Monday, May 25 2020

driving, gifts, the poop book, and bad movies




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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone - and happy Memorial Day. I sincerely hope that by the time I’m publishing this, you’re catching up on sleep, and you won’t see the light today for another hour or two. Or perhaps if you’re not one for sleeping in, just promise that you’re doing something fun this morning to celebrate the day off.

I’ll do my best to celebrate the day off with you, but beginning my fourth week of my summer long paternity leave, I feel like I’m living in a perpetual Memorial day, and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to pull my weight for this one.

The sun. The heat. Waking up with swampy, wet air in your lungs. Big crunchy junebug carcasses littered around the deck underneath the porch light. Happy summer, everyone.

Sip. Yesterday started off with a loaf of bread, and what was probably my oven’s absolute worst choke yet. By the time Marissa came downstairs, she could feel the angry tension in the kitchen as I leaned against the oven with my ear to the stove.

“I’m now going on a little over an hour,” I said, glancing at a wooden banneton on the counter which was safely nestling a perfectly proofed sourdough loaf.

“What can I do right now?” said Marissa empathetically.

“Want to take a turn with the oven?” I asked. Marissa handed me miles, and I grabbed a seat on the deck. Rodney was running around the backyard.

That day, I was supposed to take a drive to Rockford, meeting my parents halfway so they could drop off some food and gifts. Keeping Rodney entertained, as well as battling our stubborn oven, soaked up most of the morning, and it was already nearly time for me to leave.

The oven finally gave way, igniting and resuming a gentle roar. I sighed, looking up at the clock. The loaf would have exactly the right time to bake, and I would even be able to leave on time. While the bread baked, Marissa, Rodney, and I ate McDonald’s on the back porch.

“Thanks for driving today,” said Marissa.

“Thanks?” I shot back. “You’re the one who is putting up with the boys by yourself, and Rod has a lot of energy today. I’m just going for a quiet drive through the country.”

As soon as the oven timer rang, I flung the hot loaf in the car and drove off, waving at Marissa and Rodney on the way out. The drive went by fast, and soon I was stopped in the Beef-a-Roo parking lot greeting my parents. My dad tossed me a beer while my mom filled our car with snacks, beer, smoked ribs, and baked goods from the family. It was nice to see my mom and dad again, and all at once I realized how much I missed hanging out with them and my family - really hanging out, without the crutch of a webcam and Zoom room.

“Dude,” I said to Rodney on the phone on the drive back. “Grandma Jane and Grandpa Dirk got you some awesome toys - you’re gonna want to see this.”

After getting home, Rodney wildly tore open the plastic and cardboard on his new Spider-Man action figures, while I put all the new food and beer away.

“I feel bad putting off groceries again,” I said to Marissa. “But it’s already five, and I need to start the grill.”

Marissa nodded. “Want to just have a beer on the porch she asked?”

I lit the grill, nestling my dad’s ribs beside some plump russet potatoes and later a cast iron pan filled with corn. We had a summer feast on the back porch under the warm, muggy sky, chasing it down with my sister’s homemade blueberry cake. Satisfied groans were heard all around.

Back inside, Marissa gave Rodney a haircut and got him ready for bed before shaking me awake from my power nap for a quick story time.

“How was your day today, dude?” I said climbing into bed beside Rodney.

“Yeah - feels good,” said Rodney nodding.

“What did you eat today?” I asked.

“Ummmm…” pondered Rodney. “Mac n cheese?” he said, flashing a grin.

“What did you eat today?” I repeated. Rodney shed his grin and searched his memories. “CORN,” he yelled. “And potatoes. And chicken.” That was close enough.

“And what did you play with today?” I asked.

“New Miles Spider, and Spider car,” he replied, pointing to the new toys on the table. “Dada, I sleep with Miles spider?” he asked.

“No you can’t sleep with the new toy, dude, but you can play with him all day tomorrow,” I said patting him on the leg.

Before bed, Rodney and I read the poop book, which we borrowed from Auntie Kelly to help with poop stress. Our bedtime story marked the third time that day we read the poop book together - Rodney really enjoys it, and I think that bodes well for our own poop training campaign.

“Where is a snake’s behind?” I asked whimsically, reading from the book.

“Right there,” said Rodney pointing at the page, feeling just a little too smart for rhetorical questions.

After putting Rodney to bed, I joined Marissa on the couch to resume our movie pick. At the moment, Marissa and I are competing to see who can pick the worst evening movie. I had just finished putting us through Lucas, the obscure and pointless 80’s movie whose only claim to fame is a cast with Charlie Sheen and Winona Ryder and several scenes shot in the same building as my High School.

To answer my bad pick, Marissa got out the heavy artillery. “I’m going with The Green Lantern,” she said proudly. “You won’t be able to find a movie worse than this.”

And the more of The Green Lantern we watched, the truer her words sounded.

“Why are there like twelve hundred characters in this movie,” I griped.

“Here - Miles needs a change. Want a free excuse to not pay attention to this movie for a few minutes?” Marissa handed me the tired baby.

“He’s just a hot mess tonight,” I said, taking off his swaddle. Miles spit up, peed into the open air twice, and garnished the mess with a squirt of number two, fresh from the tap.

“Wow, that was a bad one,” said Marissa looking down at the chaos.

“It was still better than watching The Green Lantern” I laughed.