Sometimes I wonder if Jeff uses his brain.
I know...I know...He's a chemical engineer....He's a giant nerd....He watches shows like How It's Made and Star Trek while simultaneously reading Popular Mechanics and taking apart the dishwasher. He once asked me to get him an Organic Chemistry textbook for Christmas. He carries a laminated periodic chart in his wallet. So obviously he uses his brain (and was likely robbed of his lunch money on more than one occasion).
What I mean is, sometimes I wonder if he thinks about the short-term effects of say, giving our kids giant lollipops at 8 o'clock at night. Like he did yesterday.
Don't get me wrong; Jeff is a wonderful dad. And after a long day at work, all he wants to do is lie on the floor and let our kids climb all over him as they giggle, squeal, play with his work phone and accidentally call his boss to shriek the word 'Poopy!' at him. Jeff only gets to see the kids for one or two hours tops, and he's determined to squeeze in every bit of goofy fun as he can out of the little buggers before bed time. When he comes home, he isn't in Wind-Down Mode (unlike me, who has been in Wind-Down Mode since two in the afternoon). He isn't desperately trying to coordinate the bath, the jammies, the storytime and the night-time walk perfectly to avoid complete and total Chernobyl melt-down. He'd rather use this time to crank up the stereo and dance around the house, build a couch-fort, play hide and seek, or dole out giant lollipops and quarts of strawberry Quick. The closer to bedtime this happens, the better.
The other night, after I'd done three rounds of battle with Elsa to brush her teeth and was ready to throw her in her crib and keep her door locked for the next three days, I went into her bedroom to find Jeff and Rollie sitting on the floor with my old clarinet case.
Me: What's going on, guys?
Jeff: Momma, will you please play a song for us?
Rollie: Yeah, Momma....Pleeeeaaaase?
Me (sighing): Really? You want me to play for you now?
Jeff: Yeah. I don't think Rollie's ever heard you play, have you Rol?
Rollie: No, I've never heard you play before, Momma.
Jeff: And Momma plays the clarinet really well.
Me: Yeah, like ten years ago.
Jeff: Try ten days ago. Pleeeease play something?
Me: Why do I suddenly feel like I have three kids?
So because I don't want to look like the irate bad-guy here, I obligingly assemble my clarinet and squawk out a few songs to the delight of Rollie and Elsa, who seem fascinated that I can do something other than wipe their bottoms and make Macaroni & Cheese.
But the fun doesn't stop there. Oh no. After a few minutes, Rollie leaps up and starts digging through the closet, emerging with his plastic recorder my parents bought him for his birthday. Then Elsa starts whining until Jeff finds her an old set of maracas to shake around and beat Rollie in the stomach with. Not to be outdone, Jeff drags out the old, battered case from the back of the closet and removes his tenor banjo, which he spends about twenty minutes tuning because he hasn't touched it in a year. This only further fascinates the kids, and they forget making their God-awful sounds just long enough to listen to Jeff make his own. Meanwhile, I make a quiet exit, taking my clarinet with me so the kids won't try to play it and end up with splinters in their lips.
This is the kind of thing I'm talking about, though. God bless Jeff for wanting to spend quality time with our kids, and introduce them to various musical styles (from rusty, out-of-tune Big Band to even rustier and more out-of-tune Bluegrass), but sometimes I just wish his timing were a little better. Like maybe he could decide to hold a music appreciation class for our kids on a Saturday. Or Sunday. Or any time that isn't 8:30 on a weeknight when all I want to do is veg on the couch with him while we keep a running commentary on how gross Andrew Zimmern is. (Side Note: I'm sure Andrew Zimmern is probably a perfectly nice guy, but anyone who drinks Cat Poo Tea--yes, it is exactly what it sounds like--probably does not, at the very least, have the freshest breath.)
I really shouldn't complain too much. There is nothing more adorable than watching my kids sprint down the hallway and yell, "Dadda!" as soon as they hear the garage door opening. And when I see him scoop them up and give them kisses and ask them about their day, I remember how blessed I am to have such a good husband, a good dad to my kids, and a good person all the way around.
But still...the day he starts bringing home Pixie Stix for a before bedtime snack is the night he starts sleeping on the couch. With a banjo on his knee.