Spinning (and Smashing) Plates like a Captain

Eric Brenn On 'The Ed Sullivan Show'

March 15, 2017

As a Stay At Home Dad (SAHD) there are times when I am holding-down-the-fort single-handedly while Emily is traveling for work. When I give her “updates” via email or text I try to depict a cool and calm demeanor (hint: DO NOT use Facetime else risk her seeing ACTUAL reality-TV-chaos in the background!). With my chin jutting out like George Washington, I’ll write… “Yes, Emily, I am Captain of this Household and everything is totally fine!”

But, “holding-down-the-fort” actually looks a lot like that guy on talent shows who is spinning 10 plates on little wooden sticks with an antique vase balanced on his forehead, wobbling-but-not-falling. Yeah, I am JUST LIKE that guy except in my case the plates and vase were spinning for like five seconds and then one of our three dogs ran into me, smashing the plates, porcelain shrapnel from the shattered vase cutting my foot, bleeding, hopping around screaming “IT’S TIME FOR BED, KIDS!! BRUSH YOUR TEETH!!!”

And during those weeks (like this one!) when I am Captain of The Household, it is possible to get into a slump where the “household” seems to be in outright mutiny! “DAD!!!! This pre-made Mac-n-Cheese that you bought at Safeway to make it easier to cook dinner is TOO CHEESY!!!” WHOA!! Hold the phone!!! TOO #$%& CHEESY!?!! No, no teenage daughter, please reserve “TOO CHEESY” for when you are Facetiming with your 13 year old “boy-who-is-my-friend” (because you are not allowed to have a “boyfriend” until you are 30 and have your own apartment!) and giggling and blushing when I come in your room to check on your homework! THAT is “TOO CHEESY!!”

And just when the “Captain of the Household” is almost done with his plate-spinning day, the three dogs will get into the act too. For the love of Pete the Cat, please GO OUTSIDE WHEN IT’S RAINING instead of peeing on the rug(s)!!!! One of my “senior dogs” (Maxwell, 14) has developed a seriously annoying passive aggressive habit of PEEING IN MY #@&! SHOES which is really uncomfortable (and ironic) when I’m LETTING HIM OUT at 3am and sleepily slip my foot into a WARM-BUT-WET shoe!! Kids thankfully are sleeping thru Daddy-cursing-like-a-Marine-sergeant in the wee hours (no pun intended)!

Luckily, being a SAHD means “being there” for your little ones at night. Callan James (5) came into my room late last night, “Daddy, I had a nightmare about the Green Eyed Man!” (Note to the Captain of the Household to stop watching “Bolt!”) . After a little hug, I walked him back to his room, tucked him in, laid next to him, side-by-side, noses almost touching, feeling his little breaths, his eyes closing and then opened, and he whispered, “I love you, Daddy”. BOOM. Plate spinning no longer mattered. BEING THERE. Just being there was the ONLY thing that mattered.

As for those plates, I’ve got ten more back up on those little wooden sticks today. Captain of the Household has everything under control! The plates are spinning! (Just DON’T TELL MOMMY about the smashed ones!).

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