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Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad

Local humorist and architect Jack Miller writes about life behind the apron strings and musings on Scarsdale life as he now knows it.

Penne and meatballs, I said.  

Then came the long pause. 

This particular pause can get so many emotions stirring. Are they going to eat this, are they going to completely protest the meal, or are they going to raise a triumphant fist in the air, followed with an enthusiastic chant of WE LOVE MEATBALLS!

I actually made this meal.  

I didn't buy it precooked and ready to go. That's way too easy and would have meant that I could relax between religious school drop-off and supper. Relaxation is something that is somewhat easier said than done.  

Just like getting your kids to eat their dinner.  

My two children are boys, ages 11 and 8.  Sometimes they go with the flow, together.  Sometimes they oppose each other. And sometimes they act like unified prisoners protesting the warden's new cutbacks.  

Cutbacks are a way of life these days, a way of life for almost everyone.  

Whether you are selling your yacht, eliminating a nanny or declaring Wednesday night to be leftover night.  

Personally, I am undergoing the transformation from a commuting 50-hour-a-work-week dad; to a working-from-home dad; to pretty much just stay-at-home dad.  

The upside of this is that my children's homework is always completed. The downside is that my vocabulary is shrinking at a logarithmic rate.  

I used to be the guy who would sacrificially leave work early to coach little league, cheered on by his co-workers.  

Now I'm just the guy who gets called to coach things because everyone knows that I am available.  Always available, and I have trouble saying "no" to friends. (There are reasons why I no longer own a pick up truck).  

Available to schedule play dates with other parents, all of us pulling out Blackberries and smart phones just to find that two-hour window so our children can enrich each others' lives.  

Enriching by pointing out items that they have or don't have, and comparing the sizes of televisions, basements and backyards.  

It's ironic that these dates have to be scheduled sometimes weeks ahead of time, but the truth is that there is no rhythm to the weekdays when you're a stay-at-homer like me.

Mondays are different then Tuesdays, and Tuesdays are different then, well, you get the picture.  

Gone are the days of your mother (or father) telling you to go out and play, and be back for dinner at sundown. 

Even in Scarsdale parents are afraid of those mythic strangers in vans. Just another sign of the times.

My boys know not to talk to strangers when they are playing near the house.  

We even have a safety pass-phrase to let them know that its okay to talk to strangers that might be one of our friends, but that people who utter phrases like, "Hey kid, do you want some candy?" may be a bad choice for a ride home.  

On the other hand, most of the children in town are savvy enough to question the peanut and gluten contents of said candy, and the ones with discerning palettes may ask about the cocoa content. 

Signs of the times are everywhere. There is plenty of empty space in the strip malls that line Central Avenue, and grocery stores entice you with points and bonus-card-member discounts. I still refuse to buy Hunts Catsup, no matter how much cheaper it is.  

Jack Miller will be writing a weekly column on Fridays that features his observations on life in Scarsdale, realities of the recession, and general musings of a stay-at-home dad.

Marietta January 23, 2010 at 12:44 AM
Will you share the meatball recipe? It sounds delicious!
Ale Bara January 26, 2010 at 04:23 PM
love your column Jack... you really add humor to daily life... =)

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