I wonder sometimes about what kind of damage I’m doing to my kids. It’s easy as a parent, and particularly a dad, to focus on all of the things I don’t do. What bad habits of mine are they inheriting from me?
Is my daughter doomed to a life of being constantly 15-45 minutes late for everything?
Is my oldest going to grow up to be an insufferable know-it-all?
Is Faceman going to pass gas not because it’s necessary, but because it’s hysterical?
The best moments for me have been when I’ve discovered I have influenced them somehow, but in a way I never expected.
My youngest is 4 years old right now. For the past 4 years, or his entire life, I have been a remote employee at a series of companies. I would leave occasionally for meetings or to see clients, but for four years I didn’t work for a company with an office in my part of the world, so I was a virtual employee.
There are a lot of perks with this lifestyle:
- I could go a month sometimes without gassing up the car
- Email in your pajamas still counts as work
- It’s a lot easier to get a solid 8 hours of sleep when you don’t have to waste 2 hours of your workday sitting in traffic
On the other hand, there are serious drawbacks:
- Some mornings you get started working early and before you know it, it’s 3 o’clock and you haven’t showered, groomed, or eaten
- Social isolation is real and crippling… you don’t miss your infantile co-workers until they have been replaced by actual infants.
- You hear “WIPE MY BUTT” in the workday far more often than you ever thought possible.
Recently, I got what Mrs. Nostrikethat charitably refers to as “A Real Job” for a big company that involves me getting out of bed at approximately the same time every day and, on most days, going someplace that is not my house. We have all mostly adapted, but from the 4 year old’s perspective THE WORLD HAS TURNED UPSIDE DOWN.
I have already remarked on the Absence of Mom. It’s pretty clear to me that Mom only gets noticed when she’s trying to do something fairly harmless, like poop by herself. I didn’t really count on the Absence of Dad though, even though my wife swears that’s all the kids talk about whenever I leave is when will I return.
Truthfully, my 4 year old was probably more in tune with the disruption in my life than I was. I found this out one day when I got home from work and Mrs. Nostrikethat suggested I engage the youngest in a conversation about what he wanted to be when he grows up:
Daddy. When I grow up, I want to be a House Daddy.
That sounds pretty good. What does a House Daddy do?
He stays at home and works and plays Plants vs. Zombies.
…That sounds awesome.
The little glimpse into the unfiltered, surprisingly perceptive mind of a child was both funny and a little bittersweet. I may not be a true House Daddy any more, but I can still squeeze in a few rounds of Plants vs. Zombies before bedtime.
Maybe Santa will bring someone a new bathrobe for Christmas…