Note: This column appears in the 3/11 issue of The Glendale Star and the 3/12 issue of the Peoria Times
These are almost always the first words my wife utters when she comes home from work on those days when I am responsible for picking up our hopefully-soon-to-be-daughter from daycare.
Typically, her inquisition is a result of our little one wearing different clothes than my wife had dressed her in that morning, a small detail I consistently miss when picking her up. If she is wearing “backup” clothes that means she had either a spitting-up or poop-related accident, and so my wife’s follow-up question is: Where are her clothes? My response to this -– as was my response to the initial question and any additional ones -– is a meek shrug of the shoulders.
This has been a constant source of frustration for my wife. I know she thinks that if our hopefully-soon-to-be-daughter were wearing a potato sack when I went to pick her up, I still wouldn’t notice. And she may be right. Because besides wardrobe issues, I’ve been known to leave bottles, medical devices, and important paperwork behind. And that’s with virtually every person who works at the daycare –- all of them aware of my inadequacies –- trying to help me out.
I’ve managed to brush aside these occurrences in a “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” sort of way. What do you want from me? I’m a dude! I don’t know how to do things! But lately I’ve become frustrated with myself, especially on those occasions when I’m particularly proud or confident in my progress with picking her up from daycare, only to be thwarted yet again by some small detail I had overlooked. Like pants.
It all came to a head last week though. I picked up our little one from daycare no problem. But before we went home I had to stop at the grocery store to grab a few things. When I opened the back door to get her, I was taken aback. She looked so…weird. So weird in fact that I honestly and legitimately -– if even for a split second –- thought that I had taken home the wrong child. I assured myself that was not the case, and convinced myself that her strange look was a result of the way the sun was hitting her in that moment.
We got what we needed at the store and she even managed to charm everyone on the checkout line with her smile. We arrived home just a few minutes before my wife did, and you can guess what her first words were when she laid eyes upon our soon-to-be-daughter, who was happily playing in her jumper.
Turns out, the stretchable headband my wife had dressed her in had dropped from the top of her head to just above her eyebrows –- who knew? -- which had scrunched her eyes down and ballooned the rest of her face. “She looks like Rocky Balboa!” my wife screamed. Ah, so it wasn’t the sun after all. I assured my wife that nobody in Safeway noticed and she replied, incredulously, “You took her out in public like this?!”
When my wife removed it, the headband had left an imprint on our hopefully-soon-to-be-daughter’s forehead, and they both looked at me like I was from Mars. “But hey,” I said. “At least she’s wearing the right clothes!”
I need to get better at this.