Monday, April 23, 2012

The Dude Flies Solo


It began with a kiss as she walked out the door. That wonderful moment was just the beginning of my great unknown.  As Mrs. Dude departed on Friday afternoon for a friend’s overnight bachelorette party in wine country, I was hoping that I was not headed for 24 hours in whine country. 

Even though the Little Dude is 2+ years old and I have spent a considerable amount of time with him by myself, this was something new.  I had never had him for 24 hours solo before. And likewise, he had never had 24 hours with just me. Or as he would likely view it, without his mother. 

Though certainly not frequently, I have spent an occasional few days away from home over the last 2+ years.  My wife is a pro and can handle the Little Dude in any situation.  She’s flown cross-country with him. She’s driven him up and down the state of California. She’s even waited in line at the DMV with him, and that’s not easy. 

She put him down for his nap that day, as she usually does.  When he woke up she wasn’t there, but that’s not unusual since I usually have him post-nap through bedtime most nights during the week while Mrs. Dude is working.

At first I wanted to come up with a plan. Then I realized that planning for toddlers rarely works.  So I came up with a few ideas and knew I’d have to be flexible. I’ve learned from watching my wife operate so smoothly on the fly that flexibility is the key. She easily handles unexpected detours, no matter the situation.  One thing I wanted to avoid was discussing “Mama” with him. Her absence was not a secret, as she’d told him that she was going away, but didn’t need to be emphasized either.

That night, I figured I’d butter him up to get on his good side. Literally. I made his favorite dinner of Kraft Mac and Cheese.  When it’s fresh, he can eat enough to make Kobayashi look like a Weight Watcher.  His eyes smiled eagerly as I brought out the giant bowl of “Freshie Roni”.  We ate it side-by-side and even though he rejected the broccoli I served, he managed to find room for the cookies I gave him for dessert.   

We got through the rest of the usual evening routine with no problem. Of course it was really the next day I was worried about, when he woke up and Mama wasn’t there for the first time.  Was it too late to hire an understudy?

He woke up at 7:00am on Saturday and I went to grab him from his crib. T-minus 12 hours or so until the most anticipated return since the Jedi. We played in his room for a few minutes and when I went to change his diaper, he said “See Mama Again!” Sigh.  My luck ended faster than that ironically-named TV show Luck that was just canceled after the horses kept dying.  I reminded him that Mama was out with her friends and would be back soon. Soon being a relative term.  

Suddenly, a great idea hit me like a stomachache after eating at McDonalds.  Like much in life, whether the product is good or not, it’s the branding and marketing that make things successful. I told him that that day was just going to be me and him hanging out and dubbed it “Dudes’ Day”. The initial response was very positive, since he repeated “Dudes’ Day” 50 times after that.  Word of mouth was developing…but would it sustain?

We took the dog for a walk, made breakfast and then the pressure to come up with a new plan was on. It was pouring outside. The kind of rain that Seattleites laugh at, but Angelenos balk at. Since I’m originally from Ohio, I knew we had to press on.

We bundled up and headed to our weekly local Farmers’ Market.  I knew he would enjoy the bright colors and people-watching, or at least all the free fruit samples.  After making a loop, and the piecemeal equivalent of a giant fruit salad, we headed down the street to a local “Spring Festival”, aka Easter Bunny fest. We don’t celebrate Easter, but we had a brief brush with fame after meeting the infamous Bunny:

Yes, that is really us pictured in our local newspaper with the aforementioned Bunny 
We grabbed lunch at a nearby cafe, and destroyed our table like the rockstars we are.  We went home and he crashed after a long morning of cruising the streets of our fair city. I expected the Mrs. to be home when he woke up, so I figured I’d made it through!  Until she told me she was going to stay with her friends for dinner.  Now what?

I figured our Dudes’ Day finale should be what every good-time person does on a Saturday night, so we went to IHOP.  Since I’d recently discovered his fondness for their pancakes, I knew it would be a hit. And as we finished our dinner, we received a surprise at the restaurant. Mrs. Dude got dropped off at IHOP by her friend on their way back into town and we all rode home together. A successful solo mission / Inaugural Dudes’ Day was now history. 



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71 comments:

  1. this made me wonder the panic my husband has when i leave him with TWO kids. :) sounds like you did a great, great job. way to go, dudes day = success.

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    1. Thanks, Tara. One good sign is that he is still around to tell the tale. Beyond that, it's a lot of wishful thinking.

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  2. i am very proud of my dudes and since it was such a great success, i'll make it the whole weekend next time!!

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    1. Take as long as you like. (48 hours, maximum.)

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  3. Woohoo! Sounds like you guys did great!

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  4. Congrats on your first successful solo mission! Here's to many more!

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    1. Thanks, Robbie. Though "many" is pushing it :)

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  5. "24 hours in whine country"! Love the spin. ANd I really liked how you equated time at the DMV with driving the entire state of CA with a toddler---kudos, really. But, hats off to your fast work on the fly---Dudes Day looked like a darn good time. Funny and sweet. I'll take it. Erin

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    1. Thanks, Erin. We had a great time and that's all that matters. And that there were no major injuries or tears.

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  6. Dudes Day sounds like fun! Love the nickname "Freshie Roni" for macaroni, too cute!

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    1. He loves his "'Roni". Especially when it's fresh.

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  7. awesome. i'm planning a 40th bday trip with my BFF/cousin in August. it will be the first time away from my Lovie overnight (x3!). i get a little sick to my stomach thinking of it so i try not to. time away is good- for all of us. RIGHT?!??? ;)

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    1. Let's hope so, Christina :)

      No, it is. Everyone will be OK. Just make sure YOU have a good time on your trip. You deserve it.

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  8. Okay, I loved this... "Suddenly, a great idea hit me like a stomachache after eating at McDonalds." Because it's so true.
    Dudes Day is a success!
    Great post!!

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    1. Thanks, Heidi. Just typing that sentence made me throw up in my mouth a little bit. Glad we are neighbors this week!

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  9. How fun! Great rhythm to the piece...

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    1. Thanks, Erin. Since I have no rhythm on the dance floor, I have to utilize it elsewhere :)

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  10. This is awesome. Especially your branding idea. You're brilliant. Dudes' Day! Dudes' Day! Dudes' Day!

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    1. Thanks, Katie. I need to go trademark that idea now. Don't steal it!

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  11. See. Dad in charge and the world didn't end. Amazing.

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  12. As someone who works in PR/marketing, I must say that your "branding" was nothing short of brilliant.

    Also, as someone who is also originally from Ohio, I can appreciate that you didn't let a little rain ruin your fun. ;)

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    1. Thank you very much. I take that as high praise from a PR pro.
      And also from a fellow Browns fan :)

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  13. Awesome post and you are an awesome dad! Loved this account of your time with Little Dude, especially after the recent iHop post.

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    1. Thanks, Louise. Too kind. You are making me blush.

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  14. He managed to eat the cookies. Love that! Glad you made it out ok - great story!

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    1. Thanks, Michelle. Cookies are never a problem over here :)

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  15. It is so cute to hear the story of the dad's side of the coin - your 1st whole 24 hours! - sounds like you did wonderfully (as proven by the newspaper photo). And - Dudes Day, I love it!

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    1. It was actually closer to 28 hours :)

      Thanks, Ado. Your kind words always mean a lot.

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  16. Good job Dad!!! Also, I love that it's "freshie" mac.

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  17. Awesome Dudes Day. I work with my oldest son and don't tell him, but I love our time on the drive home.

    WG

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    1. You should tell him sometime. You never know what kind of impact it might have.

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  18. you cracked me up with "or as he would view it, without his mother." because, well, yes. but also, dudes' day rocks. well played.

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  19. Dudes Day sounds like it should be a new annual holiday. Or maybe even a monthly holiday. I think I shall float this idea to my husband (and two sons). I could also just be trying to find new ways to convince him to babysit more :)

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  20. This was great. It was a little glimpse into my husbands world. But I leave him with 5 kids. Haha!

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    1. One I could handle. Five is a different story. He must be a saint!

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  21. Good idea making the time together special by calling something - "Dudes day." Toddlers are easily convinced that something is exciting simply by our faking it - ala, "We're going to the DENTIST! It's awesome there! They have fun pictures on the wall and toys to play with you" "Yay! I want to go now. now. now!!!" (Not that dude's day isn't exciting, because clearly it is!). Great post!
    -Mama Mzungu

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    1. Thanks, Kim. We do that a lot with foods that he usually won't eat. It rarely works, though. It does get him amped up for birthday parties or the park, though. Will try it with the dentist next time.

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  22. Boys with boys as we say around here! Congrats!

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  23. Love that you "buttered him up. Literally.."

    Good job Dad!

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    1. Thanks, MF! It worked out for everybody.

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    1. That's putting it mildly, Laurel. It was great :)

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  25. Congrats on a successful Dudes' Day. My husband and sons have "Dad's Day" or "Dad's Weekend" every now and then and everyone just loves it.

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    1. Thank you! Sounds like they have a lot of fun.

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  26. I love the way you packaged it! And it sounds like the first Dude's Day was lots of fun!

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    1. Thanks, Emily. We definitely had a good time :)

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  27. Wow! Congrats on your mission! So glad you made it great...

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  28. Well done Jay!! Now, I need to persuade my husband he can do the same for our little dudes.......

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    1. Alison, Should be a piece of cake. Or at least maybe a piece of cake would entice him?

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  29. Love this! I think it's so important for children to have solo days with just one parent. As a Mother of two boys and a husband who travels for sometimes weeks at a time it's also nice for him to get a (miniature) taste of what it's like for me! ;)

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    1. I agree, January. This was a small taste, but it was excellent for all involved.

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  30. You rock! And I do believe this should be the inauguration of Dudes Day. Once a year Mrs. Dude should get 24 hours of peace & quiet- perhaps at spa, while you handle it all! I foresee happiness all around!

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    1. Thanks, Jackie! Yeah, I've been thinking about making it an annual event. Need to pick a good date for it. Any suggestions?

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  31. I have to say that everyone will be happier if Mrs Dude gets a reprieve every now and then - a few years back I started going to visit a friend in San Fran (from NYC), leaving Husband w/2 kids and a looong list. they lived. I take my annual solo trip & now the list I leave behind is a LOT shorter. Everyone feels good as a result: Husband knows he can handle it, the kids have a great time with dad, and me? Me, I'm so happy to be on my own that sometimes I contemplate just sitting in the airport and not actually going anywhere. Congrats on your first solo flight - may there be many more!

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    1. Thanks, MM! It wasn't nearly as painful as I expected and I know there will be more fun to come for all parties.

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  32. What an awesome (yet intimidating) experience you had with the Little Dude. I can completely sympathize with what was going through your head. I had that a few weeks ago myself when I was alone with a little one for an evening. It was ingenius to take him along to IHOP for some awesome pancakes. Thanks for sharing this story, and I look forward to hearing about more days/weekends/weeks where the Dude flies solo with the Little Dude.

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    1. Thanks, SS! It was one of the best days ever.

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  33. OK, this all sounds great, and I really did enjoy reading this due to the metaphors you use....but...next time you're on solo dad duty, I'd like to see you throw in some chores and errands, not just fun. Therein lies the big difference between mom time and dad time. It seems that daddy is the fun one.

    Still a great post!

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    1. Thanks, Jennifer. Though this was more of a fun mission, we definitely do our share of chores and errands on a regular basis. Since I am a half-time SAHD, it's not always fun and games.

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  34. Yay! You both survived and even became famous with pics in the paper! Love it!

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