Tonawanda News — Quite honestly, I don’t know what the frick to do right now. As I write this, it’s about 2 a.m. That’s right, I’m up late, like I used to be every night in my post-college days. I am sitting on my couch, which is markedly free of Buzz Lightyear toys and Barbie accessories (putting a shoe in one’s backside has a far different, more benign definition in our house).
There are no sounds of children fighting about who gets to play with me or begging me to take them somewhere. Instead, I’m left with only the sounds of the thoughts in my own head (so THAT’S what my inner voice sounds like).
In a little while, I’m going to go to bed. Or maybe a long while. I could play video games until 4. It doesn’t matter since I don’t have a 6 a.m. wake-up call forthcoming (”wake-up call” being Rigby doing his best Superfly Jimmy Snuka impression on my midsection). And in the morning? Only one breakfast to make. I could even skip it if I’m not hungry. Not like I’ll be setting a bad example for anyone.
Penny and Rigby are in Georgia with their mother visiting Uncle Bill and Aunt Brieanna (and my twin nephews-in-waiting). Work obligations prevented me from accompanying them, so that means my only companions for nine days are two dogs.
I have to say it’s ... different ... not having them around.
I also have to say, it’s a little bit fun.
Of course I miss my family. That should go without saying, but I’m saying it anyway just in case anyone should think otherwise.
But still, I usually don’t even get to shower without a potty-time intrusion, yet alone have day after day to myself.
And it’s kind of nice. I mean, right now I am watching a movie where they’re using words — “cable” words — I wouldn’t want the kids to hear. And I have nothing to worry about.
I am going to sleep in my underwear tonight. Hey, no chance of anyone sneaking their way next to me in bed tonight, so I should be as cool as possible (I mean cool as in temperature, not social standing, because I am not Tom Cruise and there’s nothing cool in “that way” about me prancing around in my undies).
And tomorrow? Why, the possibilities are endless. I can wake up as late as I want and ... well, not too late, actually. I should get to the gym and pay a few bills.
But after that? It’s on! I could go to the bar and ... well, I’m not sure we have the money for me to spend on drinks. And I’d really feel great if the basement ever got completely clean.
OK, just a little bit of work and then I’m going to party like it’s 1999! Go to a movie, hit up the poker table at the casino, do the tourist thing at Niagara Falls ... on second thought, I oughta get those whites washed. And the groceries aren’t going to buy themselves.
Wait a minute. I have complete, total freedom here. Why do I keep thinking of ways to quell my mirth? I mean, I can do anything, like the old me did.
I just ... don’t feel it’s right.
Maybe old me ... was wrong.
Maybe the new me — ironically enough, the older me — is too different to return to those footloose and fancy-free times.
Huh. I guess fatherhood really does change us. Even with no mouths to feed, bad dreams to fight off and butts to wipe, I still have this overwhelming sense of obligation to Penny and Rigby. I can’t stop being their dad, quite literally even when I don’t need to be for a few hours.
And, with the opportunity to hang up my dad hat for a few days, I’m not altogether sure I want to.
Sure, I will live differently during the duration of their vacation than I otherwise would. I can’t take the kids to see Body Worlds or that new Seth Rogen movie, after all, so no reason not to take advantage.
But I won’t — I can’t — return to how I lived 15 years ago. Caring for my babies is so engrained in me that I can’t deprogram myself.
And that’s OK.
I will revel in a few more late nights and R-rated flicks, and then I will be Daddy again. There’s no real vacation from that.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Now I’m inspired. I know just what to do — time to check in on Facebook and see the latest pictures from Georgia. I’m sure the kids are having a blast.
Contact Paul Lane at email@example.com.