So Heather said that it was a shame that I can’t write a daddy blog so that I could tell this story.
I, however, really feel like there’s as much call for good “childless set-in-his-ways guy figuring out dating a woman with kids” blogging as there is daddy blogging. I mean, this? This is challenging. Daddies have it all together, right? It’s us clueless guys that need the help.
Take, for example, Bunco night. Once a month, Heather goes and plays Bunco with some other women. Normally, this would be baby sitter night. Being nice (and wanting to save her babysitter money for some evenings we have planned together) I offer to watch the boys myself and work on the book manuscript while she’s gone.
For context, this is not terribly unusual. It’s not terribly uncommon for me to watch the boys for a while without her, either at the house, or taking one or both shopping or to a movie or something. Also for context, the events of this particular night were not completely atypical either.
For whatever reason, both boys were in fine form that night. They weren’t really being that bad, and we had an OK evening, but it was one of those nights that, for whatever reason, they wanted to see what they could get away with. (Answer: Not a whole lot.) The first time I kept them by myself, the entire time was a constant test. Since then, it’s gotten a lot better, but every once and a while they still feel the need to give me a follow-up proficiency exam.
So finally we’d made it through an evening of me helping Finn with his homework, the boys watching TV, me doing a little manuscript reading (keyword: “little”) and the three of us playing Beyblades.
And then it was bedtime.
Caden, the five year old, started out being good. Finn, the seven year old, started out trying me.
Caden got in bed, just like he was supposed to.
Finn is getting in bed, but I notice that he’s still wearing his jeans, and I’m pretty sure he’s not supposed to. And I’m pretty sure he knows he’s not supposed to.
“Finn, are you supposed to be wearing your jeans to bed?”
“Mommy lets me sometimes.”
“Are you sure?”
I’m dubious. “I’m going to send her a text and ask her.” This, we have to do sometimes. If I think you’re lying, I’ll ask. If you’re not, everything’s fine. If you’re not, there’s consequences for lying, either from me or mom. Usually that enough is enough to elicit the truth, but Finn says to check. So I text her.
At this point, Caden, bless his soul, decides to come help. “Finn’s lying! Mommy doesn’t let us wear jeans! He’s lying!”
“Caden, this is between me and Finn. Go back to bed.”
“But he’s lying!”
“Go. To. Bed.”
“But Finn’s lying!”
“Caden, get in bed, or I’m putting your helmet up.” I don’t have a whole lot of disciplinary tools at my disposal, but this is a big part of my arsenal, along with loss of doing fun stuff while I’m there.
“But he’s lying!”
The helmet goes up. “If you keep it up, your BeyBlades are next.”
So Caden goes to bed. Briefly. But then he says he needs to go to the bathroom. “Fine, go.” I’m not really paying him any attention — this is a standard delaying tactic, but you can’t say no, and I’m more focused on Finn.
Finn at this point starts laughing. “I’m going to stay up until 1 o’clock.” (Apparently, one of his friends got to do so over the weekend, and that was now officially the coolest. thing. ever.) He’s decided that if I’m asking mom, he’ll get to stay up longer. The joke’s on him; he’s already in bed, and even if she doesn’t answer, I know him well enough to know he can’t stay awake in bed in the dark for long.
I’m dealing with him, and noticing that Caden is taking a long time, and laughing. Why is he laughing? Nothing funny should be happening in there. So now I’m fighting on two fronts — “Finn, to bed. Caden, hurry up.”
Finally, Caden comes out of the bathroom.
Or, rather, bounds out. With a huge grin.
This, then, is the last straw. Changing into jeans is just too much. He knows better. He knows.
The BeyBlades go up. “If it happens again, I’ll take … uh … something else away.” I’m running out of ideas. Caden is told to change. Finn is told to change. Caden changes. Finn changes. Caden goes to bed. Finn goes to bed. The lights go out.
It’s over. The battle was long and hard, but I endured, and I won.
Heather comes home. I tell her the story.
The next morning, the boys tell her the story, and she comes to work and tells me the story.
“Did you realize that Caden was wearing jeans all day? He hadn’t changed.”