At 5:15 p.m. on a recent Monday, my husband asked me, “What time is dinner?” For some reason, it struck me as odd. After all, it’s a question that’s been asked one fucktrillion times in this house, though less often now that we are barren. I generally have an answer that satisfies his need to associate all things with numbers.
But not this time. Suddenly, my life flashed before my eyes. Well, at least the last four years since the final Great Migration. I was lost in thought. He asked the question again.
“What time are we eating? I’m wondering if I have time to eat my leftover carnitas burrito if it’s not too close to dinner.”
“Dinner is whenever the fuck we want, chief. In fact, you can eat your burrito and skip dinner if you want.”
“Yep. We don’t have to model good behavior anymore. Have an ice cream cone and a beer for dinner for all I care. No rules.”
“No rules? Are you sure?”
“As sure as I’ll ever be. At least for now.”
And that’s how it goes around here from now on: no rules.
It’s taken me a long time to get my husband to lighten up on the self-imposed, arbitrary rules he normally abides by. Like, if he takes a nap on a Saturday, he can’t take a second nap. A few weekends ago he napped four times in one day. Granted, he had a nasty head cold, but that wouldn’t have stopped him from his puritanical ways prior to my influence. The very next weekend, I definitely heard him say he was heading upstairs for his morning nap. So I think it’s safe to say the one-nap rule is history.
I remember the early days of our courtship when our kids were just old enough to wander away and occupy themselves without us, but young enough to ask permission for every ridiculous move they made. One warm day, sitting on my deck, trying to have a conversation with my cute new boyfriend, I told the kids to go down to the basement freezer and get an Otter Pop. Off they ran, the four of them. We didn’t see them for at least ten minutes. Then, they came back.
“Can we have another Otter Pop,” one of them—likely one of mine—asked.
My cute new boyfriend looked at me. I shrugged.
“Why not?” I said.
“Really?” he said, slack-jawed.
“Go for it,” I said to the four tots, and watched them all scurry away like little sticky lemmings to the sea.
“You can have two Otter Pops?” he said again, as if just finding out that his Otter Pop Rule Book for Parents was somehow missing a page.
“Of course! You can have five Otter Pops! Who cares? Keeps them busy and happy.”
“Wow. I didn’t know you could do that.”
Fast forward 19 years. We spoil our own dinner. We blow off chores if we don’t feel like doing them. (I won’t lie; this has been a little tougher sell. I, on the other hand, have perfected it.
And we take hella naps.