Memo From Mac



The Hutchinson News
Hutchinson, Kansas

Dad Builds Character On Mommy's Night Out

Every so often at our house we have "Mommy's night out," (This, according to Mommy, is not often enough.)

Exactly where Mommy goes is somewhat mysterious. It is to CUW, the Guild or the Auxiliary or some such, which I suspect, are organizations that have presidents and vice-presidents and programs.

When Mommy comes home and goes in the bedroom to take off her girdle she gives her report, but it usually is not clear about the presidents or vice-presidents; only about what kind of wall paper so-and-so has in their living room, how Mommy ate the cake and ice cream although she knows she shouldn't have; and did I know that so-and-so is pregnant?

I always look forward to Mommy's night out since I have read that all fathers should have periods of intimate relationship with their sons, undisturbed by the mother influence.

Some fathers might consider they are merely being employed as baby sitters on these nights and therefore the incidents are of no importance except they save the family 50 cents an hour.

I know better. I know that these are rare opportunities for the working father, who sees all too little of his children, to display both his fatherly wisdom and his domestic talents.

The night starts at the supper table when Mommy announces to one and all that tonight she is going to the Idle Talk society and Daddy is going to take care of the boys.

"I don't want you to go," shouts No. 1 boy who shows promise of being a top sergeant.

"But Daddy is going to . . . "


This kind of thing could crush you except that you know they are just "going through a stage."

No.2 boy, who shows promise of being as fat as his father, is too busy with his potatoes to notice the crisis.

Mommy clears the table, but leaves the dishes stacked, unwashed, by the sink as a gentle reminder that Daddy needn't think he can keep his nose in a book all evening.

(I have a suspicion that mothers secretly hope fathers will have a terrible time just to prove to them how lucky they are to be able to get to the office every day.)

"I will read some books to you," I announce when Mommy goes into dress.

This usually works and both boys haul armloads of picture books into the living room. We start with "Alice, the Giraffe Who Went to School." But before it is finished, Mommy emerges in what, obvious even to No. 2 boy, is her night-out dress.

"Mommy bye-bye?" he cries, incredulous that she should be so cruel and he slithers off the chair arm and gets into position before the front door to put up his battle.

"Daddy is going to play with you. He will give you a bath... "


Just going through that stage.

"Read some more, Daddy," commands No. 1 who knows you can't win and so is becoming sophisticated about it.

No. 2 keeps up the holler until Mommy gets her coat on and plants hurried kisses all around and slips out the door.

At this point I always have a few bad moments, reading to No. 1, comforting No. 2, and keeping a doubtful ear cocked until I'm sure Mommy got the car backed out of the driveway.

We hear the sound of the engine die away. No. 2 sobs at the windowpane. "Read some more," demands No. 1. We are alone. The time for fatherhood to assert itself has come.

"Let's have a bath," I suggest, "and get into our pajamas." This change of pace usually works. It doesn't avert the crisis. It just postpones it. Only problem at first is to hold them out of the tub until they get their clothes off. They throw handfuls of plastic boats, cars, ducks and fishes into the tub. There are never enough for both. They must be fought over.

For 10 minutes they try to drown one another while I perch, like a lifeguard, on the handy stool.

"Okay," I say. "Let's get out."

"No." More splashing.

It isn't impossible to pull two slippery boys out of a bathtub. But it's messy. Worst trouble is by the time you get the second one out the first one has climbed back in. They think it's a game. You lock the bathroom door. Then you chase them around the house with a towel. Wiping consists of a wrestling match. Pajamas are always inside out. The feet, always backward.

"Read some more, Daddy."

I'm tired. Guess it was the long day at the office. "All right. You get in bed. I'll read one more story."

Read story. Say prayers. Turn out lights. Tuck in blankets. Slip out to living room and pick up novel.



"Can I have a drink of milk?"

Get milk. Spill most of it on bedspread.

"Now go to sleep." Mustn't get irritable. That's mother's trouble. Gets too irritable sometimes. Start novel again. Look up, see both boys slinking into living room, dragging blankets.

"We want to sleep out here."

"No!" Chase boys back to bedroom.

"Read one more story, Daddy." Read one more story. Sit half an hour in the dark until I can hear heavy breathing. Back to novel. Then, remember dishes aren't done. Rush to kitchen. Do dishes with one eye on the clock. Also must clean up toys, books and cracker crumbs from living room. Work fast. When I hear the car roar up the driveway, I sweep last of cracker crumbs under chair. Put broom away. Grab novel. Am sitting casually in chair when Mommy comes in.

"Have any trouble?" she asks.

"Noooo, none at all."

"That's nice." She peeks into bedroom. "You should have put on their clean pajamas."

"Couldn't find them."

"Did you make them go to the potty before they went to bed?"

No answer. (How do you make children go to the potty when they say they don't want to?)

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