while the cat's away

My wife recently visited San Francisco for 5 days where she visited friends, drank wine and attended a very awesome conference surrounding creativity, technology and what it means to make things in this day and age. The invitation for this thing came in the form of a Viewmaster, with the slide detailing the when and where, which was just too cool. Think of how many other events people would be more interested in attending if they received invites like this: baby showers for distant relatives, birthday parties for animals, jury summons, dental appointments.

So while she was off having fun, it was up to me to handle the parenting. I was left with strict instructions regarding our daddy/daughter time together: no parties, no TV unless Elmo was in it, no direct sunlight and absolutely, under no circumstances, do not feed her after midnight. I didn't think it would be that difficult of a time. We could go out for walks, hit the playground, do laundry together and maybe I'd have her help me with my latest invention: the Bathroom Buddy 2013.

The first two days were easy, because they were weekdays and Olivia went to daycare. I only had to handle her for a couple hours in the evening, and then she was down for the night. We ate dinner together, listened to music, she told me some dirty jokes (you will not believe what the kitty said to the puppy, it's hilarious) and then it was time for bed. Friday night my step-father called to see how things were going, and I had no complaints. Our time together was already going great, and I looked forward to what the weekend had in store for us.

Saturday began, as usual around here, with doing laundry in the basement of our building. Olivia doesn't normally come down with me, so this part of our place was new and a little scary for her. I don't blame her though: it's dingy, there are roach traps all over (with plenty of visible prisoners) and there are enough dark areas for this place to be the setting of a Stephen King short story. 

 The first few times we went down that day, it seemed that her holding my hand was enough protection. The last time, however, she called in some reinforcements in the form of a black lab stuffed animal and a larger stuffed teddy bear. She wanted to bring both of them down with her, but her arms aren't big enough to hold them together and also hold my hand (which she required). Thus began a routine that would have made Buster Keaton proud. She'd grab both animals, try to take my hand, realize she couldn't so she'd drop one of them, grab my hand, then get upset that one of her animals was being left behind.  This went on for a few minutes until I finally decided we needed to just put one of the animals in our laundry cart. Unfortunately Olivia didn't agree, and she let me know it. We finally settled on me taking her arm while she held both animals, and we were off. We get downstairs and, of course, she decides she doesn't want the animals anymore and sets them on the dirty floor. I grab the laundry, the animals and my child and head back upstairs, all the while reminding myself that I shouldn't get worked up over things that won't matter to my child mere minutes later. I just hope that I stay important to her longer than those stuffed animals did.

Saturday afternoon the weather was nice, so I decided to take her down to our local playground. I sat on the sideline and watched as she ran around, rode the slide by herself (a first that I'd seen), and even made a few friends. As usual these days, once it was time to leave she put up a fight. We'd walk together for a bit, then she'd stop and tell me "bye-bye" as she waved me off. As confident as I was in her ability to survive the night alone in a playground, I decided enough was enough, put her in the stroller and set off. It was on the walk home that Olivia informed me she had invited some of her new playground friends over for a party in our apartment that night (against her mother's wishes I might add), and that it was up to me to help her pull it off.

At first I couldn't believe she wanted to defy her mother, her own flesh and blood! Then I figured, "What would it hurt to have a small gathering in our place?" I totally wanted to be the cool dad, and this would help me begin to solidify that status. I'd keep the event small, and there was plenty of time to clean up any evidence before Jodi got home from her trip. What could go wrong?

We quickly stopped and picked up some drinks and snacks, prepped the apartment and waited for kids to show up. Our door buzzer eventually rang, then again, and again and again. What started as a small gathering turned into a toddler house party. Before I knew it there were turntables set up, musical jams pumping and a boy versus girl dance off happening in our living room (SWITCH!). I think the kid with the high top fade won.

Some of the kids were getting thirsty, so I had Olivia help me get refreshments for them. Thankfully I had bought plenty of milk before this shindig, so we had enough to go around. Me being me, I decided to pack the fridge a certain way so when you opened the door it looked like a Dr. Dre video up in there, but with cartons of vitamin D instead of forties because, you know, the kids.

The drinks started flowing and next thing you know these kids are wanting to do shots of milk, carton stands and shit I had never heard of before. Not wanting to seem like a square, I decided to partake of some myself. The only problem was, I'm fairly lactose intolerant so I passed out after a few shots. The next thing I knew it was morning, I had a headache and my stomach was making sounds akin to the mating songs of blue whales. I went out to to the living room to survey the damage and found Olivia sound asleep on the floor, along with various stuffed animals, cuddling a milk carton.

Thankfully the house was still in one piece, although I had a major job ahead of me. So I cued up a pop song, strapped on a bandana and performed a good old fashioned 80's clean-up montage. What felt like 8 hours passed by in mere minutes, and it seemed like we were all clear. Jodi came home the next day and found Olivia and I quietly reading on our couch, eagerly awaiting her return. She came over to sit with us and I noticed an empty milk carton I'd missed. I quickly stashed it behind a pillow, smiled my brightest, and welcome her home. She sat down, gave me a kiss and then started cuddling with Olivia. I took that time to look at the camera (breaking the 4th wall) and gave out a silent "Whew!" Crisis averted, end scene.