At dad’s expense


My family mocks me as much as possible. I’ve brought it on myself.  We’ve raised our kids to not be too serious about things and we have peppered their growing up years with bits of sarcasm and good natured teasing.

“Why does she get to take pudding in her lunch?  We never got to do that when we were her age,” said the neglected older siblings.

“It’s very simple; we like her better,” replied the snarky parents.

It’s not surprising that Michelle has been much more nurturing with our kids than I have. Sometimes I most likely resemble a way older, goofy cousin or uncle than I do the dad.

So, as I said, they now delight in mocking me. Paying me back. At times, I give them plenty of material to work with.

We’ve had a lot of milestones this summer already.  Our oldest was married.  Our younger son bought a decent car – one that does not break down or need repair work every time we turn around. Older daughter has turned 17 and is actively pursuing a job to save for her own car. And our youngest daughter, almost 9, got a new puppy.

While COVID-19 was in full swing and before the wedding, all four kids were at home and we regressed a bit in the household dynamic situation. This meant a return to the days when things would be borrowed without asking – especially items from our bathroom.  

Many a time in the past, we’d get in the shower and look for soap, shampoo, what have you, because a kid had wandered in and looted the place only to take their plunder back to their own bathroom.  I once found four shampoo bottles in the other bathroom and have yet to figure that one out.

I wasn’t too surprised to start finding I was missing disposable razors, shaving cream, hair gel, toothpaste, shampoo and the like from the bathroom. Although it had been a good four years since our oldest had been scolded about such things, he was usually the culprit.

“Did you take shampoo from our bathroom?”  I’d yell it from behind the shower curtain.

“Sorry!” The apology would be followed by a bounding down the hall and a quick handoff to me in the shower. I might add the kids always shield their eyes in case they might be traumatized by a glance at lily-white, fat, dad body when they come in. I think I might have been showing a bare shoulder as I peeked out from behind the curtain.  Scandalous.

So it was a bit of a celebration a few weeks back when I saw Michelle had gotten me a new bottle of shampoo. It stayed in the shower for several days and I was so glad to have such thoughtful children, leaving my new coconut scented shampoo in its place. The new bottle was fairly nondescript with a purplish design on the front, “coconut flavor” and some brand name I didn’t care about.  

All I knew was that I had some decent, good smelling shampoo I did not have to yell for when I jumped in the shower.

As Michelle cleaned the bathroom one day, she noticed the new shampoo was nearly empty and she seemed quite upset about it.  I didn’t know what the big deal was.

“I can’t believe this shampoo is nearly empty.  Did you or one of the kids spill it accidentally?” She asked the question in that mom tone reserved for the kids. And me.

“Spill it? No, I didn’t spill it. I’ve been using it normally each day,” I reported.

Michelle’s face went white. A stunned look, a wide-eyed stare and then a quivering curl of her lip followed.

“You know this is dog shampoo, don’t you?” She stood there looking at me as though I’d lost my mind.  “It’s for the puppy.”

“What? No! I don’t see that on the bottle!”

Indeed I didn’t. I don’t wear my glasses in the tub, nor do I really pay attention to anything other than the word shampoo. And there was no dog picture anywhere, black or front.

What followed was several days of, as I said, mockery. She delighted in telling the kids, who amped up the jeering. She told a large group of friends the other evening. She told our Bible study group. All of these people delighted in laughing and sputtering along about my grooming habits.

Let ‘em laugh. I’ll have you know I have a nice, shiny complexion.  I haven’t had an itch for days.  

And a flea or tick hasn’t come near me. 

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