Mr. Blister Goes to School

30 04 2008

Today marks a major turning point in the life of the Blister family. Today is Mr. Blister’s last day at his job. Tomorrow will be his first day of unemployment in nearly eight years, and for the first time since the kids were born, he’ll be allowed to sleep as long as he wants, have beer for breakfast, and spend the afternoon shopping for the ultimate symbol of a man of leisure: a new set of golf clubs. And the day after that, he’ll be thrown into a grueling month long intensive education program preparing him for life as a househusband / stay-at-home-dad, during which, he will quickly realize that he can kiss sleep-ins, beer, and golf goodbye.

 Mr. Blister graduated with honours from the prestigious Hard Working Dad program, and has successfully completed pre-requisite courses in general housework, feeding and burping, and diapering 101, but he still has much to learn. The core curriculum of the new program includes Selecting Appropriate Clothing for Children; Being in Three Places at One Time; Recognizing the Sound of Trouble (for which he will need the text book ‘Don’t Let the Silence Fool You’); Teaching a Baby to Talk and Walk; Teaching School Aged Children to Shut up and Sit Down; and the ever-challenging practicum, Put Down the Newspaper, Get Used to Cold Coffee, and Learn to Braid My Little Pony Hair. He may or may not wish to participate in an academic research experiment, Lactation Induction for Dads. 

The instructor is a real hard-ass, a professional multi-tasking mother with no patience for rookie mistakes, and plenty of tricks in her rolled-up sleeves. She holds a Ph.d in Early Childhood Necessities (with a concentration in Cry Interpretation and Intervention), a Master’s degree in Distractions (her thesis – Silly Songs, Silly Voices, Silly Faces: What to Use When? – was brilliant, albeit a bit silly) and a Bachelor’s Degree in Housekeeping (in which her major was undeclared, but her minor was definitely Laundry.) I know all of this because the instructor is me. Mr. Blister is being taken to school, Domestic Blister style. And I am sort of freaking out.

We are about to undertake some huge changes, including moving our family half way across the country, and a significant role reversal where I become the breadwinner, and he becomes the sandwich maker. But for the next four weeks, we’ll both be home packing and preparing for what lies ahead as best we can. And I feel like there is so much I need to teach him. I want him to know the most effective and efficient ways of doing just about everything. He needs to know how to help Squiggles roll on to her tummy so that her arms don’t get stuck. He needs to know how to help Roo work on her fine motor skills. He needs to know how to determine when Neener needs a lecture and when she needs a hug. And it will all go a lot smoother if he can grow eyes in the back of his head, an extra set of arms and some breasts. Squiggles really likes breasts, they are the only thing that really calm her when she is upset. But I don’t think we have enough time for all that. So I’ll focus on the basics – teaching him that Squiggles “ahhhhh ahhhhh” cry means “Play with me” and her “uhhhhh uhhhhh” cry means “I pooped in my pants.” I’ll show him a dozen or so different craft projects to while away a rainy afternoon. I’ll demonstrate my secret recipe for mac and cheese. I’ll teach him how to read Dr. Seuss books the right way, because make no mistake, there is a right way and a wrong way to read them. I’ll stress the importance of washing all faces before venturing out in public. I’ll give him coaching sessions on how to manage all three kids by yourself in an unfamiliar environment. I’ll tell him how to make friends with other parents. And I’ll give him a refresher course in First Aid. Just in case. 

Half way through this last day of work, the Mister came home for lunch, lamenting the training of the new employee who will be taking his place. He spoke of all the information he was trying to download into the brain of the new guy, how his voice was hoarse from talking, and the new guy looked like his head was about to explode from information overload. Immediately, I could relate, knowing that the next month is my big chance to teach my husband everything there is to know about being a stay-at-home-parent. And I know it is going to be stressful for me and overwhelming for him, even before our switcheroo has officially begun. But then Mr. Blister said something interesting, as he shared an epiphany of his own.  

“So I just stopped telling the new guy stuff. I gave him the basics and a few helpful hints, and the rest he’ll figure out, the same way I did. It’ll take a while, but he’ll find his own way of doing things, and it’ll be fine.” 

And then the light went on for me too. I don’t have to teach my husband how to be a stay-at-home-mother. I have to just let him be a stay-at-home-father. I can offer up some of my most sage advice, and let him get some practice over the next few weeks, but then it’s up to him to figure it out. He knows that he can pick my brain for information or ideas whenever he wants, and I know that he is a smart, competent man. He will do things differently, but that does not mean he’s doing them wrong. It will be an adjustment for all of us, and the learning curve will be sharp. There will be times when it’s great, and times when it’s a nightmare. Which is exactly the way it is now. Minus the boobs. But that is ok too. Squiggles will adjust to less boobage one way or another.  

So instead of spending the next four weeks schooling Mister Blister on how to look after the kids, I’ll enjoy the time we have together, this relative calm before the storm. And maybe I’ll work on finding the one thing that will make Mr. Blister’s life as a stay-at-home dad infinitely easier: a boob shaped baby pacifier for Baby Squiggles. It’ll make a perfect Father’s Day present.

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4 responses

1 05 2008
nanny patterson

I have NO doubt that Mr Blister will be a hit with the little Blisters. He’s one of the best I’ve ever seen. All daddies should be like him. Hey! maybe he could teach a class on it.

1 05 2008
nana

The role reversal will be challenging- maybe keep a diary to read at the weddings in later years.of course you will have lots of time to add this to his list.
He is my hero and will be wonderful.
He can play golf when I come for long weekends to visit. This will happen more as the 4 hour drive beats the air travel.

1 05 2008
Lisa

Enjoy the change! Giving up the role, as you seem to be aware, is difficult! But, when you’re working you can go pee when you need to, drink coffee before it’s cold, and have lunch breaks.

1 05 2008
nanny patterson

Dear Amy

I’m so proud of you and Matt.

Love
Poppa

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