Jen Beaney | Izzy Wingham
James was a Captain in the United States Army, but no war zone could have prepared him for taking care of his three year old son Shawn on his own. James had taken leave from the Army so his wife Jessica could go out of state to care of her sick mother. He was excited about playing Mr. Mom for a few weeks, but he had greatly underestimated Shawn.
Morning one started out interestingly. Shawn woke at seven a.m., ready to start the day. James was still fast asleep when Shawn made his way into the bedroom. James was awoken to a firm slap on the forehead and a usually sweet little voice demanding that “Daddy get up.”
James yawned and rubbed his head. “Good morning little man. How are you?”
“Get up Daddy. I’m hungry.”
“Okay, I’m getting up.” James was out of bed, had his teeth brushed, face washed, and was fully dressed in less than five minutes. Years of military training and repetition came in handy at times. Poor James had no idea just how much of that training he would need to pull from to get through the morning.
“Daddy I’m hungry.” Shawn repeated, not so much informing, but rather ordering.
“How about we go get you dressed first?”
“Yes. Let’s get dressed and then we will have breakfast.”
“No!” Shawn ran from the room.
“Excuse me sir, you come back here!”
Once James finished laughing and regained his composure he ran after Shawn who was waiting for him in the kitchen. “Shawn we need to get dressed and then we’ll have breakfast.”
“Carry me,” Shawn ordered, lifting his arms up towards James.
“Aren’t I supposed to be giving the orders around here?” James questioned as he picked up Shawn and carried him towards the bedroom.
“No sir!” giggled Shawn.
“Alright soldier, can you take your pajamas off and we’ll find you some clothes?”
“Take your pajamas off for me and then we’ll go have some breakfast.”
Shawn quickly stripped off his pajamas and ran from the bedroom triumphant. “Yay, breakfast time!”
James quickly realized the importance of specificity with children. He followed Shawn to the kitchen. “Alright, you can have your breakfast in your underwear. It’s just us guys after all. Do you have any opinions on what you want to eat?”
The moment James touched the box of Cheerios, the darling three old turned into a dictator. “No, you have to do it right!” demanded Shawn.
“What? What do I have to do right?”
“That’s not how mommy does it.”
“Okay, how does mommy do it?” James sighed.
“Mommy makes me biscuits. I want biscuits. I want Mommy.”
“You said you didn’t have an opinion about this.” James scratched his head in utter confusion.
“I want biscuits,” Shawn responded while crossing his arms and squinting his eyes at his daddy.
“It’s okay honey. I will make biscuits,” James assured. James finally managed to convince Shawn to give up the rest of the needed information to properly make biscuits, with honey and strawberry jam, not grape, grape is icky. James placed the refrigerated biscuits in the oven.
“These are going to take a few minutes; do you want to wait with me?”
“Nope.” Shawn ran back to his bedroom.
James then retreated to his favorite chair to check his e-mail on his laptop. The chair was a carryover from his bachelor pad. The once dark emerald color had faded to pureed pea green and the patches on the arms now needed patches. Jessica hated that chair, but was willing to make one small compromise.
James, content with his coffee and e-mail forgot he was supposed to actually be watching Shawn. That was until the three year old came running in, hand on his head. “Help daddy! Stuck!” Shawn cried.
“What, what is stuck?” James assessed the situation. “Where on earth did you get chewing gum Shawn?” he began trying to unstuck the chewing gum from the delicate blonde curls.
“Ouchy, no, that’s not how Mommy does it! I want Mommy,” cried Shawn.
“This has happened before?”
“I want Mommy!”
“I want Mommy too. I took my eyes off of you for one minute!” James exclaimed.
“Daddy! Smoke!” Shawn clapped excitedly.
“Oh crap, the biscuits.” James ran to the kitchen and removed the blackened bricks that were once biscuits just as the smoke alarm went off. He went to the hall way and attempted to reach the alarm, but needed a chair first. He went to the kitchen in time to see Shawn reaching for the hot oven. “No Shawn! Hot!” James screamed. The volume of James’s voice scared Shawn, who began to cry.
“It’s okay Shawn. Let’s go outside.”
James carried Shawn outside, ran back to shut off the oven and the smoke alarm, carried a fan to the kitchen and turned it on to air out the smoke, and went back to Shawn who was still crying on the back patio.
“I’m sorry honey. Daddy didn’t mean to yell. I didn’t mean to scare you. Let’s try to get this gum out of your hair okay?”
“No, I want biscuits. I want Mommy.”
“I know you do honey, so do I.”
“I’m cold. I want clothes.”
“Now you want to get dressed?”
“How the hell does your mommy do this every day?”
“How the hell?” repeated Shawn.