Even though I’ve been an at-home dad for almost seven years, it still makes me wince when I see that line on a form: occupation. In person, I tell people — even my wife’s colleagues — that I raise children for a living. But on forms from now on, I’m going to put this: pick-up artist.
In a typical day, I pick up: my children at school (twice), the dry cleaning, leaves shed by our suicidal housebound ficus tree, pencils off the kitchen floor, school papers in the living room, kid clothes hidden in the bathroom and at least half a dozen dress-up costumes in the basement.
Come to think of it, I should probably promote myself to senior pick-up artist, because more often than not, I boss the job while the kids do it, extorting slave labor out of them before they get any screen time. Of course, this is almost more miserable than picking the darn stuff up myself.
I realized at some point that merely issuing instructions to pick up the basement playroom just wasn’t going to cut it. It doesn’t even work to ask, “What do you think you should pick up first?” Way to make Dad regret allowing choices every now and then.
So I have to say to Carla to pick up babydolls while Eddie picks up legos. Even at 7-1/2, though, Eddie just stands there like a tree.
“Eddie, pick up the legos.”
“The legos. They’re right in front of you.”
Cue cricket sounds.
“Eddie! Pick up the legos. EDDIEEEEEEEEEE!”
I realize he’s a very internal kid with an active internal something-or-other, but for Pete’s sake, when Dad says pick up the legos, PICK UP THE LEGOS! My favorite tactic is put on the timer and to threaten to get out the trashbag for what’s not picked up.
As for my job title, we refinanced our home mortgage last month, and I saw it again. That blank asking my occupation.
“Put writer,” my Lovely Bride said. “Or reporter. You’re a reporter.”
Yeah, two or three times a year, when kids are at school, a friend’s house, with a babysitter or asleep. When I’m not busy picking up the house.