Every week he has what we call his "short day". He'll work an overnight shift, go home to sleep for a few hours and be back on the roads by mid-afternoon.
The boys and I also call it "Daddy's Poopy Day".
I try and do something fun with the boys on Daddy's Poopy Day. If they've spent an entire day at the sitter's (which is unusual for them - mostly they're there for just a few hours), we'll go to McDonald's for dinner, or to a movie.
When Daddy's Poopy Day falls on a Saturday though? Its extra tough. Its more than 24 hours in a row of making meals and snacks and entertaining children and breaking up fights and answering the 356,000 questions they seem to be able to come up with. I know lots of people do it - single parents, other folks who's spouses work long long hours - I'm just saying I know it sucks.
And if you just happen to have to run errands without a spouse around? Lord save you. There is no "Hey hon, could you just watch the kids for an hour so I can sort through my coupons and run to the store? And then help me haul all of our groceries up the stairs and put them all away?" There's no time to even consider the coupons, and you're left alone to buckle two kids into the car who make it crystal clear that they "Don't wanna go to the grocery store!" followed by an hour of "Here hon, don't hit your brother - help me pick out what flavor of yogurt we should get!" and "We don't hang on the edge of the cart - GET DOWN!" and "STOP TOUCHING THAT FOR THE LOVE OF GOD IT'S GLASS WHY MUST YOU TOUCH EVERYTHING?!?"
I try to make my kids think that whatever it is that I have to do is just the best thing in the whole wide world. (I'm thinking that may by why they are so enamored with Piggly Wiggly.) I can bribe them with the promise of bananas or chocolate milk, and I've slyly built their collection of "books children must certainly own" by promising new ones to well-behaved children.
So this past Saturday, I made the mall down in Brookfield sound like heaven on earth.
Kids aren't putting on their shoes fast enough? "Someone's not going to get a milk at the coffee place!" The shoes that were, a moment before, IMPOSSIBLE to put on somehow make it on the right feet in 2.2.
So off we went. I wanted to buy a new shirt or two for this little ol' trip I'm going on this next week. I have to say I was rather pleased. They only hid under the racks of women's clothing four times. ("Oooh - this fort is soft!") I only had to hiss "Stop touching your brother!" six times. I grabbed a few shirts and bought them to try on later.
While having our treat at the coffee place, I looked up to see a man with a Barnes & Noble bag. I had totally forgotten they had one at that mall and - SCORE! - I still had a $50 gift card for B&N in my purse!
"Boys! Would you guys like to go pick out a book?"
Nick nearly choked on his milk. "CAN WE?!?"
"Sure! Let's finish our snacks and as long as you're good in the store when we get there you can each pick a book."
Once inside Barnes & Noble, we headed for the kids section and they found a rack of those little paperback Step Into Reading books. Will picked a Toy Story book and Nick picked something with the Super Friends in it. Rock on.
Now for the tricky part. Getting them NOT to beat each other with the new books we haven't yet purchased while Mommy gets her turn to browse the shelves. I navigated them toward the discount tables (LOVE the discount tables at book stores!) and specifically told them to stand between two tables out of the way of foot traffic. I even told them they could sit on the floor and read their new books if they wanted to, so long as they stayed out of the way of other people and kept their hands to themselves.
So I start browsing. I hear Nick say, "Here Will, do you want me to read it to you?"
Followed by an "Uh huh!"
Happy that they're busy and not taking the books off the shelves because they "need to be cleaned up - they look junky", I had already found a few books that looked promising.
Then I hear the tell-tale staccato voice of a new reader, slowly telling his brother,
"Buzz and Woody. Good buddies."
I peeked around the corner toward where they were sitting. Nick was holding up the book so his brother could see the pictures. He was definitely reading to his brother. I watched, afraid to interrupt yet insanely proud of my kids as Nick read almost the entire book to his little brother.
Its official. I have a new reader! (And two of the best kids on the entire planet!)
Sounding out a tough word
And you'd better believe little brother won't let himself fall too far behind!