I’m usually left with all the important responsibilities around the Fong household. These include, but are not limited to: How high to set the lawnmower blade, what movies we watch on Netflix and which brand of frozen pizza we purchase.
My wife gets off relatively easy — all she has to worry about is making sure our children are fed, cleaned, clothed and, generally speaking, alive and breathing at all times.
Sometimes, though, my wife takes the even easier way out — and chaperones a sixth-grade trip to Washington, D.C., where she is in charge of making sure 350 students come back alive — and leaves me in charge of one of our children.
Still, though, I figured it would be a week-long respite for me, as Max and I got to spend some quality father-son time together without my wife and daughter getting in the way of our manly pursuits. And by “manly pursuits,” I mostly mean eating sandwiches of incredible size, making rude noises of substantial volume, using questionable language and watching potentially inappropriate sitcoms on television.
That’s how it was supposed to go, anyway.
Oh, don’t get me wrong — there was plenty of all of those things going on — but there were a whole bunch of other things happening that I hadn’t factored into my plans.
Like, for instance, the fact that Max’s schedule was rarely every synced in with my schedule. For instance, Max and I eat at completely different times — which is pretty incredible, considering that in the 18 hours a day I’m awake, I’m usually eating at last 15 of those hours. Max always managed to be hungry during the exact times I wasn’t eating — and almost always right after I had sat down on the couch to watch television.
And, of course, Max doesn’t eat any of the same things I eat, which meant that I had to prepare separate meals for him. By about the second day of my wife and daughter being gone, I had given up on my plans of grilling steaks and boiling live Maine lobsters every night for dinner.
We went to McDonald’s four nights in a row.
Of course, following dinner is bedtime. Max quickly learned daddy’s idea of bedtime is a little different from mommy’s, as well. Mommy is a firm believer in reading Max a bedtime story, them tucking him into bed and lightly stroking his hair until he falls asleep.
My idea of bedtime is that if I watching something he has no interest in on television, he’ll eventually get bored and fall asleep on the couch. Then I can carry him up to bed and leave him there until morning. While our methods may differ, I couldn’t help but notice that Max got to sleep right around the same time with me as he does for mom.
The problem with kids falling asleep at a decent hour, however, is that it just gives them more energy for the next day. Max would wake up every morning ready to tackle the day ahead — and need stuff. Lots of stuff. No sooner had his feet hit the floor than he needed fed. I figured this would be easy enough — I mean, how hard could it be to pour cereal into a bowl?
The very first day, however, I quickly learned that the cereal had to be poured into a very specific bowl — a bowl my wife obviously keeps in a very secret hiding place. Fortunately for me, it didn’t take Max long to figure out that when daddy says, “Eat it or starve,” he probably means it.
I did manage to feed my child on a daily basis. Sure, the lunch I packed may have consisted largely of popcorn, cookies and fruit snacks, but in my mind, that still constitutes food. The goal was to get food into his body — in that regard, I succeeded.
Of course, feeding Max breakfast was just one part of getting him ready for school in the morning. Then came brushing his teeth, brushing his hair and getting him dressed. To save on time, I used the same brush for his hair and teeth (I’m kidding … I didn’t bother brushing his hair the entire week. There’s a reason why I like to keep his hair short).
Getting him dressed wasn’t too hard — it was just a matter of finding the right clothes on his bedroom floor and then putting them on him.
Then I sent him off to school, where I figured the fine people in our educational system could be in charge for awhile. I picked him up at the end of the school day and repeated the entire process.
The good news? My wife did in fact return to him (as opposed to running off with a congressman) with our daughter intact, and I was able to produce a son that was only mildly emotionally scarred. I figure it’s a win-win for both of us.
Now I can’t wait until it’s my turn to take Max — and 349 other kids — to our nation’s capital in a few years.
Troy’s very own David Fong appears on Thursdays in the Troy Daily News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong