I don’t know how single mothers or fathers do it. Listen, I don’t mean to complain (first world problems and all), I love spending time with my daughter. Just this past weekend was exhausting. My wife had gone out of town on business and we usually go with her, but this weekend we couldn’t. So I stayed home with my daughter for four days. I have new respect for the people raising children on their own. I’ll explain it in a sports analogy, you see my wife and I have double coverage on our only child. Works out well, what I miss (and I miss a lot) my wife picks up and runs with. We always have each others back. Then there is the one on one, or man to man (father to daughter in my case) which I did this weekend. Then there is zone defence, this is what happens when you are out numbered by anything more than two, you just cover what you can and let the lord of the flies mentality take care of the rest. I can’t even imagine.
I have watched my daughter in the past, it’s not like I’m a deadbeat dad or anything, I just find the disparity in energy between a middle aged man and a 6 year old to be a little unfair. They are like little Energizer bunnies, I can’t remember the last time I did so much pretending, I was channeling Pacino, Redford, Sponge Bob, Pigs in Space and even a little Mary Tyler Moore (don’t ask, long story). And my daughter being the control freak she is, would constantly critique my work while simultaneously writing the script and jumping from couch to couch with the grace of…well a six year old. Creatively I was challenged.
Then there is keeping this daughter of mine entertained. I ran out of stuff the first day so I had to dig deep. I took her to see Chipwrecked at the dollar theatres. If you have no Idea what this is, then you’re lucky. It is the latest Chipmunk movie starring Alvin, Simon, Theodore and the Chippettes. My little girl loved it and decided this was now her new favourite, so we had to watch the Squeakwel, the second movie in the franchise (we are working our way backwards). I don’t recommend two Chipmunk movies in a 48 hours span, half way through the second movie my ears started to bleed and a raging headache ensued. But the songs were great! Chipmunk version of Vacation, too good. I bought her water guns and a bonsai tree, went swimming, we had sushi and popcorn, chocolate and ice cream and that was only day two, but day four I was spent, nothing in the tank.
Then there is the simple task of going to the bathroom. She is old enough that I can’t take her in with me into the guys bathroom, but too young to leave in a crowded mall outside the bathrooms. I’m sure she would be fine, I just have trust issues, especially when it comes to my daughter. I would hold it until we got home before I would take care of business. I swear my bladder stretched to 5 times it’s normal size. Like the Grinche’s heart, but grosser and more painful.
Then there is feeding the bottomless pit that is youth. They eat all the time, and in my daughters case, have very specific tastes. It pays to know what they like and don’t like, because you just end up cooking twice and eating what they don’t eat. I felt like a big stuffed short order cook all weekend. Order up!
So to all of you single parents, I take my hat off to you, especially those of you who are outnumbered. It is a hard road raising children, but in the end worth every second, even if you have to sit through hours of Chipmunks and star in a Littlest Pet docu-drama, just spending time with them is reward in itself. So in closing I will leave you with the wise words of Lionel Kaufman – “Children are a great comfort in your old age and they help you to reach it faster, too”.