I thought I was being all clever in naming this post after the 1970’s spy thriller starring Robert Redford called “Five days of the Condor”. The only problem was that when I looked this movie up on IMDb the title is actually “Three Days of the Condor”. Even stranger, the original novel on which the movie is based is called “Six Days of the Condor”. Why did it get changed from 6 to 3? I imagine some movie executives sitting around a table saying “Six days? That’s too long. You won’t get an audience to stay with this guy for six days. Let’s split the difference and call it three days. Get right into the action. Three days, what’s that? Like a long weekend, right? Everyone likes long weekends. But six days? That sounds like a work week PLUS you have to work Saturday. Nobody likes working Saturday. We want people to get see our movie on Saturday, not thinking about overtime. Why is the guy’s name Condor anyway? Are there any real condors in this pic? Do we use a mechanical condor like Spielberg did for “Jaws”? That thing was a nightmare. Where’s my cocaine?”
Then I thought about that Blue Rodeo song “Five Days in May”, but this is April, so I thought “Five Days in April”, but that kind of sounds like a lame-o romance title or something. Since I’m lazy, I’m going with “Five Days of the Audrey” even though it makes no sense.
So yeah, my wife went to Toronto for FIVE DAYS with a friend to visit some family and to attend a Death Cab for Cutie concert. As I’m writing this, they are probably getting ready for the show. As the plans came together, I realized I would be left in charge of our 3 year old daughter, Audrey, for the whole time my wife was away. I arranged to take a couple of days off work and things were all set. As it got closer to trip time, I realized that I have never been left alone in charge of our daughter for more than a single day, and never overnight. I realized I was the “back up parent” like Clooney in “The Descendents”, I movie I have NOT YET SEEN but have gleaned as much from the trailers. So now was my time to shine, to show the world that I could actually be responsible enough to look after a human child. Here’s how it went down:
Safely delivered my wife and our friend to the airport. The clock starts. Arriving home a half hour later, Audrey beat me to the door and climbed up the back stairs herself. She rambled inside and by the time I got in and got my shoes off I heard a blood-curdling scream coming from the living room. I rushed in to find her sprawled out on the floor, apparently she had tripped over her Fisher-Price car garage, a toy that used to be my wife’s when she was a kid, before people cared about child safety so much. I’m sure she was fine but I checked it out and hugged her for a bit. She did have a red mark on her face near one of her eyes, but that was there yesterday and my wife already saw it. It’s a little like when you rent a car and you walk around the car with the guy noting scrapes and dents. I was glad to note that the red mark was “pre-existing”.
“Where mommy?” she said. When I tried to explain that she was going on an airplane to a different city she said, “Me go too?” Um, no. This brought on another round of tears. I glanced at the clock. 8:25 am. Their flight wasn’t leaving til 8:30 am! They were still on the tarmac and here we already had our first freak out. I’m just glad it wasn’t me doing the freaking.
Soon after I got a call from my wife’s Mom, inviting Audrey and me for supper. She also hinted that it would be nice if Audrey slept over at her place. “Well, well”, I said to myself. I wonder how that would work? It kind of screws up my “looking after Audrey for five days straight” plan, but I’m not proud. It sounded like this would be something really fun for Grandma and Grandpa to do, and so I agreed and told Audrey about it. She got really excited and started talking about “sleeping bags” and “packing a suitcase” and stuff. Sleeping bags? Where did she ever hear about sleeping bags? My only regret was telling her so early in the day because I had to endure “We going to Aggie’s (grandma’s) house now?” at regular intervals throughout the day. So Day 1 was kind of a cinch. Supper was taken care of, and I had already made plans to pick up Subway and head over to a co-worker’s house who has been off recovering from surgery. She’s kind of like an unofficial aunt to Audrey and she hadn’t seen her in a while, so I thought that would cheer her up a bit. Somehow going to my co-worker’s house turned into her picking up subs for me and coming to my house for lunch. She felt like an outing anyway, and she thought Audrey would be more comfortable in her “natural habitat”.
Before we headed over to Aggie and Aggo’s (grandpa’s) place, Audrey wanted to pack her suitcase. I made sure there were enough diapers and changes of leggings, shirts and pants, while Audrey made sure she had enough “friends”. Her raggedy Anne doll made the cut, as did “little Mah”, a dog, and “Baby Heehee” a small monkey. Her old favourite, Daddy Heehee, was not included on this adventure. Seeing him in Audrey’s room before we left, I couldn’t help but think he must have felt like Bill Murray in “The Darjeeling Limited“.After supper, we got Audrey settled into the “TV room”. She was going to sleep on the couch and sure enough, there was a sleeping bag waiting for her! She seemed quite content to settle here, so I said goodnight and headed off, catching the late show of “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” on the way home, a spontaneous treat I cannot usually offer myself. A quick aside: Ghost Protocol was kind of goofy, and it seems like the Mission Impossible franchise may be falling into the opposite pattern of the Star Trek pattern. Are you aware of this? It’s generally agreed that the even-numbered Star Trek movies (Wrath of Khan, Voyage Home, etc) are far superior to their oddly numbered counterparts. The opposite seems to be coming true for MI. In my opinion, number 1 and 3 are amazing, but 2 and 4 fall short of the mark. There were moments of coolness, but it’s like someone ordered the movie with extra cheese or something.
All in all, not a bad day. I had lunch and supper provided to me, AND I got to see a movie. This parenting thing is A-Okay!
What will tomorrow bring?
Temporarily relieved from my husbandly and fatherly duties, I still woke up at the usual time. Audrey wasn’t being delivered back to me until after lunch so I had a whole morning to myself! What would I do? To my horror I discovered that we were completely out of toilet paper. How does a grown man run out of toilet paper? I have only myself to blame. I do the weekly grocery shop and I pride myself in always keeping two things in stock: paper towels and toilet paper. We use a lot of both around here but somehow the system broke down. I guess I was going toilet paper shopping on my morning off! When Audrey finally did get here, she was so tuckered out from her over night with the grandparents that her grandpa had to carry her in. We laid her directly in her bed, jacket and all. It feel really great to have her back in the house, for some weird reason. She slept for four hours! When she awoke, she was disoriented and did nothing but scream for a half an hour. She was still screaming when her other grandma showed up to look after her so I could get to choir practice. I literally looked after her for exactly one half hour, and during that time there was nothing but screaming. I did change her sheets after her nap, though, so that’s something. One thing I am finding is that I don’t know where any of her stuff goes. Usually when I change her clothes, I just kind of leave them close to the change table, and reach into her dresser for something new. To my chagrin, that doesn’t quite work when you’re on your own. The pile of her stuff next to the change table is growing, and her stockpile of clean clothes is beginning to dwindle.
Happy 420 everybody! Smoke ’em if you got ’em! Even I know taking my three-year old daughter to the 420 rally today would be a bad idea. It reminds me though of my one real experience with marijuana and it wasn’t pretty. Back in my university days I was at a house party. Actually it was in an apartment with a balcony; I don’t know if that makes a difference. The place belonged to a friend of mine but for some reason I didn’t know most of the people at the party and I wasn’t feeling especially social that night so I slipped away into his bedroom where I knew he had his computer and played some of this Star Wars computer game. I believe it was called “Dark Forces”. Well, as I was playing this game, a bunch of people at the party started smoking marijuana and the second-hand smoke began wafting into this tiny bedroom. I had the door closed and the lights out so I wouldn’t be interrupted playing this game, so I didn’t actually realize what was happening. But in effect I was hotboxing all this marijuana and little by little I started to feel kind of funny. Maybe it was the combination of already consumed beer, mid 1990’s computer graphics, and this bedroom full of marijuana smoke, but I got all tired and sleepy. It was winter and so my friend’s bed was covered with parkas and overcoats. I climbed underneath all of them and promptly feel asleep. No one missed me from the party and it wasn’t until some girl came in to the room at the end of the night to get her coat that I was discovered. I don’t know who was more surprised, her or me.
So yeah, the rally is out.
This is actually the only full day and night that I have with Audrey, so I should really make this count. I want to do something fun like go to the zoo or the children’s museum but I have a little anxiety about being out with her alone. My main concern is bathroom breaks. Not hers. I’m fine with changing her out and about. It’s pretty easy to find a men’s room with a change table, and I’ve done that lots of times before. It’s me I’m worried about. What if I suddenly needed to use the washroom? What do I do with her? Do I bring her in with me? How do I get her to stay put while I attend to the call of nature, as it were? I mean I’d probably be fine, right? I mean I should be able to last a few hours, but even thinking about it gets me worried and creates a sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So never mind all that. We ended up going to this nice new playground in a park a short drive from home. Apparently it was a city-wide in-service today so the place was packed. One of the slides was closed for repairs, but all they did was put a few ribbons of yellow CAUTION tape over the entrance. Well, it will take more than a little plastic to stop a gang of kids, especially the ringleader who appropriately enough was wearing a “I DIDN’T DO IT” t-shirt. He also had several strands of the yellow tape tied around his head like a headband. You really can’t turn your head for a moment in a place like this, because before I knew it, Audrey was at the top of the broken slide about to descend. You should have seen me scramble up the hill to the top of the slide, pushing toddlers to and fro, rescuing her before she slid to her possible doom. Not only was the slide broken, it had an “AGE 5+” attached. Aside from that small incident, we both had a great time there. We spent a couple of hours at the park and Audrey fell asleep on the way home. Another epic three-hour nap allowed me to get a load of sheets and towels done in the laundry and supper started. Audrey was hardly up before “bed talk” commenced, along with bath-time, teeth brushing, book reading and the final songs and stories bedside. I was in front of the TV ready for a Ryan Gosling marathon by 9:00 pm.
Perhaps the easiest day of them all. Awoke at 7. (More accurately, was awoken at 7 by a familiar “DADDY!” shouted from the other bedroom). I had her dressed, fed and in the car and over to my Mom’s by 8:30 a.m. where she was to spend the whole day and sleep over at night. I had a day of work and party at night. Actual “looking after Audrey” time? 20 minutes
Day 5 (Final Day)
I was on the home stretch. I picked Audrey up at my Mom’s in the morning and headed off to church with her. Nothing could stand in between now and tonight, right? Normally we just walk over, but we drove since we were running late. I don’t know was really happened at my Mom’s, but Audrey was acting like she didn’t get a wink of sleep the night before. We were recognizing our choir director’s 25th year with us, and just before the service started I was asked to fill in and make the presentation to her. I thought it would work out because Audrey would be down in the nursery, so I said “Yes”. I don’t know if the toll of having her Mom away finally caught up to her, or whether she just didn’t have a good sleep, or whatever, but I’ve never seen Audrey so clingy and needy. It didn’t help that she was determined to go hang out with Steve, a friend of ours. Once Audrey gets something in her head, you can’t change it, and for the first part of the service all I could hear was “I want to go see STEVE” over and over again. When she made a break for the front of the church in mid-prayer, I knew it was time to take her down to the nursery. The only problem was that once I was down there, Audrey wouldn’t let me leave. I tried to get her to play with the other kids in the nursery, but no dice: even when Steve’s wife and kids came down. No one would do but Steve, apparently. I was beginning to give up on my ability to make the presentation when who should appear at the nursery door but Steve himself.
“Good LORD, what are you doing down here?”, I said.
In a bit of good fortune, one of Steve’s sisters alerted him to the fact that I needed to be up in church and that Audrey wouldn’t leave me for anyone, except him! Audrey couldn’t have been happier, and I bolted up to the back of the church just as the presentation speeches began. I made my way to the front, said a couple of off-the-cuff remarks, handed over the card and gift on behalf of the choir and congregation and high tailed it out of there. I was only gone from the nursery for five minutes tops. Needless to say, when we got home after church, Audrey actually asked to go down for a nap and she was out of it for the rest of the afternoon. She stirred briefly for supper and was out again. She was still sleeping when my wife got home. I calculated the actual amount of time that I needed to look after Audrey, not counting the times she was with her grandparents or sleeping/napping and it worked out to about 10 hours. For this past week, between my wife and me, it’s debatable as to which one was more of a tourist.