What to Do with an Hour or Two
Just for kicks and some sympathy I don’t really deserve, I recently calculated the percentage of waking hours that I have spent with one or both of my sons since becoming a stay-at-home dad five years ago.
The result? 98.9 percent. Can you believe that? 98.9 percent! I have been with the boys nearly every single moment of the past five years. We’re always together. Even when I go to the bathroom, one of those little rascals is peeking his head inside the door to ask, “Daddy, do you know where my dinosaur book is?” And that measly 1.1 percent of time away from the boys can be attributed to a few nursery school board meetings and a very occasional dinner date with my wife — evenings that were not spent with the kids, but talking about them.
OK, OK. You got me. 98.9 percent might be a little bit of an exaggeration. Maybe it just seems like that much. It’s probably closer to like 97 percent. Whatever the exact figure is, I have spent a lot of time with these dudes. In fact, I consider them appendages. They detached themselves from my wife’s insides, entered the world and immediately attached themselves to my outsides. I’ve installed a screen door while holding one of them in my arms, changed the sheets on the bed with a kid clinging to my back and made dinner each night with one or the other wrapped around my ankle.
All of this time spent together may explain why I go around town uncontrollably humming the “Thomas & Friends” theme song. “Stop humming,” I remind myself. “They’re two, they’re four, they’re six, they’re eight. Stop humming! Hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm. STOP HUMMING, MAN!” But even yelling at myself doesn’t work. I just keep humming.
Long hours with the kids might also explain why I stare menacingly at the childless, middle-aged woman who strolls stress-free, coffee in hand, through the grocery store. “Lucky,” I jealousy sneer at her under my breath, as my younger son knocks down a display of apples.
But this fall, things have changed. My oldest son is off to full-day kindergarten and my 2-year-old has started nursery school two mornings a week, which… means… that… YES! YES! YES! I have two hours, two mornings a week, without the kids. Holy cow! What will I do?
The possibilities are endless. I have to really stop and think about how to best spend this precious, precious time. Before the kids came along, an hour or two was nothing. It was as expendable as an extra dime in your pocket. It could be easily spent staring at the computer screen in your office, dreaming about the weekend. It could be squandered, without a shred of shame, watching a couple episodes of VH1 “I Love the 80s.” Now, two hours are two “oh-my-gosh-I-have-two-free-hours!” hours. They’re gold.
So, I think.
First, I think BIG. In two hours, I could probably solve some serious world issues. Let’s see, maybe put together a Middle East peace plan. Devise a strategy to deliver excess food to those around the world who need it. Figure out a way to stop that Borat guy from making more movies. Well, these matters will take more than two hours.
So, then I think utilitarian. I could clean this house from top to bottom. Give it the works. It seems that I never have enough time to really make this place sparkle — now I could. My wife would be so happy. Nah. I don’t feel like cleaning right now.
But maybe I could start a new career in those two hours. I hear that there is a lot of money to be made in home-based businesses. I would have to break some barriers— there aren’t too many guys selling Tupperware, kitchen tools and home essentials. Does anybody out there feel like being guilted into buying a $29 candle from me? Let me know.
Of course, now that I really, really think about it, I’m starting to cry. My boys are growing up! My little boys! How could they be off to school already? I miss them. I don’t want two hours free yet. I want my boys. Pretty soon, both of them will be at school everyday, all day. They’ll go away to college. Then what will I do? Can you hand me a tissue please? OK, I’m fine now.
Well, hey, lookey there at the clock. Time flies. I have to go pick up the tot from nursery school. What to do with an hour or two? I guess I just spent that time writing this column for you.
Brian Kantz can’t believe he just spent two hours writing this column, when he had a whole “honey do” list to complete before his wife gets back from work. He’s a dead man. Visit Brian online at www.briankantz.com or drop him a note at email@example.com.