Brought to you today without the expressed written consent of the always delightful Katy Perry…
I’ve been a single dad for a bunch of years now. I won’t kid you, it ain’t easy raising 4 kids by yourself. Sure, sure, sure. I make it look easy, the greats always do. But, it ain’t. I like to say most days I’m living on a wing and a prayer. Even though I have no idea what that stupid expression means. I think it’s got something to do with barely hanging onto your sanity. Or some shit like that. Whatever. And what’s with the expression “May the road rise to meet you”? The hell does that mean? How the hell is that supposed to be inspiring? It’s all a bit beyond me.
The kids and I celebrate Christmas day at my folk’s house (on odd years that is, on even years the kids suffer the kids are with the Mother.) A few Christmases ago, I stumbled upon probably one of my greatest parenting triumphs. I’m not bragging here. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve made more than my fair share of parenting mistakes. Like buying the kids Moon Sand. Stick with the Play-Doh, folks. You’ll be much happier. Besides, Play Doh just smells so damn good!
On the car ride over to my parent’s house, this particular Christmas day, Jethro and Jakob were acting up, as per usual. It’s like I’m constantly yelling at these two morons. Wait. It’s not “like”…I “am”! I am constantly yelling at the two of them. I can’t even remember what it was they were fighting about, but it was annoying, and I had enough. I suddenly jerked the van over to the side of the road.
It quickly fell silent. I took a long, deep breath before I turned to face the peanut gallery. The looks on their faces was a mix of horror and of impeding doom.
“Look.” I said, through clenched teeth, after a long moment. “It’s Christmas day. I don’t want to be yelling at the two of you.” Pointing at Jethro and Jakob, I continued. “I want to have a good time at Mumums, too. So, let’s make a deal here. Don’t make me be a “dad” today, ok? I really don’t care what you do. Eat as many cookies as you want. Eat cookies for dinner. I don’t care. You know the rules at Mumum’s. I’m not gonna remind you. You’re free to do whatever you want today, just DO NOT do anything that makes me be a dad.
“In fact,” I continued. “It would be best if whatever room I’m in, you be in the other room.” I looked at each of them. “If we pass one another in a room, it’s: “Hello! How are you?” and we politely move along. Let’s pretend we’re all just roommates, got it?
“I don’t want to be “dad” for the next few hours.” Yes, I repeated myself. You have to say these things multiple times to kids before it sinks in. “I just want to be your friendly neighborhood Jman, ok?” I made eye contact with each of them. Again. “Understand? Are we in agreement, here?”
There was a quiet rumble of consent. I had the feeling they were still waiting for the shit storm, they all were still sorta tense and twitching. “I am warning all of you, though. I want everyone to have a good time, but, there will be serious hell to pay if I have to speak to a one of you about your behavior. Serious hell to pay. Got it?” I looked over to the passenger seat. “Sarah? Understand?”
She nodded her head. “Yes.”
I turned all the way around to the seat behind me. “Jakob?”
“Great.” I sighed. “Great!” I turned around in my seat and started the van back up. I looked in the rearview mirror at all of them. “This is gonna be the best damn Christmas since Bing Crosby tap danced with Danny-fucking-Kaye!”
My mother stood next to me, in the middle of her kitchen. She not so discreetly jerked her head over in Jethro’s general direction, standing at the far end of the kitchen counter. “Jesse. Do you know that Jethro is drinking two cans of soda?”
I looked over at Jethro, as he at me. He had the look on his face that he just got caught looking at porno and was about to get a heap load of shit. “But. But. But…” he stammered helplessly.
I nodded, gave him a quick, knowing smirk and put my arm around my mother. I turned her away from Jethro. “Do me a solid, Ma. Don’t look at him.” Ma glanced at me, as she tends to…like I had lost my mind. “In fact, don’t look at any of them. We all have an understanding for today. They’re not gonna do anything to make me be a dad this Christmas, and I’m not gonna do anything to be a dad.”
She looked at me like I was speaking Chinese. “What are you talking about?”
I just shook my head. “Nope!” I laughed, raising my glass to her. “It’s Christmas! We’re all gonna have a good time.” I glanced behind me. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jethro grin and disappear into thin air with those two cans of soda.
It ended up being the best Christmas ever. Everyone was good and had a good time. And I didn’t have to play the part of dad, either. I’ve instituted the Christmas Theory every year since, and on the occasional birthday/secular/non-secular holidays, as well. That’s not to say I haven’t had to lay an additional warning down here and there, but overall? The Christmas Theory is well on it’s way to becoming the Christmas Law.