March 16, 2005
Single fatherhood II: The baby strikes back

Tiffany took Business Trip #2 yesterday - she just called from IAH and should be home soon - so I got to spend some more time as Single Dad. As with the first time, I got a lot of help from my in-laws, who came over last night for dinner and baby assistance. Unlike last time, I did the morning daycare dropoff/go to work thing, then the daycare pickup/dinner and bedtime thing by myself today.

All in all, things went well. I was worried about the timing of the morning routine last time, but Olivia solved that problem for me by waking up at 4:30 and taking a good 40 minutes to drink three ounces of milk. By the time she finished and drifted back off to sleep, my alarm was sounding. Which was fine, actually, as this meant I could shower, dress, eat breakfast, walk the dog, and load everything into the car without having to worry about her. She woke up after another hour or so and we got to daycare at about the usual time.

She was a little fussy this evening, as she's getting over a fever from the weekend, which in traditional fashion, she shared with Tiffany. Integrating a baby into public life is like hooking up an unsecured Windows PC to the Internet. The speed and frequency with which they get infected by something is just amazing. When Olivia is under the weather, she's needier than usual, which mostly means she wants to be held all the time. Past experience with that has taught me many things, mostly how to do stuff one-handed. Here's a partial list of things I can do with a baby in one arm:

- Vacuum
- Eat
- Move laundry from washer to dryer
- Move dishes from dishwasher to cabinets
- Pet the dog - Olivia's not the only one who can be needy, and Harry always wants in on the affection action
- Read the newspaper, which is more challenging than you might think, since Olivia is fascinated by all things paper
- Operate the TiVo, which as above is more challenging than you might think
- And of course, blog (not at this moment, as she's now asleep for the night)

In chatting with my in-laws today, both of them expressed wonder about how single parents do it every day. For the most part, they try to do what any sane person in a multiple-parent household would do, which is establish and stick to a routine, plan things out in advance, think of every possible contingency, and hope like hell the kid cooperates. Of course, being by yourself means there's no backup, no net beneath you, and most of all, no relief. You're on all the time, and that's enough to make anyone wig out. My "single dad" experience has come with a ton of help, almost enough to require quotes around the expression every time I use it. I had a lot of respect for everyone who does it for real before now, and I have a lot more now.

Since we're talking how-do-they-do-thats, I'll fess up and admit that like Kevin, I've found the Nanny Rescue shows oddly compelling - we've also watched a little SuperNanny on ABC. I second what Kevin says about this being fairly practical parenting information for people who have probably never cracked a book on the subject. I say these shows are performing a public service, and I'd invite you to give them a look before you turn up your nose. I'd also submit that the pre-intervention footage would serve pretty well on its own as abstinence education for high schoolers.

No more business trips for Tiffany until May. Tune in at that time for Single Fatherhood III: Beyond Thunderdome.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 16, 2005 to See, I do have a life! | TrackBack

adorable pic!

Posted by: Alexis on March 17, 2005 5:07 AM

Now you know how "Barney" and "Teletubbies" got TiVoed. :-)

On another thought, is the Houston Chronicle a broadsheet or a tabloid? Tabloids are much easier to read with one hand than broadsheets (if you remember the New York City subway, you definitely saw this with the Daily News / Post readers versus the Times readers.

Posted by: William Hughes on March 17, 2005 7:42 AM

If nothing else, the Nanny shows are proof that there are a lot of people who have no freaking clue what they're doing as they raise their kids. We don't have kids in part because we recognized how big of a job it is and how important it is to do well. We're both a little (sometimes a lot) short on patience and I have a short attention span, so we decided it wasn't right for us. I have a ton of respect for people who parent well. It's not easy.

Posted by: Sue on March 17, 2005 8:19 AM

Dear Chuck aka Charles: This is your Dad speaking. You think being a single Dad is something, what about a single granddad-that's me? Do you think it is easy taking care of Declan and trying to follow-up on the lead story in the Oregonian(An Advance publication)about the latest criminal activity of a member of the Oregon State football team? It is extremely difficult doing may research with Declan in my lap. How can I verify the story that this footballer kidnapped a goat(sorry for the pun), actually a ram, from the faculty research center where it was being studied in a state funded program exploring homosexuality amongst goats? Try that on for size.
Devotedly yours in single grandparent child raising, the Sherlock Holmes Dudstoyeski

Posted by: Dud on March 17, 2005 9:51 AM

William - It's a broadsheet. The weekly Houston Press is a tabloid and much easier to read when I have Olivia with me.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on March 17, 2005 10:34 AM

For the benefit of anyone doubting the veracity of Mr. Kuffner's story regarding the Oregon State football players and the ram, more is available at:

I accept Mr. Kuffner's word as truth of the difficulty of being a single grandparent. :-)

Posted by: William Hughes on March 17, 2005 10:38 AM