Katie and Ian returned yesterday to put a welcome end to the boys night out party for which Elliott and I had barely had time to set the ground rules. I was sharing stories with a good friend yesterday about this week of party. He and his wife would like to be parents someday soon (I pray that will happen because they would make great ones), so I felt obligated as an experienced father to forebode for him potential stories of his own daddy-hood.
It was free-pass week for Elliott. Being his 24 hour a day keeper, I kept my personal sanity in mind when choosing the strategy and timing of the battles I engaged in. In fact, his illness was all the excuse I needed to remain just this side of the fence of total chaos. When normally we are good about picking up the toys after we're done playing, I decided where they laid when he was done playing with them was as good a storage system as we needed this week. Three days of this left FEMA workers lined up at the door begging to provide assistance, but as I said, it was disaster by plan which makes it of less national interest. It's like a controlled burn. The flames are often as large and damaging as a fire out of control, but there is far less panic in the eyes of the fire fighters.
I did discover a couple of things while attending this party. One, had the party continued Elliott would have soon become the full-time party coordinator and would have assumed responsibility for all strategic planning. Subtle signs of this transition were already posted throughout the house. I had resorted to bribing Elliott with suckers to take his medicine ( a bit of strategy offered up by grandma Almond which I quickly incorporated into my battle plan). The tactic worked like a charm. Elliott would gag on his medicine, cry a little, then receive the comfort of a sucker and give me all the reassuring smiles I needed to prevent an anxiety attack before the next dose. But Elliott decided to alter our methods. During one particular medicine administration session, after I had given him his sucker, a brown one he called it, he handed it back to me and as annoying as only a two year old can do it, demanded a BLUE one. I was so aggravated that I intentionally took the long way to get him his BLUE one.
I told my friend this story and he said "now if I had told you this scenario a couple of weeks ago, can you picture yourself getting Elliott the blue one". "NO", I said. But what you need to know, to completely understand the magnitude of 'free pass' week, if Elliott had handed me that brown sucker back and requested a rib eye steak, I would have asked him if he wanted a baked potato with it. The summary of point one, mama and Ian arrived home just in time.
Point two. I've shared this thought before but it is worth sharing again as it is so clear in my thoughts. I knew my stint as a single father would be brief, which made it easier to do battle with such a doomed battle plan - at least in the interest of successful long term parenting. I knew when the support troops arrived we would be able to change the plan and do so in time to avert any permanent scars. But there are many single parents out there, mostly single mothers, who don't have the confidence that help is on the way. And many of them have more than one child. They go through this battle every day, realizing they can't have free-pass week without risking the welfare of their children. I feel for their struggle. I admire the commitment that many of them have to a game plan more productive than mine.
It is nice to have Katie and Ian home. Yes, the support troops are great, but it is even better to see our sweet baby Ian back in this house and watching Elliott give mama and baby hugs, the likes of which only they receive.