Friday, October 19, 2007

General Mom

My wife left town today to attend her sister's wedding. This seems like a monumental mistake to me because, frankly, I am not qualified to take care of three kids by myself.

Our family has already ignored the first rule of parenting - which says that the total number of kids should never surpass the total number of parents. Bridget and I smugly assumed that this rule applied to other, less capable people. We were wrong about this. Time and again, the three to two ratio has meant that two of our kids could effectively launch frontal attacks to distract us while the third child moved to flank us. I use battle metaphors only half in jest because parenting is exactly like war, except the troops fight for and against you. And the battles usually end with an entire roll of toilet paper mysteriously wedged into an overflowing toilet.

No, parenting requires a capable general - and our general is on furlough.

This morning, for instance, the kids began their assault, as usual, at breakfast.

"What's for breakfast?" asked Gabriel.

Normally, General Mom would issue marching orders at this point.

"Julian, get bowls out and set the table. Gabriel, get the milk out of the refrigerator. Riley, get your underpants off of the dog's head."

Then she looks at me. "And you should stop laughing at the dog. It's only encouraging Riley."

This is exactly the right way to handle the breakfast situation. Each unit is given clear orders with little room for interpretation. Even the dog appreciates the clarity.

How did I handle the same situation this morning?

"Uh, what would you like to have for breakfast?" I asked.

Apparently, the troops wanted one bite of peanut butter toast, one spoonful of yogurt, one piece of bacon and fifteen glasses of milk. They also clamored for chocolate sauce, which I might have given them except I had already used the entire bottle for my own breakfast.

I am no General Mom.

I know my wife will read this blog entry today, so let me say this:

Under your capable leadership, the troops have always assumed that I was second-in-command. You've only been gone about four hours, however, and the troops are beginning to realize that I am, at best, an enlisted soldier like themselves.

We love you. We know you deserve a couple of days with your family. But this is war, dammit! With all due respect, your furlough has been revoked.

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