04 May 2012

Man to Man

I’m not the biggest aficionado of . . . the sport, so I didn’t entirely understand the reference when I first heard it. When we were awaiting the arrival of our second child, and on the rare occasion that we expressed to outsiders our concern about being able to handle the new dynamic, we often heard, That’s easy, That’s still man-to-man defense. It’s not like zone.

I guess I still don’t know what any of this means.

It’s amazing to me how insanely difficult it is to get out of the house. For anything. For any reason. There’s just so much stuff, for one. So much stuff. Like, so much stuff that it requires multiple trips from the house to the garage to load the car. To go to, like, the grocery store. Ridiculous.

This week, I was recruited by the wife to accompany her and both our children on a class field trip for the Doozer’s preschool to a real farm. There was no way she was going to embark on this endeavor alone. She wasn’t prepared. I understand. I wouldn’t be, either.

I’m glad to report that we survived. And I wouldn’t even go so far as to describe it as an ordeal. We managed. We were late. Obviously. But we still managed.

And this is our life now. Man-to-man defense. And it does feel like defense. It’s like these two children are the barbarians at the gate, trying to crash our lovely grown-up existence and reduce our world to rubble and chaos. As a result, we must divide and conquer, man up and face them head-on, preventing the complete and utter annihilation of our way of life and well-being. It means devising a divide and conquer strategy on a daily basis, tagging in and out of challenging situations, steeling ourselves to confront these pint-sized terrorists.

So, at the farm, while watching our son clamber over bales of hay, feed a goat, milk a cow, and sit on a very small horse (not ride, mind you, just sit), I also calmed a fussy baby, changed his diaper on a picnic table, and generally kept him occupied. And for the most part, yes, it was a success.

Although, I did discover a downside to this new arrangement. With your focus fixated on both your kids (and possibly even just one at a time), it’s difficult to let in other stuff. You know, for instance, the directions of a farmer on how to properly feed a pig. Which is kind of important information if it is something that you have never done before—and are going to allow your three-and-a-half year-old child do it.

So, I only heard part of the directions. And after lunch, allowed the Doozer to stick his hand through the fence into the pig pen and drop part of a strawberry and a wrap onto the ground. And as the giant pig charged across the enclosure toward my son’s outstretched hand, it dawned on me that Farmer Don might have said something about not doing it this way. About dropping food from a greater height, above the fence. And possibly even to have an adult do it.

Luckily, the Doozer pulled his hand back and watched through the fence as the pig ate the remains of his lunch off the ground, none the wiser. Looking around, I saw no scolding reactions from fellow parents or the wife. That was close. But yes, I’m the guy who almost allowed his son to have his hand bitten off by a giant pig. Yep, that’s me.

So, man-to-man defense at the farm can be qualified as a success. The same cannot necessarily be said of the period later that evening when I was left alone with both children for several hours as my wife attended to what was surely very important business of some kind, as I attempted to wrangle a screaming baby and an overtired toddler at bedtime and feeding time, without the aid of even a small amount of alcohol to help me maintain composure.

But that’s a story for another time.

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