Someone wants to be like Mike--not Michael Jordan, Michael Jackson, or Michael J. Fox--Mike Simpson. Me. The four year old boy that lives in a townhouse next to ours wants to be like me. I'm honored. I take this boy to pre-school with the Tomboy, and we all play outside together with the other neighbor kids. Here is the conversation as relayed to me by his mother:
Mother: "What do you want to do when you grow up?"
Mother: "Honey, you can do anything you want or be whatever you want, but you have to do something."
Boy: "No I don't."
Mother: "You have to have somewhere to live, so you are going to have to work."
Boy: "I'll just live with you Mommy."
Mother: "Everyone does something."
Boy: "Not Mike. Mike doesn't do anything. I want to be like him."
When I started this journey, this might have bothered me, but now I just think it's funny, and kind of true. I know I know, I do things. Stay at home parents do a lot. We do a lot of cooking. We wash a lot of dishes--everyday, all the time, sometimes more than we need to because somebody doesn't want the pink plate or the orange cup. We do laundry. We drive kids to school. We clean up after creatures that are smart enough to imagine that a piece of cardboard is a spaceship, but evidently not clever enough to know how to put it away. We read books that make our kids smarter, but us stupider. Yes, I know that isn't a word. We answer questions that make no sense. We clean bodily excretions that make mere mortals gag. We settle brawls over who had the Buzz doll first. We sit through lessons of various kinds, and though I haven't had to do this yet, I know that many stay at home parents drive their kids to endless practices and other endeavors.
But sometimes I feel a little bit like Homer Simpson in an episode of The Simpsons where he was a truck driver. He discovered an on board computer that put the truck on auto pilot. It did everything so Homer didn't have to do anything. He flaunted this discovery, only to be attacked by the other truck drivers who didn't want their secret revealed. My wife thinks I need breaks when she gets home--I know, wonderful right, but I get breaks during the day. Having a second child was way harder than one at the beginning, but now it makes things infinitely easier. There have been days when I could leave the house for more than an hour and the girls probably wouldn't notice. They entertain each other better than I ever could.
I have been doing this as my full time occupation for more than five months now, still pretty new, but so far so good. I have never been so universally content with a career choice. If I were the little neighbor boy, I would want to be me too. He is wrong about me not doing anything, but in a way he is right, because I don't do anything that I don't want to do.