Geoff is off work now until March 1. He is staying at home with the kids while I am at work. Initially, when I trudged off to work in the morning and left Geoff behind with the kids, I felt a certain smug satisfaction. "He'll never last," I thought, recalling every episode I've ever seen of Crash Test Mommy where the dad would be laying on the kitchen floor curled in the fetal position by noon sharp, the kids now having free reign over the house, wearing pots on their heads and peeing in the flower beds.
Imagine my surprise when I returned home from work and entered a kitchen that was redolent of lasagna cooking in the oven. Gleaming counter tops, No dishes in the sink. The kids were quietly coloring at the table. Geoff was sorting through laundry.
"That's the last of it," he announced as he entered to the kitchen where he opened a bottle of wine to serve with dinner.
Surprise, as well as something else.
What is the matter with me? I wondered, thinking- isn't this what I've always wanted? To have an attentive husband who participates in the household chores?
Yes. But only to an extent. I want him to concede, to acknowledge, in some small way, 'this is tough!' "I don't know how you do it!" But as we lock eyes over our Merlot, I know that I will never hear those words from him, that a war has been declared, of sorts.
A turf war.
So a few days later when Alex was running low on wet wipes, I decided to sabotage him and resisted my temptation to run and buy some. Imagine his stress! I thought, when he has to run to the store at the last minute with the kids in tow! It felt kind of cruel, but I've been there myself. Geoff certainly never kept the diapers and wipes stocked for me. But then, later that evening, Geoff quietly excuses himself and said he needed to go and buy wet wipes. So off he went and I felt slightly deflated.
But when he returned with Teddy's Choice wet wipes I felt a surge of hope course through me. "Good look with those," I said to Geoff, my eyes twinkling mischievously.
"Why, what do you mean?" he asked.
"Oh, nothing," I said, barely able to conceal my laughter.
"Well, they were over three dollars cheaper than the Pampers ones. And they have more in them," he countered.
There's a reason for that, I wanted to say, but kept it in. Let him find out the hard way, I thought, eager to hear him complain the next day about how flimsy and cheap they were.
But when I returned home from work the next day, he didn't mention anything.
"How did those wipes work out for you?" I prompted him.
"Oh, wipes?" he asked, distracted like. "Fine, why?"
"Well, you didn't find them, kind of flimsy at all?"
He shrugged. "A wipes a wipe," he said.
I couldn't believe it. I had to try it for myself. So the next time Alex needed a diaper change, off I went to change him, determined to prove to him that the wipes, were in fact, sub standard, that I was in fact, way more knowledgeable in this department than him, thereby trumping his stay at home abilities.
But no. Apparently Teddy's Choice has really beefed up their wet wipes since the last time I've used them. They were in fact, startlingly similar to the more expensive ones I'd been using all along.
Which should have been a good thing.
I felt dissatisfied.
"I still prefer Pampers" I told Geoff. "They're hypo allergenic."
"Well, so are those," he replied. "See, it says so right there."
"Well just because something says something doesn't make it so," I replied, though not very convincingly. Geoff just gave me a look and went off to do something else.
Anyways, last night I heard, I believe, the first hint of a crack in his facade.
We were laying in bed and he sighed. "Alex has a new game he likes to play," he told me, his voice wary.
"Well, he likes to run into the kitchen, where I'm supposed to burst in there and find him. Then he proceeds to run away, and I'm supposed to chase him, eventually tackle him, then tickle him. Finally I release him, where he runs into kitchen and the game begins again."
I laugh. "That sound cute."
He sighs again. "Oh it is. Just not so much for three or four hours at a time."
"Well," I say. "You just need to distract him."
"He does not get tired of it," he replied forcefully, almost desperately, and for a moment I wondered if he was on the brink of a break down.
"I'm sure its just a phase," I suggest, although inwardly I am please. "Dear Log: Day fourteen into project crack dad and the subject is showing mild signs of stress."
I have noticed that Alex now will go to Geoff all the time. With a book. Or with his blanky to cuddle. Or for this or that.
"Come and see mom," I try to say to Alex.
"Daddy!" he exclaims.
Anyways, I suppose it is good for them. Good for me, even.
But we will see.
There's still a long way before March 1.