by Dave Markwell

I began last week with a sense of trepidation, but also opportunity. My wife was leaving town for a few days and I was being left to care for our kids. Solo. Well, I’ve been doing this for a while, so I wasn’t too concerned, but since my daughter recently seems to be migrating closer to the womb than further away, I was a little worried. Her “mommy-love” has resulted in my becoming a bit of an outcast, except when she wants me to serve her. To face this challenge I, in my typical glass-half-full fashion, framed my wife’s absence as an opportunity to connect with my girl, though I knew that this connection would likely involve some yelling and probably some tears.

As luck would have it, the benevolent gods intervened and in a rare, but not unwelcome act of mercy, delivered a savior: my mom. On a sunny Saturday morning, my angel of a mother scooped up my little girl and carried her away for a five day vacation filled with the good stuff that only grandmas can provide. This development left the boys home alone.

This does not happen very often. On a daily basis, we stand as easy targets for our dominant women to steamroll. Our more mellow natures get bulldozed by the intensity and volume of our ladies. We share this position at the back of the line in our home. We suffer in silence, but not alone.

Now, this golden chance to be the true masters of our domain was upon us!!! What were we to do??? Short answer: whatever the hell we want!!! (This is my quoted response to my son asking the question, “What are we gonna do?”) And that’s exactly what we did.

We walked to the Farmer’s Market. We ate crappy food. We sat around on separate couches and watched bad TV. We went to the movies. We did a little yard work. Then, we went golfing. We ate more crappy food and watched more TV sitting on our designated couches. We were at peace in a peaceful home. And it was nice.

Too infrequently do I get the chance to just “hang out” with my son. He is fourteen and has his own program which, as far as I can tell, mainly involves playing video games and cruising around town on his longboard eating ice cream sandwiches. He has these things mastered. Another task he has become quite proficient at is avoiding any work I ask him to do. Here, he really excels, too.

Last weekend, without any outside schedule makers dictating our obligations, we had a chance to find some common ground or common couches, as it were. And it was awesome. We laughed and didn’t yell very much, with the notable exception being his frustration while golfing, which doesn’t really count, because, to my understanding, you’re supposed to yell after shanking yet another drive. I think it’s in the rules. Lots of swearing is also required.

It was really nice connecting with this man-child who is rapidly becoming more man than child. He’s not only a good kid, he’s a good guy. Being a good guy is an important attribute, if not the most important. It felt great to be reminded that my son is a good guy. As a dad, I spend a lot of time being a dad and not as much time being a pal. We were just pals. I didn’t sweat him for leaving his socks on the living room floor, maybe because they were next to mine…but no conflicts distracted us from enjoying our time together. We hung out as buddies and it was awesome.

Well, that ship has sailed. The girls are now home and back to forcing me outside to fake being busy in the yard and my son has sequestered himself in his room. But, it was good while it lasted. When detailing our adventures with my wife, she smiled and shook her head in awe at our lack of productivity. Well, rather than try to explain, I will just chalk this up as another Mars-Venus thing. I can share this page of my life with my son and with a knowing nod to this marvelous boy understand that it was pretty cool.

[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, who extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, you can “friend” Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his exercise company Waterland CrossFit!]

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