A friend of mine, whose wife had planned an evening on the town awhile back, mentioned to me that he was going to have to “babysit” the night she was out. Another Mom friend of ours, having overheard, rolled her eyes–“it’s not called “babysitting” when it’s your own kid, you asshole–it’s called ‘parenting’.” I could only smile–my friend had haplessly walked straight into what can only be referred to as a Dad-trap. Alas, Dads, take note:
Regardless of whether they are working or stay-at-home, Moms the world ’round have a much more complete sense of how to keep your children alive and burning calories than you do. In primal terms, your wife (or baby mama) has been responsible for nourishing, protecting and nurturing the development of your kids since conception; you have been around mostly to make sure they don’t get eaten by bears.
So, the shoes to fill are impossibly large when we are tasked with the job of playing surrogate Mommy for a day (or an hour, or 10 minutes while Mommy blow dries her hair in the bathroom). Given this, I offer you the following legend with the hopes that you may be able to sidestep some of the more common Dad-traps the next time you are asked to “babysit.”
MOMMY’S CARE INSTRUCTIONS = What They Really Mean
1. DRESS THEM IN WHATEVER YOU WANT = Dress them in whatever you want that’s clean, matches, and is properly buttoned. This ideally involves multiple layers and makes for cute pictures. Failure to comply will result in looks from your wife similar to the way one regards a dog who has gotten into the garbage.
2. BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DINNER & 2 SNACKS = Remember to feed your children every 15-20 minutes and offer beverage* continually. Beverage* must be a meticulously calculated blend of diluted juice or milk or non-juice, non-dairy substitute. All food groups must be represented at each feeding. Puffs and teething biscuits are not a food group.
3. GET CHILDREN SOME FRESH AIR = You must physically remove children from confines of house for 1-3 hours per day. Do not forget sunscreen, entertainment, food, or beverages*. Note: true fresh air does not come in through open windows – this is referred to as a “draft,” and necessitates an extra layer of clothes (see 1, above).
4. NO TV = No YouTube, desktop, laptop, iPad, iPhone, or video from any other portable electronic device is permitted. (Text message videos from Mommy are allowed.)
5. BATH IF THERE’S TIME = This is a trick. Although you will be non-stop busy from the moment Mommy leaves with all of the above, you will have absolutely no manner of justifying how there was “no time” for any activity specifically mentioned on this list. Note: sink baths / garden hose showers do not count and somehow your wife will know the difference–it apparently has something to do with how the top of your child’s head smells.
6. GET A FEW PICTURES = Your complete photo essay of your children’s day is due by sunset. Remember: you will soon be old and your kids will be all grown up and out of the house and all you will have to remember these days by are the 49,673 digital photos you’ve uploaded to Snapfish.
7. BEDTIME AROUND 7 = Bedtime at 7, not 7:01, or 7:02, or even 6:59. Non-compliance will result in your assuming full responsibility for any and all middle-of-the-night wake-ups and/or early risings.
As a final note of fair warning, you may choose to refrain from sharing, complaining or describing in any way the sheer and absolutely harrowing difficulties inherent in any of these basic tasks. You will at best receive a placating, “See?” And at worst, a, “Welcome to ‘parenting,’ you asshole.”
*Do not refer to what you offer your children to drink as “beverages.” This sounds generally like it may be something alcoholic in nature and can possibly get you arrested when spoken aloud in a public place like a playground or other area heavily populated by Moms.