paver walkways we've been working on together. So them indoors, me partially out? It could work.
Saturday afternoon: It's not working. 15 minutes of work to every 45 minutes of hugging and consoling. Like working in the terminal patient ward but whinier. Such is a daddy's lot. I can see the goals of the weekend giving me the finger from their rear view mirror. Might not finish the walkway. Probably won't have time to clean the house before Sandi gets home on Sunday evening. 2 bags of Oreos uneaten. Come on preservatives, do your thing.
Saturday evening: Ethan's vomiting jag never materialized, which is one in the plus column. But neither of the boys seem up to camp out night. Calling the time of death on funnnnn NOW! Shower, into clean jammies, a little reading and then a movie.
Sunday morning: Woke up surprisingly early. Checked in on the boys: No vomit. No pee. No unwanted bodily excretions to speak of. SCORE! Off to enjoy morning coffee and some grown-up TV. God, Sunday morning TV blows. Not that it matters, because at coffee's first sip the boys crash out of their bedroom door like Barbaro. Oh, they're feeling better, all righty. A little chocolate milk and vitamins and they're off to the basement play room to destroy and will I put Cars on the big screen for them. Why, yes. Yes I will. Oh, and will I sit and watch it with them? Why, yes. As soon as I get done doing this mumblemumblemumbledaddything (dear god, I really don't want my Cars-watching count to break into 4 digits!). Oh, and don't forget mommy's coming home tonight. Maybe we should do something special for her. Should we make her a card or something? Ethan: "Let's get her camera and take pictures of our weewees." Get back to you on that one, big guy.
Summary: Nobody died. The walkway is completed. The boys are currently on their third helping of cinnamon toast made with love. So far they're receptive to the idea of getting dressed and leaving the house today, although I have no clue as to what we'll do. Maybe grab lunch at Five Guys and go see Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs in 3D. Just what daddy needs, another movie -- and one about food to boot, which doesn't at ALL make me want to gag more than I already have this weekend. But we all agree that we want to be here when mommy comes home so we can give her the biggest hug ever and tell her how much we missed her and give her the cards we're making right now at the table and tell her that we hope she had a great time and didn't miss us too much. Oh, and there's a special present for you on your camera. Welcome home, baby.
"Now what you gonna do when the planets shift? What you gonna do, gonna slit your wrists? Cry love, cry love." -- John Hiatt