For the first time in years I had Cheeky to myself for a weekend. No mommy, no grandma, no overpaid nanny ducking immigration. Just me, my daughter, and a copy of Disney's Cinderella on 5-day rental, just in case a princess party broke out.
Cheeky and I have an understanding. I get to play "good cop" on days when continuous playtime and crustless grilled cheese sandwiches have pushed Oodgie way past "bad cop" to Maniac Cop (or even Maniac Cop 2 or, god forbid, Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence). She saves her most irrational tirades for Mommy, and as a reward Daddy will periodically feed her cookies for lunch.
Applying that arrangement to a full unsupervised weekend together can be tricky. There are elements to parenting--such as matching clothes and keeping children out of high voltage areas--that I'm not well-trained at. Whenever Oodgie leaves for more than a day there's always the risk she'll return to a house that looks like modern Chernobyl. But I've been doing this for a while now, and I've figured out the secret:
Have a plan.
Waking up in the morning and asking Cheeky, "What should we do today?" is as effective as doing calculus with a Magic 8 Ball. I could dazzle her with my favorite time-killers for a good hour, but without structure we'd both invoke kal-if-fee by noon. So I blanketed the tri-state area with phone calls and e-mail requests to anyone who I thought wanted to party with the Cheekster, and by the weekend our schedule was as choreographed as a Republican Senator visiting Iraq.
We met friends and searched for inchworms in the park. We saw the Sippy Cups with a famous local blogger. We had a Billy Idol Dance Party. (And who wouldn't want one of those?) There may or may not have been offensively overpriced cookies involved. And every night we got to bed happy and on time; she at around 8 PM, and me only after a glass of scotch and a movie Oodgie would never watch with me. By Monday I figured I had the whole thing down.
That doesn't mean I'm Super Dad or anything. After all, having a plan and things going as planned are two separate things. And Cheeky never hesitated to remind me just how many minutes and seconds were left before Oodgie got home, probably because she couldn't scratch them into the wall. But for once I kinda wished we'd had a little more time.
Let's ask Cheeky:
CroutonBoy: "Sweety, did you have fun with Daddy this weekend?"
CroutonBoy: "Was it the best time ever?"
CroutonBoy "Do you want Mommy to go away again for a few days so we can play?"