I'm a pretty modest guy. However, today I feel like an actual cape-wearing superhero, and that's because I ROCK the kids' evening routine. Last night I ran it solo, and it went so well that a single white dove actually descended from the sky and hovered above my head. Here's how I did it.
Part I: Dinner Prep
The first thing I had to do was keep Heckle and Jeckle occupied while I cooked. I set Grace up with the LeapPad and she was happy enough. William is in that "I'll play with a bucket of anything" stage, so I filled his wagon with an assortment of child-pleasing junk. He took the wagon apart, tossed the "baby junk" onto the floor, and banged his head into the refrigerator. At least he wasn't screaming.
Meanwhile, I prepared a home-style, reheatable Uno's pizza from the grocery store, just like mother used to make. I also put out some carrots — just for show, as I knew no one would eat them.
Part II: Let's Eat
William lost patience before dinner was ready, so I put him in his booster seat with a few of the carrots, which he enjoyed ignoring. I then sliced the pizza and plated the whole meal. Grace informed me that she only likes "small pizza," so I cut her piece up as directed, and she inhaled it. By the end of the meal it was almost 7:00. I gave them each a pile of berries, cleaned up the kitchen mess, and began bath prep. This is a biggie.
Part III: Baths
The bath routine will only go well if I complete all of my setup prior to beginning. So, I need to:
1. Put William's jammies, diaper, lotions, and towel in the bathroom, tucked under the sink
2. Put Gracie's towel on the stool next to the toilet
3. Lay out Gracie's jammies and diaper in the living room
4. Set up a "William toy" in the living room
5. Bring several books to the living room, placed next to the couch
With the preparation done and the berries eaten, we moved the show into the bathroom. Grace sat on the potty while I plopped William into the tub. She then joined him. I washed them up and gave them a minute to play. I then extracted William, wrapped him in the towel from under the sink, slathered him in lotion, and dressed him. This is when I got a bit self-congratulatory, which a person should never do, because it invites disaster. Keep reading.
Part IV: Post Bath
I brought William to the toys I had set up in the living room, got Grace out of the tub and into her towel, and set her (along with her jammies and lotions) on the living room floor next to him. As I was drying Grace, she noticed that her brother was playing with An Unauthorized Toy. Furious, she snatched it away, which set William off screaming. And I mean screaming.
I'd like to stray from my story for just a moment here. I realize that some of you reading this may not be parents. Perhaps you're expecting your first child. As such, you may not be familiar with italicized screaming. Here's a simple exercise you can try that I think you'll find beneficial. Is there another person with you right now? Good. Have that person stand directly in front of you, just a few inches away. Go ahead, I'll wait.
Now, tell him/her to scream as loudly as s/he can. When finished, have your partner do it again. Repeat for about twenty minutes. For added effect, try cooking dinner and talking on the phone while this is going on. To really enjoy yourself, try it again in a public place, like the grocery store or a restaurant. Finally, if your partner is willing, have him pee his pants. Or poop.
Having fun? Okay, back to the story.
Part V: Wrap It Up
With the crisis over and the kids dressed, I propped them on my lap and read their stories. Then it was kisses and hugs, teeth, and bed. By 8:15 I was on the couch, watching Survivor (which TiVo had been recording, so I didn't miss the intro).
Now for the reality check. It may never go this smoothly again. For all I know, tonight will be one of those nights that prompt me to stare at my passport and bemoan my life as the kids' indentured servant. If so, I'll remember last night, that I did it, that the kids love me, and that I love them too.
Or maybe I'll fly to Jamaica.