I am the king of splinter removal. If there is a Czar of splinter removal, that guy would be me.
Little Hoss has a splinter in her big toe. she got it there by either kicking a tree to teach it some manners or by jumping on punji sticks set down by Charlie. I'm not sure which. She's being really brave as I try to take it out. Like Superman brave. Like turn of the night light kind of brave. Dad, however, turns out to be nothing more than a big soft bowl of jello. And I jiggle when you shake me.
Not because of the splinter though, I'm good with that. No, because it is at this time when I am performing advanced fathering that my daughter chose to ask me about her going to preschool. A subject that I will admit I don't really care to talk about.
"Daddy, I go to school today?" She asks in that little voice that lets me know she can have whatever she wants whenever she wants. Throw some tears in and then I really turn to mush.
"Bite down on that strap of leather baby, Daddy's almost got it." Avoidance. That is my number one defense when a difficult subject comes up during conversation, even against a 3 year old child that still believes I can make the rain stop with a snap of my fingers. (Note: snap your fingers when you go underneath a bridge when it's raining. Works every time. Turns out I'm not honest, who knew?) This drives my wife insane. But like my wife, my daughter is equally persistent.
"Daddy, I go to school today?" She knows she's got me when she calls me Daddy.
"No baby, not today, but soon. Hold still, I'm going to intimidate this splinter out."
I picked the school months ago. I did all my due diligence knowing that this day would come and that one day she would figure out that I can't stop the rain. I used to investigate abuse, so over 1000 cases has taught me to be a little bit of a dick when interviewing people. Works great with car salesmen, not so much with preschool administrators. I went through 15 different schools before I made my choice which was based on things like: That teacher looks like a bitch. Those hot dogs aren't as good as the ones I cook.
But in spite of my general attitude I do like the one I chose. Mostly. My hot dogs are still better.
I was a rookie at picking preschools but I knew what I wanted and what I wanted most of all was a school that would engage in an open dialog and keep the lines of communication going when I had questions and suggestions.
I asked the school administrator when my daughter should start.
She suggested that most elementary schools start in August and she recommended that I keep to that schedule to prepare my child for the future.
I suggested that they could fuck off.
They suggested that she attends 5 days a week to get the maximum impact of their program.
I suggested that they should check their dental plan to see if it covers lost teeth.
They suggested that she attend for a full day, from 8:30am to 4:00pm.
I suggested that they step back about 3 paces before I start swinging.
They suggested that I contact them when I'm ready to make a decision.
I apologized for my behavior and then suggested that my previous estimate of paces was mistaken and they should really step back 5.
"Daddy, you go to school with me?" Little Hoss asked.
How do I answer that question? I poked the splinter in her big toe so that she would forget that she asked it. General defense number 2 when talking about something uncomfortable, poke them in the big toe. I am the king of distraction as well. Didn't work.
"No baby, I can't go to school with you." She looked back down at her foot as I finally gave up on using my fingernails and switched to tweezers.
I'm going to have a hard time with this, I know this. I have known this for 6 months. I feel like I have a vagina. Dad's are supposed to be tough, immovable men of great determination and clarity of vision. Not so much. I have to wonder, do other dad's have a big problem with this or only stay at home dads?
It was suggested to me that I don't want someone taking care of my kid and that's why I don't appear to be adjusting. That's not it. I have made a sufficient impression on the staff that should anything happen to my kid I will bring down the thunder not seen since Noah and his Ark. Here's the truth: I don't want to break up the team. That's it.
I take my kids everywhere with me and I have been doing this for 2 years. Do you have any idea how much havoc and chaos we have caused in that time? I've had guys in monocles exclaim "My Word!" after leaving museums. We adventure everywhere: Little Hoss, Bubba Hoss and me. We are the Legion of Doom, thwarting good behavior at every opportunity. It's freaking awesome. It's probably the most fun I have ever had. Ever. And I once went to the Superbowl on a free ticket!
"Can Bubba Hoss come to school with me?" She continues to ask. I've almost got the splinter out.
"No honey, it's only for you. It's a big girl school." I try to make this sound more appealing by calling it a big girl school, like somehow this is only for very mature adults and not whining fathers who will miss their daughters and are nothing but a shell of a man. A cheap imitation of Lee Marvin that is more likely to be one of the dirty dozen than he is to be the leader of little girls everywhere.
She's still not crying or whining. I will admit, she is cool as hell. When she grows up she is going to be tough. She isn't crying and I know this has got to hurt. Me on the other hand, well I'm just a big pussy.
In the end I pushed back her start date for preschool to September and nixed the 5 day a week thing. It's completely selfish on my part and I completely don't care. We've got a lot of exploring left to do and now my time to do it in seems shorter.
I finally get the splinter out and she rubs her toe.
"You ok baby?" I ask.
"Yeah dad. You ok?"