Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Beer & Parenting — Mutually Exclusive After All

Before Master Blackwell was born, I knew that opportunities to act upon my love of beer and drink would be curtailed — significantly.

This, obviously, was no revelation.

One can't be inebriated while taking care of a child, or so "Johnny-Law-Dog," says. I get it.

So, if one is to enjoy more than just a couple beers, they'd better get a babysitter or make sure a spouse is staying sober. Do one of those two things and you're free for the night.

And while this is true, it's equally true that you are most certainly not free the following morning. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the rub.

Because, as I'm learning in my advancing age, one doesn't have to drink like a college junior on spring break to be smacked down hard by the after affects of partying.

In fact, if the conditions are juuust right, one could consume a fairly modest amount of booze and be hung right-the-hell-over the next day.

Father and son, with matching shirts? Yes, we are that
kind of cool. 
Naturally, I learned this fact the way I'm destined to learn most of life's most painful lessons — the hard way.

Which brings me to Saturday night, a special evening for the Blackwell clan. We attended a beautiful wedding for a great couple. For a change we actually knew the bride and groom, instead of sneaking into their wedding for free dinner and dancing.

Mrs. Blackwell looked beautiful, the boy cleaned up nicely and they let me enter the building without me threatening legal action or pulling my trump card, the old "Do you know who I am?" routine.

So, we got off to a good start.

Several of our friends were on hand, including another young woman who, like Mrs. Blackwell, is pregnant. With a kindred spirit on hand, I didn't feel too bad about checking out on Mrs. Blackwell a bit, by having a few drinks.

As for the boy, well, I wouldn't be the primary caretaker but I'd be a serviceable backup for Mrs. Blackwell, there for all the menial tasks, except driving. (Unless of course we're driving just a couple miles; then it's cool, right?)

For the evening, my worth proved to rest somewhere between mediocre date and a fake fig tree. I told a couple of jokes at the dinner table that landed with a laugh. Then, of course, I got way too comfortable and told a couple that didn't land. Mrs. Blackwell was there, as she always is, to keep me tethered to Earth and ensure I didn't morph into "that guy who made a scene."

Throughout the night, I spent plenty of quality time with the boy and, to his credit, he was a well-behaved little gentleman. He even sat patiently while his mom danced and his dad did his best imitation of dancing.

All told, it was a fine evening, which made the next day even tougher to stomach.

I don't know how much fun I had Saturday night, but I do know this: as one's child grows, a harsh calculus begins to emerge. Specifically, a child's demands for attention and physical activity are inversely proportionate to a parent's ability to recover from a night of carousing.

Put simply, I'm getting older and the boy is getting better. Sunday proved to be a bitter crash course in coping with this reality

Naturally, I woke up at 4:30 a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep. My head was aching and my stomach was rolling and for some reason my brain wanted me awake for all of it. The next few hours moved slowly and then the boy was awake.

The boy, sitting in with the band.
He too got off to a slow start but, before long, he was feeling his oats and ready to get moving. This proved to be no problem initially as he was keeping himself busy.

Throughout the day, he demanded we play "Jump Time" — that's a game where I lift him off the bed or the couch and toss him into the air and catch him. I usually do this about 20 times and we count it off together. It's a bit taxing at the best of times but particularly so on Sunday.

Then we played a little bit of "Getchoo." That's the game where I yell, "Getch YOOOO!!!" loudly and chase the boy. This one culminates in me tickling him and him giggling profusely.

We did a bit of these throughout the day and I was able to sprinkle in some time resting on a chair, trying to forget about my headache. All in all life was satisfactory, at least until Mrs. Blackwell decided to take off to the gym later in the afternoon.

It was then that the boy made his move. I can't say if it was intentional but, once his mom was gone, he hit the switch.

First we had to go to the basement. Once down there we had to play Getchoo. I ran to the far end of the basement and then I ran back to tickle him.

Through a loud, gurgling, giggle he asked, "UUHH-GAIN!!"

And so I ran to the far end of the basement and then I ran back to tickle him. And again, I ran to the far end of the basement and then I ran back to him to tickle him.

I don't know how many laps I made, but I can tell you it was sometime during the third one when the nausea re-emerged. Spurred on by foolish pride and a desire to never concede defeat, even in the face of crystal-clear reality, I insisted to myself that I could keep up. And so I resolved that each time the boy requested it, I'd attempt to meet his demand.

Perhaps sensing the challenge, the boy shifted into overdrive. On one of my return trips from the other side of the basement, he smiled so huge I swear it almost looked deranged. Then he yelled, "It's JUMP TIME!!!"
Ring Around the Rosie — on this occasion I had backup
from the boy's uncle. 

Now, I don't know if you've ever lifted 35 pounds over your head and thrown it in the air about 20 times but, for me, it's not easy.

You get to a point where it becomes a safety issue, your arms are rubber and you can't catch the kid anymore. After the third set of "Jump Times" I put the boy down and, told him I couldn't do it anymore.

"Daddy is done," I said, catching my breath.

But Daddy wasn't done.

You see, what I didn't know is that, instead of a little boy, Mrs. Blackwell and I are in fact raising a relentless, remorseless little playing machine who saved his most excruciating exercise for last. Not only that, he disguised it under a veil of harmlessness.

Ring around the Rosie.

We all know the game. You spin in a circle. Then you all fall down. Then you climb back to your feet and you do it again. And, if you're my son, you do it again and again and again and again and again.

And even when your father turns green and begs for any other game — even "Jump Time" — you keep requesting "Rosie."

And if you're me, you learn your lesson — and remember it.

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