Luca had a pre-birthday party last Saturday with a few school chums. Luca kept it pretty simple. Hibachi grill restaurant, sleep over, Nerf gun war, two kinds of Oreo cookies.
In the weeks leading up to the party, I’d been putting in some serious neglectful hours at the office. So much so, that Luca actually had to ask if I was planning on attending his party. Ouch.
Stress at work tends to shorten one’s fuse, so I was coming into Saturday with a few unreasonable yellings and snappy “get off the screens” in the minus column. I made an agreement with myself that once the party guests arrived I was going to be to be the nicest, coolest, most helpful dad in the universe.
Apparently, this meant delivering any and all communication in the loudest, weirdest way ever.
“HEY GANG! WELCOME TO LUCA’S PARTY! I’M LUCA’S DAD AND WE’RE GOING TO HAVE SOOOOO MUCH FUN TODAY!”
Luca’s friends reacted as if I threw a glass of ice water into their faces. They flinched averted their eyes and tried to get anywhere but my foyer.
To make things even creepier, I pulled each boy aside one by one and said, “Hey man. I’m the Fixit Guy for this sleep over. If you need anything, or you get scared or you go pee pee in your pants, just come to me and I’ll fix it.”
During my little speech, Luca’s friends would assume a defensive position, ready to race off in case I came in for a hug.
After we drove to the restaurant, I went back to the shouting. “WHOA! LOOK AT THIS COOL RESTAURANT, GUYS! REAL CHINESE LETTERS!”
Diana laughed at me and said, “Who are you supposed to be?”
Dinner was great and fun and the birthday crew loved it. Well, they loved everything but the actual food. We left the restaurant with 7 pounds of leftovers that I couldn’t eat because sodium hurts my blood pressure.
We got home and the boys ate cookies and opened presents and chased each other around. Eventually it was time for bed.
Which was when I turned from the nicest, coolest, most helpful dad in the universe to a guy who said, “If I even hear one of you so much as blink your eyes, I am going to pull you out of this room and make you sleep in the yard.”
But then I got donuts in the morning.