I’ve always kind of prided myself on living spontaneously. Any time can become adventure time when you’re willing to just go off and do something just because, and I’ve enjoyed that part of my life quite a bit.
Then, Friday happened. Friday was my son’s second soccer practice, and it rained. I thought, “Hey, he’s only five, maybe they’ll cancel practice, because it’s really raining quite hard.” Turns out I know squat about soccer. We went out and they practiced in the driving rain. I was in shorts and a t-shirt, and I grabbed my umbrella because rain.
Now, my wife is kind of the opposite of me in this regard — she doesn’t stop if the adventuring urge strikes, but she’s way more forward-thinking than I am. So because of her (wonderful) urge to constantly be ready for the worst, we have all kinds of crazy crap in the back of our minivan. This includes (no joke):
- A dictionary
- Two phone books — one to give away in case we happen upon someone who needs one (which has happened more often than you’d think.)
- An inflatable bed, including sheets, blankets, and electric pump that can plug into the car.
- An entire camping-oriented kitchen set including silverware, steak knives, plates, bowls, dish soap, dish rags, dish towels, mugs…the whole kit and caboodle.
- An entire bathroom set including backup toothbrushes, backup shaving set, shampoo/conditioner/soap, etc.
- A set of various liquids the car might suddenly require, including transmission fluid, oil, antifreeze, and others.
- A giant pink fake-velour blanket that we’ve used for everything from huddling under in the cold when the car breaks down somewhere far from home to shoving under the car’s tires to get some traction in melting snow.
- A bag full of long-lasting snacks in case of emergency, currently including all-natural peanut butter and applesauce.
- Not one, not even two, but three swiss-army knives.
- A pile of reusable grocery bags, because you never know when an innocent outing is going to turn into a shopping trip.
- And at least one large, self-defense quality bladed weapon.
- Oh, and a hatchet, because why the hell not?
That’s normal. Sometimes, when we know we have no idea where we’re going or when we’ll be back, we supplement with other added fun. This is important to the story, because without that bit of explanation, the fact that I miraculously pulled a huge pink fake-velour blanket out of the back of our car to sit on during the game might seem like I did some form of proper prior planning (thus preventing piss-poor performance.) In fact, that’s just normal for us.
(In retrospect, the fact that I’ve gotten this far in life relatively unscathed may well be because of my wife’s ability to plan ahead and do crap like that, and my enjoyment of my own spontaneity may well be entirely because she’s around to save my ass from myself. I’ll file that thought for later. )
Anyway, after practice, the boy was cold and wet and we were cold and wet and it was misery, so we went home. It was 6:30 — boy’s bedtime is 8pm — and we had to get ready for his soccer game the next morning. That meant:
- Drying out his cleats
- Drying out his shin guards
- Drying out our shoes
- Washing and drying his undersocks, oversocks, shorts, sweatpants, undershirt, shirt, sweatshirt, and jacket. (Keeping in mind that our washing machine plugs into and entirely occupies the kitchen sink and half of the kitchen, so no cooking and washing at the same time.)
- Cleaning his soccer ball and cleats.
- Packing his soccer bag for the next day, which had to include all of the things that were going to be dried out, washed and dried, and cleaned, along with a ball pump, a water bottle, an extra set of dry clothing, and a bottle of something hot to drink.
- Oh, which meant we were going to make apple cider tonight, too — so we had to bust out the juicer, juice a pile of apples, spice them up, and let them simmer for the night.
- Let’s not forget that the giant pink fake-velour blanket needed drying out, too.
- Oh, and dinner.
- And it’s shower night.
I’m not saying all of this to complain — I’m sure that this is the kind of thing that real parents (and probably lots of other real people) have to do on a fairly regular basis. It’s just my first real taste of the fact that flying by the seat of your pants can, occasionally, end up ripping your ass off. If I hadn’t had my wife around to point out all of this crap to me — which she did by basically listing all of it and saying “You’re a father now, you have to take care of all of it” — I would have had to put my son in wet, smelly clothes from the day before and I wouldn’t have had anything warm for him to drink at his 9AM soccer game.
As it was, because my wife is amazing, we got everything done in time. Boy got to bed, we got to bed, and in the morning, it turned out that it was a brilliantly sunny morning, and we didn’t need half of the OMG–RAIN! gear that we had prepared.
My son scored the first goal of his first real game of soccer, and then spent the entire second half crying because he kept falling down and somehow managed to convince himself that he, personally, was losing despite the fact that his team won the game. Ah, well.
Point being — I’m starting to understand something very important. It was OK, and even cool, to live on the fly, as it were (per se), before. Right up until I started being responsible for someone else’s ability to have fun and do what they wanted to do. At this point, it looks like I’m going to learn to employ my ability to role-play to pretend to be my finicky, fussy, Virgo little boy and predict what he might want or need as he goes to his next thing and lives by the seat of his pants.
Because it’s not just my ass on the line anymore.