When The Kids Aren’t Here

This house has been empty for over a week now. My quarantine is coming to a close and, since before Saint Patrick’s Day, I have been the only soul haunting these halls.

At first, when I was given my isolation sentence, I thought it would be a party. I pictured myself as Macaulay Culkin, jumping up and down on the bed while screaming into a mirror. I was going to be Home Alone and I could stay up as late as I want for ten whole days!

Then I remembered that I was an adult. I already do that for some of the week and the luster of being Home Alone, as a grown up, was wetter than a pair of bandits. 

My brain is wired to be a dad anyway. In fact, I noticed almost immediately after initially moving in that my internal clock was set to kid time. I’m up at 7AM the latest, even on days that I don’t need to be. In fact, there are succession of internal clock wake up calls that correspond with kid events throughout the night. It’s just part of my functioning now.

The truth is that I long to be a dad when they’re not here. The house loses its soul without my kids. When they’re here, everything and anything is on-limits. My son will bounce from chair to chair, clapping along with his iPad. He goes into rooms I never touch and sits on things that I didn’t know you could sit on. He makes crumbs when he’s not even eating. I have no idea how he does it. Lucas rules the main floor.

His sister, however, gets the rest of the house. Olivia is upstairs and downstairs. If her friends are here, they’re cackling and screaming from different locations seemingly at the same time. If they’re in her room, I’m in the basement. If I get a text that says, “We’re coming down,” I sprint away.

My house is messier and louder and a bit scarier when they are here. And I love it.

Without the kids, this place is kind of like a museum. On the occasional times I wander into the kitchen, I play songs with curses loudly through Spotify and clean down the counters that I haven’t used since the last time I cleaned them. Sometimes, I will go into the sitting room, sit on the recliner, get off the recliner, adjust the blanket on it, and leave. That’s a big non-kid day for the sitting room.

Do you know boring it gets when the kids aren’t here? Consider this very true story that happened last week. I have changed nothing.

I had just activated my annoying Roomba robot vacuum before turning to go down the stairs. As I switched this little critter on, I made sure to tell him, “Now you stay out of the bedroom.”

Ha ha ha. Ho ho ho. Hee hee hee. I had already closed the bedroom door and this mechanical little pet-like thing has a radar that keeps it out of closed areas anyway. It didn’t need me to tell it that. I was being, you know, cheeky. 

Now this particular robot vacuum is bit older than his spry little brother downstairs. He’s kind of set in his ways. I should have suspected that his lunky body was able to push open doors, because that is exactly what he did. As I came back up the stairs a few minutes later, I could hear him all caught up in wires in my daughter’s room.

Legitimately frustrated, I rolled my eyes, slapped my hands to my sides, and called out:

Of course! Are you kidding me? Are you in the bedroom? I told you…

And then I stopped. And then I felt silly. I need these kids here.

My house is meant to be alive. It’s meant to have little critters not listening and pushing their luck. It’s made for crumbs and 3AM wakeups and little boys sitting on laundry baskets that are bending under their weight. The house is made for family. I am too.

There are just a few quarantine days left until it all goes back to normal and I know that all this romanticizing will come to an end once they are back here and it’s all happening in real time once more. I’m sure by then, I’ll be tearing my hair out.

Until the next time they’re not here. Then I’ll miss it all over again. They might not always be easy, but they’re my everything. Easy is boring.




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