As I write this, my five-year-old is laying on the sofa, intermittently coughing and fighting off a mild fever. Some racket involving Mickey Mouse is ruining my 50-inch plasma TV, and my daughter is also watching some kid show on Netflix via my wife’s iPad.
I am still in my slippers, with a load of laundry at my feet and a cup off coffee near me that is going cold. I have three McDonald’s receipts that I need to take online so I can get some buy-one-get-one-free Quarter Pounders. I am still wearing the Seattle Mariners t-shirt that I always sleep in.
This is not how my day was supposed to be.
No, what was supposed to happen was that I would get up, drink some coffee, help my wife get our daughters ready for pre-school, and then spend the rest of my morning alone, with a few hours of unfettered access to the TV, before heading out to the Oakland Coliseum. My Beloved Hometown Seattle Mariners are here for a four-game set against the A’s, and today’s doubleheader included the greatest possible type of game: A weekday afternoon Businessman’s Special. To top it off, the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez, one of the best pitchers in the game, is set to take the mound for Seattle. I marked this day on the calendar when the A’s schedule came out and made plans for an afternoon of day-drinking $11 beers. I even managed to get a first-row seat next to the Mariners dugout.
But, none of that is happening. That’s because my daughter chose last night and this morning as the perfect time to get sick. And since this is me, this, of course, had to occur on the one day that I had planned as a day off to, and for myself.
It probably figures that she would have to get sick today. I mean, I don’t really believe in superstitions…Except for when it comes to baseball and anything that I really want to do…And my plans for a day off at the ballpark combined both of those. Am I surprised at all she is sick today and now, in addition to not getting a day off to myself, I am going to have to eat the $48 I spent on my ticket? [That is, unless someone buys it off of StubHub in the next 20 minutes.] Not in the slightest. This had to to happen because, well, because, that’s why.
As I look over at my daughter, I can’t help but feel sorry for her. After all, she has been coughing on and off since late last night and she was running a slight fever earlier. Logically, and being an adult about things, I know she isn’t feeling well and she can’t help she is sick.
And then, she starts to ask for things:
“DADDY! CAN I HAVE SOME FRUIT?”
“DADDY! CAN I HAVE ANOTHER BLANKET?”
“DADDY! CAN YOU GO DOWNSTAIRS AND GET ME THAT ONE SHIRT AND THOSE PANTS AND COME BACK UP HERE AND DRESS ME BUT I DON’T WANT TO WEAR ANY SOCKS?”
And then, internally, I revert back to being the insanely selfish jerk that I was in my 20s, and which I can still summon on occasion today. And I begin to resent her for ruining my ballgame plans. How many weeks had I been planning on this? Yes, too many, because dealing with kids means you should never really expect anything to go off according to plan. And then you kick yourself for being delusional enough to think that this might just have been the one time everyone gets out of the house and off to zoo/grandma’s/vacation/etc. without someone throwing a conniption fit or accidentally running face first into a wall, thus throwing your plans off by several hours.
To make things even better, this sick-kid curveball today comes less than a week after our three-year-old ruined some plans my wife and I had made weeks ago. The little firecracker got sick at pre-school, I had to go get her, she threw up at home and just like that, our plans to go see a 30th anniversary showing of “Sixteen Candles”, complete with a Q&A session with Long Duk Dong himself, Gedde Watanabe, were tossed into the scrap heap.
And never mind the time last fall when our three-year-old got sick and caused us to cancel a daylong trip up to the Napa and Sonoma wine country to mark our seventh anniversary…
We might as well admit it: Kids ruin a lot of things. And if you haven’t had something spoiled by your kid being sick or throwing a fit at the worst possible time, and you haven’t thought, “Is it too late to drop this little sack of shit off at the firehouse and escape to Mexico?” then you are deluding yourself. Kids are life personified. When they are good, or make things good, nothing is better. But when they mess things up for you, both figuratively and literally, you learn to understand why daddy’s “medicine” came in a bottle labeled “Jack Daniel’s”.
So, when I look at my daughter right now, and knowing that what I see is causing me to miss out on the one baseball game I really wanted to see this year, it’s probably appropriate that I remember a line from former Milwaukee Brewers manager Tom Trebblehorn: “Baseball has got to be fun, because if it’s not fun, it’s a long time to be in agony.”
The same can be said for having kids. And right now, I know the agony all too well.