I thought I was doing pretty well as a father, alone with three children while Andrea was out of town. They were dressed and fed and their faces were clean, and we were out the door in time to arrive early at the dentists office. Clara had an appointment to replace a cap on her back molar which had been pulled out by a particularly hard piece of candy after the annual Colony Day Parade. After seeing the dentist we would have an appointment with the doctor to have Lydia and Gideon’s yearly check ups. I was parenting. It was working. I was a professional.
So, I strut into the dentist office some twenty minutes early and leaned casually on the reception’s desk. “Yes, I’m a father of three, and I’m here twenty minutes early for my daughter’s appointment. I make only the best choices in life and I have raised my children exceptionally well.” The lady at the counter handed me a clipboard with some forms to fill out.
A few minutes later the door flew open and the dentist stepped into the room and called our name. We walked to the door, shook hands. Clara would be continuing alone from here. Suddenly Clara slapped her forehead. “Oh. Just a second,” She ran back across the room and grabbed her purse. “I forgot!”
“Clara…” I said, “You don’t need your purse to see the dentist.”
“No Dad,” she rolled her eyes and gave the dentist a knowing look. “It’s for after they are done.” She opened the flap and leaned the bag in my direction so I could see the contents. “I have been saving these for when they finish fixing my teeth.” Her purse was bursting with gigantic fluffy white mounds of marshmallows. Millions of them. Overflowing out of her purse and now falling and rolling across the floor of the dentist’s waiting room, while the dentist still stood holding the door open and staring tiredly at me, the father that only makes the best choices in life and raises his children well.
I quickly wrestled the purse full of marshmallows away from my daughter and pushed her through the door, mumbling some kind of apology and avoiding the looks from the other parents circling the room.
Okay. So, maybe I’m not a professional. But I’m parenting. And it IS working. My children were at least still alive, even if I was unable to keep them from playing “Chubby Bunny” in the waiting room of a dentist’s office.
A few hours or so later and we were arriving at the doctor’s office. Everyone was a bit more tired, and a bit more disheveled, but we were alive, and still early. I stumbled through the door and leaned awkwardly on the receptionist’s desk. “Yes, I’m a father of three, and I’m here ten minutes early for my children’s appointment. I sometimes make okay decisions in life and I have raised my children mostly fine.” The lady at the counter handed me a clipboard with about twenty forms to fill out.
I sat down and tried my best to answer all of the questions while periodically lunging to stop Gideon from throwing his basketball into the fish tank. Clara told me she had left something in the car and asked permission to go back and get it. She had prepared a craft to do while she was in the waiting room.
“Of course you can go, just hurry in case the doctor comes back while you are gone.” Maybe I could salvage some pride by having my oldest sitting in the corner quietly knitting a sweater when the doctor came to call our name.
Unfortunately the door flew open moments after Clara had left the building. “James?” Said a voice. I stood and introduced myself to the kind gentleman.
“I’m afraid my daughter just ran to the car. She’ll be here in a moment.”
We waited. It wasn’t long until we saw her brown hair rush past the window on the far side of the room. Then the front door flew open and Clara charged towards us, mouth open in a massive smile, her hand held victoriously aloft with her “crafting supplies”. In her hand was a glistening pair of 6-inch long scissors which had disappeared from our kitchen several days ago.
I glanced at the doctor who was recoiling back into the doorway with a look of pure horror, as if he were unsure who in the room this little monster intended to kill. I quickly dove in Clara’s way, and pried the scissors out of her hand. then I struggled to find a pocket somewhere that I could hide the weapon before anyone else in the room saw it and called the police.
“Dad! I need those for making my string necklace!” I held my hand over her mouth, and then smiling shyly I realized I was still holding the scissors in that hand and threw both hands behind my back, attempting to act casual.
Later that night I stood in the bathroom with the door locked. A pair of kitchen scissors still protruding out of the breast pocket of my coat, wondering where the potato bag full of marshmallows had ended up.
“Hello,” I said to my reflection. “I am a father of three…” there was a loud crash upstairs, “…maybe. I make only questionable choices in life and my children are lucky if they don’t lose all of their teeth at the dentist, or die in some freak accident in the waiting room of a doctor’s office.” I turned off the light and tried to ignore the loud knocking on the door as I stood in the dark and took three long, deep, breaths.