Recently, my wife went out of town for the weekend and left me at home alone. This is not normally a big deal. She disappears on me a few times each year for various reasons, so it was inevitable it would happen again. Only, this time, things were a little different. This was going to be the first time I was absolutely, completely alone.
My youngest went off to college in August and, up until this year, she was always around to feed me and keep my water dish full when I was without adult supervision. I suppose it gave my wife a great sense of comfort knowing that there was still somebody in the house with enough sense to lock the doors at night or turn the oven off after completely ruining a batch of macaroni and cheese. But, no more.
The training wheels were coming off, folks.
There was also the small matter of who was going to take care of the dog while my wife was MIA. My wife is the one who normally feeds the dog, takes her for walks, spends time with her, plays with her. My interaction with the dog usually consists of tripping over her in the morning because she likes to hang out right next to the couch.
My wife did the only logical thing she could do under these circumstances. She called both of our daughters and asked them to come home and stay with me during the weekend while she was gone. Apparently, she was worried that I might get lonely. That, or she was worried I might get stupid and burn the house down.
Both girls immediately agreed to come hang out with me. I don’t know if I should have felt glad that they still liked spending time with dad or upset that they both agreed that leaving me alone would be a bad idea. Regardless, the plans were made for EM1 and EM2 to come home Friday evening and stay with me until mom got back on Sunday afternoon.
So, what does a weekend with my two adult children look like? It went a little something like this:
I got a phone call Friday afternoon at about 4 PM. EM1 said she had just finished her last class for the day and was on her way to pick up EM2 at her campus dormitory. I figured that meant that they would both be at the house sometime around 7 o’clock.
I was incorrect.
EM1 picked up EM2 and the two of them decided to go out to dinner, do some light shopping, hang out at a coffee shop, then show up at home at 2 o’clock in the morning. They were at least considerate enough to send me a text to let me know not to wait up.
I got the text at 1 o’clock in the morning.
Saturday morning, they both slept in until almost noon. As soon as they woke up, they immediately started consuming everything in the pantry and the refrigerator. It was like watching time-lapse photography of a swarm of locust destroying a corn field. When there was nothing left except one empty cereal box lying on the kitchen floor, they wrote out a list, handed it to me and said, “There’s no food in the house, dad. You need to go shopping.”
I asked if either of them would care to join me at the grocery store, but they informed me that they were too busy. EM1 then proceeded to pull out every article of clothing she owned from the back of her car and start to do laundry. EM2 said she had homework and locked herself in her room.
When I returned from the store, I found both children sitting on the couch watching the TV, which, by the way, is where they spent the next two days. I did not have the opportunity to even hold the television remote control in my hand for forty-eight hours. On the bright side, I’m now all caught up on the current Japanese anime and Korean K-dramas. So … there’s that.
At one point during the weekend, I asked if either girl would like to help me outside with some yard work. They both politely declined. At least, I think they did. EM1’s actual words were something to the effect of, “I still have salsa in my bowl, but I’m out of chips.”
I’ll let you decide for yourselves what that means.
Despite the frequent trips to the store, monopolization of the TV, and the ungrateful guests, the weekend wasn’t a total loss. I actually had a bonding moment with the dog. She was standing over her empty food bowl looking depressed when she glanced up and our eyes met. I could clearly hear her thoughts as she stared at me:
Dude, if these kids are going to be responsible for taking care of you in your old age, you’re screwed.
I told her, “I know. I’m already worried about that.”
That was when EM2 said to her sister, “I think we need to start looking into care homes. Dad’s talking to the dog again.”
Somehow, I made it all the way through to Sunday. I must admit there were moments I wasn’t sure that I would. When my wife arrived home, the first thing she did was ask why the dog looked like she had lost weight. Then, she asked the girls if they had a good a time spending the weekend with dad.
EM1 said, “Yeah, it was okay. Dad just kind of ignored us all weekend, and there’s never any food in this house.”
Based on this experience, the dog and I have both decided that if my wife ever leaves again and the children volunteer to come over and spend time with us, we are both checking into a hotel. At least there I can choose what to watch on the TV, and the dog can have whatever she finds in the mini-fridge.