THE TAO OF DAD
I awoke on that last Sunday afternoon of summer at 3:20, feeling that shaky, disoriented and slightly sweaty deal that happens after the best of naps. Cotton mouthed on a green lounge chair, I slowly turned my stiff neck to the left to see my sleeping wife on the matching lounger next to me. Between us were the culprits: Two tall tumblers, each sporting a tired slice of lime and an inch or so of pinkish ice remnants at the bottom. Even the tumblers were sweating.
Beck was playing in the background. About 90 minutes earlier, I had dialed him up on my iPod and set it for All Songs (I have a lot of Beck on my iPod).
Bottles and cans, and just clap your hands, and just clap your hands
We were lounging on the porch of my aunt’s summer bungalow up in Westchester County. The place is a true throwback to the 1960’s. An homage to the Borscht Belt, where the same families had been coming, summer after summer for years, to swim, play tennis, lounge around, play cards, and drink. About an hour drive from the city, you really feel like you are getting away.
We had headed up to the country on Friday, with the idea that a weekend away was just what the doctor ordered. In our mind’s eye, my wife and I saw relaxation, yummy dinners, and late nights filled with wine, song and romance.
We hadn’t factored in the stresses of leaving work early (have you ever noticed that in order to take off 4 measly hours, you have to work 8 hours of overtime?), and packing and loading the car (my wife Beth did an amazing job at packing for the kids, but in her haste, forgot to pack adequately for herself). By the time we left the house, filled the tank and got on the road, we were 2 hours behind schedule and my nerves were stretched thin. Still, the open road held the promise of the 3-day weekend ahead, and I finally started to relax a little.
We were making great time. The 495, the Cross Island Parkway and the Whitestone Bridge were smooth sailing all the way, and we looked to be well on our way for a no-hassle trip. “We are totally lucking out with the traffic”, said I, immediately realizing that my words would jinx us. Within 2 minutes of my rookie-move proclamation, we hit the inevitable wall of traffic that I had conjured up.
As we slowed to a crawl, my precious 2-year old daughter Ruby began to let us know – in no uncertain terms – that she was ready for the drive to be over. She had torn through the snacks we had brought along, had no interest in any of her toys, and the music that normally soothes her usually gentle soul was having no affect whatsoever. We had no cards left to play, other than to Deal With It.
Nothing can make you feel more like a crappy parent than listening to your child howl and not being able to do a thing about it.
After 20 minutes of this torture (felt more like 200 minutes), the road finally opened for us once again, and it was not long before we pulled up to the bungalow.
Where It’s At…
- Unload the Jeep
- Haul the stuff to the bungalow
I forgot to pack for myself!!
- Put away the groceries
- Make dinner for the kiddies
- Set up the Pack ‘n Play
- Make the beds
- More stress
- Cabin fever
- Can’t find the DVDs
Can’t find the DVDs!!
“I’m bored”, said the 5-year old lad.
We hadn’t been there for an hour, and my kids were already going stir crazy.
“Don’t touch that!” I yelped, as another of my aunt’s little Tchotchkes bit the dust.
If you don’t have any Beck in your iTunes library, I recommend that you get some. He is an incredible musician, and his music is not only amazing, but also extremely versatile. You can crank it up at a party or tone it down for cool ambiance during cocktails or dinner. It also happens to be great sex music. Some days, like that Sunday, it’s the perfect soundtrack for a good ol’ naparoo.
That Was a Good Drum Break
As my head cleared, I began to hear beyond the Beck. From inside the bungalow, I could hear the peaceful refrains of Phineas and Ferb keeping Ryan occupied and zombie-like, while I continued to enjoy the peaceful post-Bloody-Mary-nap space I was in. The fact is, a mere 24 hours earlier I had assured Ryan that “We have not come all the way to the county so you can watch TV.” Now, I would have been happy to add additional Cablevision services in exchange for another 40 minutes of Z-z-z-z’s.
I then began to hear the first sounds of Ruby coming out of her nap as well. She had been sleeping soundly in the bedroom, just on the other side of the wall behind Beth and me. As she began to stir in her Pack n’ Play, my wife’s Super Mom Hearing kicked in, letting her know that Ruby was awake. I could feel Beth getting ready to move from the lounge next to me.
As the summer began to fade away from us, I reached my hand out for hers and whispered, “Five more minutes…”
And in those five lovely minutes lies The Balance.