The young dadisthenewmom struggled with math early on in his scholarship. If asked to solve the problem six plus three equals what, I would often reply that the questions was a wrong one. It doesn’t state which end of six was I supposed to start from. My carpenter father had left his tape measure in my care more than once, so I was familiar with an abstract concept of number lines and fractions, that “six” had a beginning and an end, but I was not eloquent enough explain my confusion to the teacher. By third grade a better teacher recognized what was going on and started feeding me large doses of algebra, which solved my problem (get it?).
This early training in relational thinking left me well suited for a later career in stay-at-home-dadding. For example, the young me saw Hide and Seek as an equation. How high you have to count and how hard you are really looking is related to how long the parent wants to be away from their kid, so long as that amount is less than the time it takes for the child to wander off or come to harm.
What I’ve previously described as my “spidey sense” may just be an ultra-refined execution of the hide and seek algorithm. I can and often do give my kid free reign to explore her world. She tends to explore in ways that escape my watchful gaze, but I seem to know within an inch how close she can get to a busy street or some fascinating dog poop before I sprint to her rescue/leave those shoes in the park. Up to that point, I can be in relaxed conversation with friends instead of in a tense watchful aloofness that characterizes so many parents you see nowadays. The kid can try to get away, but I know the odds are in my favor that she won’t; she can’t beat the house.
The Child, contrary to what the previous paragraph implies, is not really a wild or out of control kid. Although she can be rambunctious at times, normally we converse cordially throughout the day, play fun games and have a generally pleasant life. Now that she is potty trained, she only needs help getting the pants off from time to time. The Child will then say, “Dad, I need some pwivacy.” and then I saunter off for a few minutes until I hear her triumphantly shout, “I did it!” before I’m needed to inspect and clean.
I treat her like a real person, and she likes to treat me the same way. The other day I told her I had to stop our game so I could go to the bathroom. She held my hand and walked me to the bathroom. She asked if I needed my ‘pwivacy.’ “Sure, sweetie, thank you,” I said, all the while congratulating myself on the rearing of a charming and wonderful child. This train of thought was derailed as I finished and tried to open the bathroom door, (due to creative remodeling this door opened out from the bathroom). A chair had been pushed under the handle and I was locked in. “Let me out, sweetie,” I pleaded.
“First give me some money,” She said.
It’s true that you can’t beat the house, but you’re not always the house.