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why i work

my sunday began sometime after 8am but before 9am. marty had already been up for hours. i was taking the three kids on an errand to the hardware store to buy L-brackets to fix our living room's coffee table that had finally succumbed to having multiple children dance on it for more than three years. this was the only item i was buying at the hardware store because i know trips with the three kids have to be quick with the focus on spinning them in circles in the cart or pretending to run them into walls and shelving and not on an itemized list.

after the hardware store, we went to a park. we were at this park the night before. a community organization was having a storytelling event inside an intimate, dome-shaped green house. anthony made it all of seven minutes before threatening the structural integrity of their earthy abode so he and i walked to a nearby park and played in the dark while the others listened to the stories. when we went to leave we found we lost a play car he had brought with him. this is why were back the next morning, to look for the car. when we arrived there were two dads there with three kids between them. two of the three kids were crying and pleading to go home because of the cold. for reasons i was not privy to it looked like home was not an option. within two minutes of arriving my three children were perched on the highest play structure and taunting me, "hey smelly ogre, bet you can't get our biscuits." the games were on. within five minutes the other three kids were part of the mix and we had a rousing game of ogre underway. one of the other dads was a great sport and we took turns chasing and imprisoning the six flushed and screaming children. we did not find anthony's car.

when we arrived home i thought we had an hour before our next event but i remembered wrong and we were actually late so bella, alex and i left the house shortly after getting home. there was a basketball game at the university i work at. two of my former students are on the team and i hadn't seen them play so i wanted to catch them before the season ended. before going to the game though bella, alex and i stopped at one of the campus dorms which serves one of the best brunches to be had in the zip code and possibly the metropolitan area. we seemed to arrive at the start of the rush because the lines were pretty deep. while waiting bella noticed that the students were standing around in tank tops and shorts (it was rather cold outside). she asked me if none of these kids mothers taught them how to dress for the cold. i explained that the kids lived in the building and didn't have to go outside to get here. i explained that it was like our house and that the bedrooms were upstairs and the kitchen was downstairs and they just got out of bed and came down and we were actually guests in their home's kitchen. during our chat alex saw a guy wearing huge furry, blue slippers that were shaped like bloated tennis shoes. alex frantically tugged on my pantleg, discretely pointed at the student (who was staring right at him) and said, "dad, there's something wrong with that boy's feet." bella set things straight for him. and then when we got up to order and bella saw the potpourri of options, she exclaimed with conviction that she wanted to live in this dorm and she wanted to live in this dorm right now.

i've had brunch here before, on days i've gone into the office on sundays. i always ordered from the omelet station which for every other meal of the week is the stir-fry station. today because the kids wanted waffles and pancakes we were in a different line. as we got closer and better saw the options, ambitions and appetites grew. at the end of the line i wound up getting handed five plates of food which consisted of pancakes, chocolate-chip waffles, sunny side up eggs, over easy eggs, toast, egg sandwhich, hashbrowns and sausage. freshman fifteen my ass. i divided the plates up between the three of us, told each child to use two hands and pointed them towards the cashier. the second i lifted my plates alex began yelling at me. from his tenor i thought something terrible had just happened.

what! what!

the butter. my butter. you're dropping my butter.

the big ball of whipped butter on top of his pancake had, in its melting state, slid from the top center of his pancake to the side of the pancake and got caught on the lip of the ceramic plate.

alex. i'm not going to drop it. but i'm also not going to be able to keep it in the middle while carrying all of this.

ahhh. but i want it in the middle.

i know bud. i'll do what i can do.

we somehow made it the table without losing any plates, food or butter. we ate quickly in that tip-off for the men's game had already happened. inbetween bites (and my trips back for forks, plates, syrup, drinks and a spoon for alex to eat the yolks of his eggs) bella informed me that going forward we would be eating every weekend breakfast up here until she was able to move in for good at least. finally we finished and headed across the street to the gym.

when we arrived it was half time in the men's game. we took some seats next to people we know from our neighborhood. the kids actually watched the game. bella and alex saw a high school basketball game several years ago and it just didn't take. this here was division III college ball and they both seemed intrigued by the spectacle. after the men's game concluded, the women's team was slated to play the same school. bella walked home with some neighbors and alex and i stuck around to watch the full women's game. alex started fading in the second half so i bought him some fritos to keep him awake and he sat in my lap eating them. something i didn't know about alex is when he eats fritos he pulls them out one at a time, studies the fried wafer by rotating it in various poses with his fingers, then holds it up and tells you what this particular one resembles. look dad, this one looks like a letter J. look dad, this one looks like a mustache. look dad, this one is wavy. there was a time i thought those small bags never came with enough chips. i'll never make that accusation again. and for the record, there can't possibly be a fouler smelling food product on the planet than fritos.

after the game alex and i walked home. he requested a piggy back ride at the halfway mark. upon arriving home marty said she had to go to the store. i told bella to get a movie going on the laptop. the kids and i crammed in on the couch for the incredibles. i was asleep before bob and helen took their vows. marty coming home from the store woke me in time to see the movie's final fracas. then it was dinner, baths, reading and bed.

if a study were done on which was more taxing to the human body between being a stay-at-home parent or being a crack addict who sells their body for product, i honestly don't know which lifestyle would prove more crippling. but i do have a half-educated guess.




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