Instructions for Care. For a Week. A Whole F-ing Week.

So. We’re planning a trip. Just me. And Tighe. Nate and Sam will stay here. Which means that some poor suckers – in this case, my parents – have to stay with them. And this gem of a blog post is a manual for those poor suckers. Love ‘em so much, and we’re so grateful.



Getting Sam from his crib can be one of the most ego-boosting experiences of one’s day. He’ll be happy to see you, he’ll gather his water and his lovies, tell you “good morning” and that he slept “good.” Grammar is not his thing.

Nate’s wake-up, on the other hand, can be one of the most humbling experiences. Ever. He always starts off in a great mood, but it can flip in an instant. Be on guard! I recommend not making eye contact, not asking him what he wants for breakfast, and not suggesting – no matter how gently – that he get dressed, use the bathroom, or brush his teeth.



I schedule three meals a day. Sam usually has a snack in the morning while Nate’s at school because he gets so excited upon waking up and being reunited with his golf club, lacrosse stick, basketball, etc. that he forgets to eat breakfast. And Nate usually has a snack when he gets home from school because he’s “just so hungry for some reason.” If you check his lunchbox, you’ll notice that most of his lunch remains.



I’ll stock up before you get here, but inevitably you’ll probably need to travel to at least three different stores throughout the week in order to supply them with everything they eat. There’s a grocery store three minutes from our house – that’ll have most of your staples. Then there’s Trader Joe’s – produce is cheaper and usually better quality there. Plus they have the “chocolate chip granola bars from Trader Joe’s” that Nate likes. It’s also one of their favorite places “in the whole world.” And finally there’s a grocery store about eight minutes away, in Brookside, that has the Blue Diamond Habanero BBQ almonds that Tighe eats. True, he’ll be away with me that week, but you better pick some up anyway, so our credit card doesn’t spontaneously combust due to a lack of regularly scheduled purchases.



Good luck. Just good luck. I consider it a success if I have a zero sum day: the house is no dirtier than it was yesterday, but no cleaner either. Other successes: everyone survived until bedtime! Yes, parenting has lowered my expectations for a good day. And don’t worry about the bloodstain in front of the coffee table – that’s been there, Sam’s blood. Nor need you worry about the poop stain next to his crib – that’s been there, too, Sam’s poop.



Wally requires two meals a day, two cookies – one in the morning, one in the afternoon – and a brisk, four to six mile walk. He should also be bathed and brushed and given a teeth-cleaning bone each evening. No, no, we’ve never done this. Ever. But it’d be nice if you could get it done.

Driving the Car

It’s a big car. Really wide, really long, all of it. It only fits into the garage by backing it in. It’s 69 inches wide. I mean, I’ve never measured, but that’s what Ben told me. Yeah, Ben. He lives down the street. You’ll send Nate and Sam to his house when you need a break. I’ll tell him to be ready by hour #3.



I usually limit TV to one hour per day for Nate and Sam, but this amount is inversely related to the amount of sanity left in my being and goodness left in my soul. Yes, I know that TV is “bad” for them. But I also know that doing voices of “bad guys” for nine straight hours is bad for me. And I’ve come to learn that I can be a lot more productive – making dinner or peeing in the toilet alone, for example – when they’re both sitting in a trance in front of the telly. Thus, the TV has to be on sometimes. 



Yes, Nate probably did just call you a “dummy.” Or a “dumb-butt,” whatever that is. I would handle it by doing what we do: ignore it. It’s really, really effective. Which is why he continues to do it. Loudly. And often, in public. Your other option is to put Nate in time-out.

Sam, on the other hand, will put himself in time-out, usually for some sort of infraction against Wally. He seems to think time-out’s a rite of passage, and he’ll sit there for a few minutes, swinging his legs back and forth, smirking with pride and probably gifting you a sly wink. When he gets up, he’ll apologize to Wally and then do it all over again. See? Wally could use some special attention.

Also, when they wrestle/fight/brawl/clash/bicker/riot/tussle/squabble/cage match – really, assign any verb you like, they all fit at various moments – don’t worry about it. They think they’re training for something. And neither is really strong enough to inflict much damage.



After baths and PJs, we read three books, no more, no less. Nate will try and negotiate this. Hold firm! I usually pretend that the “three books rule” is some mystical edict that I can’t disobey. And yes, re-reading one of the three books is also a violation of that edict.


The Neighbors….

…have never called the cops on us. Let’s keep this streak alive!