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Solo Dad Part 1

For a full week the spouse is away and I'm Solo Dad, and it's so easy! Friends rushed to help as though I were a widower or the victim of some terrible accident. Solo Dads are presumed to need tremendous amounts of help and moral support, and I'm surprised people haven't dropped off casseroles. But the challenge of this thing is way overrated, particularly if you learn not to sweat the small stuff, like bathing, house-keeping, and vegetables at dinner.

Trust me when I tell you that for the next week our house will be a vegetable-free zone. I let the kids fill up the shopping cart with food they'll actually eat, and I'm pleased to report that the steady diet of cheddar-flavored Goldfish will be balanced by side-dishes of pizza-flavored Goldfish.

They're in charge of their physical deportment (hygiene, clothing, hairstyle, etc.). If my youngest forgets to bathe and gets a little green and mossy by the end of the week, it's her problem, not mine. The whole issue is beneath my pay grade. Let's keep things in perspective: For millions of years, human beings (or, technically, their hominid ancestors) often managed to go through an entire lifetime without a shower. Before humans had names, they were identified by odor. So this week is kind of a throwback.

I've had a number of experiences as Solo Dad, and by and large they've gone fine, except the time that two of the three children were for some mysterious reason bleeding simultaneously. (Mental note: Insist that they wear shoes when we walk through strange neighborhoods.) Yesterday (Monday) went about as well as could be expected: Only one child was in school, I got her there and got her home, managed to make food for all the kids plus two stray children who wound up at my dinner table, kept the kitchen reasonably clean, make the obligatory manly pot of beans (smoked pork, andouille sausage, blended hot Mexican peppers...what's not to like???), and performed all the essential domestic functions with alacrity. If I could pinpoint a single flaw in the day, it was that I never actually, um, made it to work.

A mere technicality.

By Joel Achenbach  |  February 15, 2005; 10:07 AM ET
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