Written by DeAnna Erdmann
Harold had worked construction for fifteen years, so it wasn’t a surprise to him when his doctor told him he had a torn rotator cuff and needed surgery. Theresa, his wife, had been very supportive. They couldn’t afford to lose income, so they waited to schedule his surgery until after she had found a job. With a seven-year-old and four-year-old to look after, it wouldn’t exactly be the most relaxing of recovery times, but it was the only way they could afford it since daycare was out of the question.
This morning was his one-week post-operation, and the pain was very manageable. He found he only needed Ibuprofen and not the more potent pills his doctor had prescribed. It was still annoying that his arm was in a full sling and strapped to his waist to prevent movement, but he felt confident that he could handle the house with one arm. After all, Theresa had managed the kid’s just fine for the past seven years, and she was a small woman with the softest personality. He was a big man with a personality to match so that the kids would be nothing compared to a job site.
Harold poured himself a cup of coffee and leaned back against the kitchen counter as he enjoyed the deep musky aroma the steam brought to his nose.
Theresa walked into the kitchen, looking sexy as ever in her navy pencil skirt and blazer. Her eyes got wide for a second and she quickly moved to the table that had several papers and her briefcase on it. She bustled around the kitchen, straightening and organizing before looking at her watch and realizing the time.
“Ok, babe, I have an open house today from 10-2 and then a showing in Crescent Springs at 330, so I won’t be home until about dinner time. Josey has gymnastics at 1, her green and purple leotard are in the hamper at the foot of our bed. Remember to bring the tablet for Sophie, or she’ll tantrum the whole class.”
“Babe,” he interrupted. “I’ve got this. Now get out of here before you make yourself late.”
He couldn’t miss the flash of worry that crossed her face, but she quickly disguised it with a smile. Walking over to him, she pulled his face down to hers and planted a kiss on his lips.
“I love you, Harold. Take it easy today and remember, they are just kids.”
He nodded as he watched his wife gather up her briefcase and head out of the house. He could tell by how she held her shoulders and how fast she was walking to her car that this was incredibly difficult for her.
“Josey! Sophie! Breakfast!” he bellowed.
And just like that, he was off to the races. His little girls blew into the kitchen like two tiny tornadoes that left glitter and colored paper in their wake. They climbed into chairs at the table, and Harold quickly threw pancakes and syrup in front of them.
“I don’t want pancakes, and I want powdered donuts,” Sophie whined.
“I want candy!” Josey was quick on her sisters’ heels.
“Well, ladies, this is what you are getting. Now, eat up so we can get ready to run to the grocery store before gymnastics.” He patted the top of Josey’s cute pigtailed head. “And four-year-olds don’t get candy for breakfast.”
The girls ate their breakfast begrudgingly and at a pace that would make a snail cry from impatience. When they finally finished, he told them to go put their shoes on, and he went to find his own. When he made it to the door, Josey stood shoeless and held awkwardly in the air with her hands.
“Why aren’t your shoes on?”
“My hands are sticky.”
“Why didn’t you wash them?”
“Because you told me to put my shoes on.”
Harold stared at her blankly, trying to calm himself… “Ok, let’s go rinse them off.”
He couldn’t believe how long it to her to wash her hands. It took six pumps of soap, three rounds of the ABCs, two mess-ups, and several minutes of playing in the bubbles at the bottom of the sink to convince her to leave the bathroom.
It took several more minutes to get her shoes on and another lifetime to convince Sophie to stop chasing a butterfly and get in the car before they could finally leave on their grocery errand.
At the grocery store, both girls wanted to ride in the cart. Then when he was in the toilet paper aisle, they both wanted out so they could hide in their “house.” Harold turned his back for one second, and when he turned back, they were gone. He called their names and frantically searched up and down the aisle but couldn’t see them anywhere. In frustration, he let out an angry growl, and only then did he hear the faint giggle from behind the toilet paper immediately beside the cart. He angrily snatched them up and deposited them into the cart a little bit rougher than he meant to because of being one-armed, and they each began to whimper and pout, which continued for the rest of their time in the store.
He hurried through loading the girls and the groceries in the car and sped home. He left the girls buckled in as he quickly unloaded the groceries. When he was finished, he jumped back in the car and pulled out of the driveway.
“Dad, where are we going?” Sophie asked.
“We have to get Josey to gymnastics.”
“She needs her leotard on.” He slammed his palm into the steering wheel in frustration and pulled back into the driveway. He bolted inside, snatched the leotard from the hamper, and was out the door in a flash. He unbuckled Josey and began to take her clothes off in the car.
“Mom never made me get dressed in the car.”
“Yea, well, I’m not your mom.”
Trying to wiggle a squirming four-year-old into a leotard one-armed made Harold feel like an alligator wrestler. He shouted his success joyfully when he was finally finished and able to be on their way.
Gymnastics was a blur of chaos. Sophie couldn’t sit still for the life of her. He cursed himself for having forgotten her tablet. Josey had to use the bathroom, so he had to cram himself and both girls into the small family bathroom and perform his one-armed alligator wrestling routine again. This has to be some kind of cosmic joke, he thought to himself.
After gymnastics, they popped back to the house to quickly eat a late lunch before a trip to the park. Harold realized all too late that a “quick” lunch takes over 45 minutes, numerous reminders to take bites of their peanut butter sandwiches, and another epic handwashing episode… times two.
When they reached the park, he finally felt like he could breathe as the girls ran to the equipment happily. He sat exhausted on a bench, but his rest was short-lived.
“Daddy, catch me.” Harold stood and walked to Josey, barely snatching her with his good arm before she would have hit the ground. And from there, they were off to the races.
“Dad, watch me.”
“Chase me, Dad.”
“Daddy, push me.”
“Did you see that, Dad?”
Before he knew it, his phone sounded the alarm that it was time to head home. There was much whining and tears at the call to leave. He ended up carrying Josey screaming over his shoulder while Sophie stomped along behind him. Trying to get Josey in her car seat was like trying to put a cat in the bathtub and nearly as dangerous.
When they got home, the girls begged to watch Bluey, so he turned on the television, and they all settled down to relax a bit.
He woke up to the sound of the front door closing.
“Mom!” the girls cried out joyfully as they climbed off of his lap. They ran to Theresa and hugged her lovingly. Theresa looked at him and burst out laughing.
“Do you feel like a pretty princess, babe?”
He stepped into the hall to look at himself in the mirror by the door. Sure enough, he was covered in bright blue eyeshadow and hot pink lipstick.
“I feel like a princess who likes to party.”
The girls burst into high pitch giggles, which got Harold and Theresa laughing. Day one in the books, he thought to himself. I wonder what tomorrow will bring?