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Tag, You’re It!

Ask any parent and they’ll back me up: Distance makes the heart grow not only fonder, but more understanding and patient. Like anyone, I need the occasional night away from my kids to remind me what really matters, and how boring life would be without their joyous little disasters.

I was on my way to a business dinner one evening when Laurie called me in a huff. “Do you want to hear what your son just did?”

I thought, Is that a rhetorical question? But based on her tone, I reconsidered. “Uh oh. What did he do?”

He ruined dinner.”

[Free Resource: Required Reading for Parents of Kids with ADHD]

“How did he do that?”

“He asked if he could make the macaroni and cheese. I thought, ‘He’s 10 now. He should be able to handle it.’ So he puts the water, noodles, cheese package, butter, and milk in the pot and boiled it all together.”

I started laughing. “That’s too funny!”

Laurie, however, was less amused. “Sure, it’s funny to you because you’re not the one who has to deal with it.”

[Raising a Child Who Wants to Behave]

She’s exactly right: The mental image of the boy boiling all the ingredients in one giant pot is freaking hilarious only because I’m not there. Earlier that week, I was over an hour into dinner prep when he came in the kitchen and asked, “Can I help?”

“Sure,” I said. “You can make the lemonade.”

“Ok!” He looked around for all of five seconds, then he said, “Dad, where’ the pitcher?”

“In the cabinet.”

[Free Resource: What NOT to Say to Your Child]

Then another few second passed before he asked, “Dad, where’s the lemonade?”

“Son…”

It wasn’t until we sat down to dinner that I noticed five cups of murky yellow lemon waters and one cup the color of a highlighter. “Son?” I asked. “Did you stir the lemonade?”

“Umm…”

I slapped my forehead. Then I grabbed my phone and texted Laurie, “Do you want to hear what your son just did?”

The kids are far more amusing when we can take in their ridiculousness from a distance. Now that I work from home, I share about half of the household and parenting responsibilities with Laurie. So we share our frustrations when we’re home, just as we share how much we miss the kids when we’re not home.

So while I’m at my work dinner, I’m a little sad that I’m missing the kids’ nightly negotiation for a later bedtime and their inability to put a dish in the dishwasher. And when my clients ask me about my kids, I don’t think about the daily disasters with lemonade, and mac and cheese, and who knows what else. I respond, “I have the best kids.”

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