I am writing this missive to you from a park bench at a playground, purple and pink hair half up in a messy bun, wearing a too-large Lisa Loeb t-shirt with an unidentifiable stain on the breast, a pair of gym shorts, and a pair of sunglasses dangling from a strap on my neck so I can see the screen.
I have gone “full dad,” as they say. No, this post will not be illustrated by any photos. Whatever you are imagining is bad enough.
There was a time when I had rules about leaving the house. The dress code was strict. I had a “t-shirts permitted in public” drawer that was kept untainted by over-large band shirts I wear to bum around the house. Dress pants or jeans were the only acceptable bottoms; I would only show my bare legs in a casual setting if the temperature was over 90°. Athletic wear? Only for actual instances of exercise. And certainly not any low rise socks that show my ankles. Offensive.
Hair was to be either spectacularly curly or wrapped up in a bandana. Facial scruff had an allowable limit As for a sunglasses strap … just no.
As dress codes go, I think it was stricter than a school’s but maybe not as hardcore as a religion’s. (I do make frequent exceptions to fetch our mail in my underwear, after all).
Well, it took three years, but toddler wrangling has worn me down. All the time I used to spend on choosing and preening is now spent dressing a toddler, making sure she has juice and a head band and a snack and a change of clothes, and maybe making sure her shoes are on the right feet if time allows.
Me? Again, I’ll point out that I willingly left the house in GYM SHORTS. Yet, I also carry a 20lb bag of toddler accessories including our own toilet paper in case we find the TP on our adventures to be unsatisfactory.
(Philly TP report: Philly Zoo, thumbs down. Longwood Garden, thumbs up!)
I think a large part of it has to do with the weather. Heat wears me down. After serving four years in inescapable heat as a summer camp counselor, I spent the next half of my life scurrying for cover (or a pool) on every hot day. I want none of it – not the sweat, not the sunscreen, not the bugs. I don’t have room in my brain to process all of those annoyances.
(I can’t even tell you a time prior to this summer I willingly wore sunscreen not for the purpose of going to a pool or on a long walk. Maybe Bonnaroo? And, if you recall, I was asking to be airlifted out of that by the second day.)
I knew when I made the choice to stay home that one of the biggest challenges would be keeping things interesting in the hot weather. My mandate to create great memories aside, a toddler’s manic wiggles don’t miraculously evaporate in the heat and humidity any more than they do in the frigid cold.
And apparently my coping mechanism is “not giving a fuck.”