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Small Wonders:

A day in the life of Dad

May 23, 2009|By PATRICK CANEDAY

After a couple of gut-wrenching rounds of rock-paper-scissors, it was decided that my wife would be the one staying home when we started having children. Each day as I left the house for work she would say to me, “There will be a time when I’m working and you will have to take care of the kids all day.” As children wailed in the background, her desperate cling to sanity was lost on me.

Until now.

As she kissed me goodbye and skipped gleefully away from the house one recent Saturday morning, I thought, “How hard could it be?” Then, while my two daughters began their daily SpongeBob SquarePants marathon, the scope of the day’s itinerary came over me like a dark cloud: breakfast, get dressed, gym class, change clothes; 5-year-old’s birthday party, lunch, home, change clothes; 8-year-old’s birthday party, change clothes; market, dinner, change clothes; play, bathe, pass out. Change clothes.

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While the kids readied themselves with a breakfast of champions (milkless Frosted Flakes, a glass of strawberry milk and a turkey sandwich) I mentally and physically prepared myself. Using Mapquest I charted our course to find every coffee house, Jamba Juice, public restroom, police station and child protective services office on our route. I put on my favorite cargo pants; the extra storage would be needed to carry the toys, tissues, trash, half-eaten candy and any severed body parts the day would bring. I did a few sets of deep knee bends while holding a 50 pound sack of potatoes. Packed some snacks, water, extra underwear (mine and theirs) and we hit the road.

Gym class is a safe warm up to the day — calisthenics before the race ahead. I ask to join their class, but am denied by their spunky 16-year-old instructor. If I pull a hamstring today, I’ll know who to blame.

Afterward we have 20 minutes to change clothes and get from Burbank to the Glendale Galleria. When it comes to life skills, teaching one’s children to change clothes in the car cannot be undervalued. Right up there with dialing 911 when Daddy is about to use power tools.

We arrive at Build-A-Bear Workshop with just seconds to spare. Twenty gleeful and sugar-deprived 5-year-olds are running in circles as the gate opens. Quickly the store employees wrangle the kids into breathless obedience. This being the first party of the day, the clerks are friendly and chipper, but I fear for them by mid-afternoon.

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