Contrary to perhaps both popular opinion and damning evidence, I’m not really much of a drinker. Yes, I like to have my glass of wine or a beer now and again, but I’m not the guy that goes home every night and pours himself a drink. Hell, I don’t even necessarily have any alcohol if I go out to dinner with friends. But every once in a while, I truly need to get my drink on.
Last night was “every once in a while.”
Before the kid came along, I actually drank more often. But, I also got tanked less often, if that makes sense. What I mean was that before K-Man, I could get a nice buzz whenever I wanted without going over the top. After K-Man, I’m always worried about dealing the next day, blah, blah, blah. So, better to not drink at all than risk being a hung over dad.
Yesterday, though, the kid tested my patience in ways that I haven’t experienced since those early days of long, sleepless nights (days? weeks? months?). There was a time – back in those dark moments – when I just didn’t know if I would be able to survive. Such feelings were reprised yesterday.
K-Man hit the wall. He didn’t want to go to school – only home. So, as we started to head home, he started screaming that he wanted to go to school. He didn’t want his Crocs. Only his boots. (Unless, of course, his boots were on, then he wanted his Crocs.) He wanted daddy. No mommy. He wanted Nana. No Papa. He wanted this. No that. He was lost in this maze of testing me and truly not knowing what he wanted. He simply couldn’t make up his confused, little head.
Naturally, after a few hours of this, I totally lost my [filtered word]e. My patience was gone (and not in that fleeting way when the idiot at Togo’s screws up my sandwich order even though he’s written it down). I didn’t do anything rash, but my voice was raised a bit and my head may have spun around 360 degrees (which certainly didn’t help anything).
We have one night of childcare (for a weekly date night) and fortunately it was last night. So, at around 4:00, I left work and found myself in the local, eclectic watering hole (read: wonderful dive bar). I hadn’t even fully walked through the door before ordering the first drink (Jaeger Bomb) and I hadn’t even picked up that drink before ordering the second (Jack ‘N Coke). This was followed by a couple of more Jaeger Bombs and whatever else.
As I looked around the bar, I realized that I was on my way to becoming one of those red-nosed regulars (Norm!) who occupied their corner stool each and every day – guys who came in around 2:00 and left by…well, maybe they never leave. Or, I was one of those kids, who come into the diver bars to feel cool because they’re drinking around adults.
I’m not sure where I was. The Jaeger Bombs made me feel like the latter. My age made me feel like the former. At that moment, I realized that I’m at a major transition in my life (and not just because I’ve recently turned 40). It’s confusing, too. I probably have more in common with the youngins in the bar, but I’m closer in age to the grizzled old barstool veterans. If I’m confused, I thought, imagine how K feels.
We toasted to K-Man on the third (or was it fourth) Jaeger Bomb. With a great buzz working, I was able to figure out that his day was FAR worse than mine. K-Man’s marathon meltdown yesterday was clearly the result of his being overtired. Like many of us, the poor kid just needs a day off. No school or daycare. Just a day to hang with his parents (or not), chill out, go to a fire station (or 10), take a long nap and go to bed early. I forget that when G and I are slammed with work and find ourselves rushing to get K out of the house, it creates a kind of frenzy that can work up the little guy. Just as our days are never ending…so are his.
Here I was at 40 – able to drink it off. But, at two-and-a-half, what can K-Man do? Yes, he can get some sleep. But, he doesn’t yet understand the concept of just shutting it down and unwinding. I need to help him with that. I need to do a better job of maintaining my peace and calm. He’ll be better for it. I’ll be better for it. And life will be the (Jaeger) bomb.