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On the Seventh Day of Christmas, I chose to offer a choice. My nephew was showing some of the strain of single parenthood, and while he’d promised to escort the boyz to see an Egyptian exhibit and one of the Mall museums, I offered him a day off instead. “Just wander around the town,” I suggested. “The boyz won’t mind.”

Fact was, I figured everyone would be better off if bedraggled dad wasn’t expected to yet again wrangle them kids through another wildly distracting situation. I could apply some of my strategic inattention, which wouldn’t disturb the young ‘uns a lick. He’d have to be on call throughout if he went, and he looked frazzled. Gratefully, he jumped at the chance.

We rode down together on the Metro, but parted ways at the Navy Memorial, me suggesting a coffee for him at Paul, while the boyz and I wandered toward the museum. The separation put them a bit off center, so they weren’t playing their championship game. Plus, they’re justifiably wary around me. I’m not terribly predictable and almost indifferent to their plaintiff pleadings. They placidly followed my lead, which left us shortly thereafter peering through thick glass at mummies, Ronnie trying to read the hieroglyphs. Georgie wasn’t very interested in investigating Ancient Egypt, so he wandered some. He even got lost for a while, but he found us again. I stayed sanguine.

We managed to see several exhibits, with Georgie mostly wandering, looking for another TV screen to hypnotize him. We saw disgusting bugs, but neither wanted to hold the enormous beetle or the ginormous languorous grasshopper. Georgie pulled his hands into his coat and wanted hugs when we peeked in on the tarantulas. Who could blame him?

We almost got trapped in the mammal room when the noontime tsunami of visitors washed in, but I insisted we leave, by way of the secret passage beneath the blue whale hanging from the ceiling, then outside via the men’s, even though Ronnie hadn’t seen everything.

Once outside, I quickly quelled imminent starvation with food truck half smoke hot dogs all around. We headed for a sunny spot to eat, but both boyz had already swallowed theirs by the time we got there. They’d spotted a line of boulders bordering the lawn, and bee-lined for them. I finished my dog then found a sunny spot to watch their antics. Ronnie made it from end to end without touching the ground more than once. He ran over to me to explain. “You can’t be afraid to jump,” he started. “You’ve got to stand there until you feel calm, then jump.” I stood calmly by, winter sun warming my back, while they tired themselves out.

I texted dad that we were on the move and would meet up with him at Union Station. We had to run to catch the Metro train, but made it right on time. There, a rested and refreshed dad bought the boyz a real lunch, which they mostly played with, before we headed back to the Villa so The Muse could make her late-afternoon appointment.

I built a fire out on the patio that night, and the boyz stuck sticks into it until Ronnie got caught waving his flaming wand around. Boyz.

Georgie didn’t argue when I shortly thereafter called a time out for bed. They both crashed without burning. Dad sat up reading one of the books he’d bought on his walk-about.

Single parenthood might be the most difficult responsibility. Tempers tear along ragged edges with no net beneath. A few hours of respite can restore. Me? I don’t get nearly enough kid time these days. It’s no burden to escort the tikes and ignore their pleadings for a few hours. It was as much respite for me as for him.

©2014 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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