Worst Dad Ever

my calendar todayOkay, not really, I know. History is littered with more worthy competitors for the title. But you know, sometimes I surprise myself. Given all the discretionary travel I do, Devon’s gotten used to being single mom for extended periods of time. (“Honey – I’m headed off to Antarctica for four months – anything you want me to bring back for you? Oh, and can you field the kids while I’m gone?”) She doesn’t complain – in fact, she encourages me to do this sort of thing – but I know she loves to get away, too. And she almost never ever ever gets to.

So when it turned out that I had 20,000 airline miles that were about to expire, it seemed like a fine opportunity for her to skeedaddle off to Boston for a few days to see some old friends and kick around Harvard Square. It was going to be a quiet week at home – all I had to do was make sure the kids were fed and got themselves to and from school without any major trauma. Heh.

It was Monday, the day I’d sent Miranda off without lunch, planner or notebooks. It was evening, and I was texting her from Berkeley, saying that my meeting was running late, and could she help make sure Jem got to bed properly. This was after my text saying that I’d left two boxes of Mac and Cheese on the counter, and could she please make herself dinner? Now, you know I take pride in being, as my friend Michelle put it, frighteningly competent. I like to think that I can step up to pretty much any challenge and, with a little time to spin up, perform admirably. And it was as I hit “send” on yet another missive to my apparently abandoned children I began to suspect that I wasn’t doing quite as well at this short-term “single dad” thing as one might hope.

Granted, there have been no (unexpected) trips to the doctor (yet), so I’m not doing that badly. And I expect that, given a week or two, we’d settle into a comfortable routine where everyone made it to/from school clothed and fed properly. I swear – it’s great having these two teenagers, really. They’re accommodating, understanding and frighteningly competent when left to their own devices. Which of course makes me feel even more like I’m not living up to my side of the parenting bargain when they say things like “No, it’s okay – I borrowed lunch money from a friend.” Or “It’s okay – I made a splint out of discarded newspaper and set the fracture myself.”

Regardless – we’re all going to survive, if only because Devon’s getting back tomorrow afternoon. And because my sole remaining challenge (besides feeding the kids tonight and getting them both to school tomorrow morning with proper clothing) is twisting the fabric of the time-space continuum to deliver Miranda to a 5:30 appointment in Menlo Park tonight while I’m busy with Jem from 5:00-6:00 in Mountain View. Piece of cake. Needless to say, we’re ordering pizza for dinner.

2 responses to “Worst Dad Ever

  1. Pablo, the fact that they can take care of themselves and handle situations is what makes you a GOOD parent. Don’t get sucked into the helicopter propwash–or whatever polite word is used for the Blackhawk parents of Palo Alto.

  2. You’re being an AWESOME dad, Pablo… just say that you’re teaching them the valuable life skills of independence, responsibility, and TARDIS-usage!

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