Better Off Dad

I am a stay at home dad. That’s pretty much all I am. I used to be other things before I started staying home with my kids. But now I’m just a stay at home dad, or SAHD for short. I know that’s what I am because that’s how people introduce me. “This is Marcus, he stays home with the kids (can you believe it?)” Or if they’re over the age of 55, I usually get the “He’s a Mr. Mom.” It’s said in a positive way, sort of like the way people say “between jobs” when they mean “fired for being an incompetent loser.” Better Off Dad is now located at

If This is the ER, Where’s Dr. McDreamy?

I finally became a real father this past weekend.


Sure, there are lots of milestones that you pass through on your journey to complete parentdom.  There are the sweet ones like the first time your child calls you “Da-Da” or the first time they kiss you on the cheek unsolicited.


Then there are the less sweet, but just as significant moments, such as when your son pees on you while you’re changing his diaper, or the first time you’re wiping up vomit off of the bedroom floor at 3 am.


Ah, good times.


Yes, all of these moments make up a complete parenting resume, and with three kids under my belt, I have checked off  just about all of these little boxes, save one:  the late night trip to the emergency room.


I can’t say I was worried by the absence of this critical piece of the parenting puzzle, but at the same time I knew it was coming and was kind of ready to get it over with. 


Thank goodness for Thursday night.


It was at the end of a fairly long week.  My wife had worked late every night and so parenting had been a one man job for a while.  So, I had taken the kids out for dinner (kids eat free with adult entrée at California Tortilla!) and they were all running around for a few minutes before bed.  I was upstairs putting some laundry away when my daughter comes running upstairs to tell me that Asher had fallen off the playset and hurt himself.


Again?  Really?


We have this large, ugly plastic playset that I picked up on the side of the road a few  years ago.  It’s in what used to be the formal living room before we bought the house and is now a huge tacky playroom for the munchkins.  Our children have all become climbing masters.  They scale this thing and swing on it and cavort around it like a squabbling band of chimpanzees and of course, every once in a while, somebody falls off of it on to the plush carpet that once used to host wine tasting parties and now hosts leftover cheerios and polly pocket shoes.


About 6 months ago, Asher fell for the 400th time and banged his head on the corner of a bookshelf.  This was deemed serious enough that we took him to the nighttime pediatrics location and they glued his head back together. 


No, literally. 


They used glue and “stickers” to hold the gash together.  They said the bandages would fall off by themselves, and sure enough, almost 4 months later when we were playing at an indoor playset at the mall, I looked up and the grey, scraggly bandage that had been stuck to my son’s forehead for 100 days or so was missing, presumably now on the bottom of someone’s shoe, or in the mouth of an overly curious infant.




We moved the bookshelf, repositioned the playset and the kids had once again been playing happily and safely.  Of course, they still fell occasionally, but that’s all part of the game, isn’t it?


So, Audra comes yelling that Asher fell and hurt himself.

Again?  Really?

So I go downstairs.


There’s Asher lying on the floor crying, but it’s not his “Oh my gosh!  The pain is killing me!” cry.  It was more of his “Wah wah, this hurts, but mainly I just want to cry and be dramatic and get some attention cry.”


Well, not in this house!


I pick him up and tell him that I’m sorry he’s hurt.  I check his head and don’t see any bruises or bumps.  I stroke his head and kiss it better.


But he’s still crying.


Come on…


So, I tell him, “Well, if it hurts this bad, you must need to go straight to bed.”


He’s still crying.


I take him to his room and lay him down in his bed and say, Tthe rest of the family is going to go downstairs and watch the Olympics, but if you need to cry, you can stay up in your room and go to sleep.”


He immediately rolls over.


…….um….. that’s not normal.


I turn the lights off and go downstairs.  As the minutes pass by and he doesn’t appear in the living room ready to admit that he’s lost this battle of wills, my mind starts to race.

Ohmigosh!  Ohmigosh!  I bet he bumped his head and had one of those sub dermal hematoma things just like in the John Grisham book I read.  He’s going to go into a coma right now as we speak and have brain damage and have to eat strained peas through a straw for the rest of his life while watching the View.


I cant’ let that happen!


I go back upstairs and Asher is asleep…. At 8:00 at night!


Holy crap!  It’s more serious than I thought!  I take the small frog flashlight that Asher sleeps with and used it to do a thorough examination.   I know I’m supposed to wave the light in front of his eyeballs, but what the hell am I looking for?  Am I just supposed to make sure that the eyeballs are still there, or are they supposed to do something?


Asher startles awake, crying again.  I am relieved that he woke up and that he won’t have to spend his entire life as a vegetable.  I ask him if he wants to watch TV and he says yes.  So I take him downstairs and he instantly falls asleep on my lap.


This is exactly what happened in that Grisham book!  And I already know that I’m going to lose the lawsuit against the evil insurance company!


A few minutes later my wife walks in and I tell her what happened; omitting most of the part about how I thought Asher was fake crying.

We make a few calls and decide that we need to take him to the emergency room.


And here we are.


So I load up my sleeping son and take him to the hospital where I stand around in this hallway with a living example of everything that’s wrong with our health care system.  There’s the lady with a toothache, the old man who looks lost, and the weird young guy in a wheel chair who keeps coughing as loudly as possible while all of the nurses ignore him and roll their eyes.  I don’t know what the heck’s wrong with that guy, but it aint normal.


Then they check Asher’s temperature, weight and vitals, all of which he sleeps through.  Then I take him and put him on my shoulder while we sit and wait to be called.  We only have to wait a mercifully short time before a surly young nurse who looked like her boyfriend just texted to say he was leaving her for a stripper named Bubbles called us to follow her.


She never said hello or introduced herself.  She just led us to a room, sulked in the corner and asked us a few questions before leaving.  I laid Asher down on the bed, covered him with a blanket and pulled out a book.  It was going to be a long night.


While I’m reading these, two really loud nurses are chatting in the hallway.  One’s talking about how she’s applying for other jobs and this head hunter is sending her application around to other places.  The conversation went something like this:


“So the guy calls and says he’s got something out in Western Kentucky, and I’m like ah man, what the heck is in Western Kentucky?  Just some redneck hicks?  So I called my boyfriend and he’s like, ‘man it must be like Podunk, Kentucky or something like that.’  And  then I get a call back from this head hunter guy and he says this city’s name is like “pah-dook” or something like that and we just laughed and laughed cause it sounded just like Podunk, but we couldn’t find it on a map or anything!  Can you imagine!”


Because my son was lying in the hospital with a possible brain injury direct from a legal thriller I decided not to go up to this woman and tell her that, actually, the name of the town was Paducah and that my father happens to be the City Manager and that it is home to the National Quilt Museum that my mother happens to be the director of and that it is actually a very cute little town with a thriving arts district.


Honestly, I think Paducah dodged a bullet on that one.


Anyway, a few minutes later a very nice man came into the room and introduced himself as the Physician’s assistant.  He had a distinguished beard and a long pony tail in a braid.  He listened to what had happened, examined Asher, was able to locate a small bump on the back of his head and told me that he was sure there was nothing wrong, but that since Asher was not acting normally, that a cat scan was worth doing.

So, a few minutes later someone took me down the hallway to a fancy pants MRI machine that looked like a giant donut.  It was just like one of those GE commercials where they’re showing you all of their fancy equipment and telling you that now GE has the technology to show your internal organs in color and stuff like that.


Well, Asher is still asleep, we put him on the little tray, cover him with a lead blanket and then the magic machine starts moving around silently taking little picture of his little brain.  A few minutes later the not particularly friendly technician dismisses us and we head back to our room.  I put Asher back in the bed, cover him and turn off the lights.  In a few minutes we’re both asleep until our pony tailed savior returns to announce that the Cat scan was clear and that our little boy is 100% ok.


And so, relieved, I pick him up, take him home and put him in bed.


The next morning Asher woke up a little groggy, but fine.  He came down stairs and pointed to the little hospital bracelet on his wrist and said, “what’s this?”

He had slept through the whole ordeal and had no recollection of even going to the hospital. 


So, all in all, our first parental trip to the emergency was a flying success.  We escaped with merely a plastic bracelet and some vague memories.  Well…. and a little something else.

Saturday morning I woke with some weird, sinus coughing disease that I still haven’t quite shaken three days later.


If I end up in a wheel chair hacking my lungs out while the nurses all shake their heads dismissively I’ll know I’m in real trouble, because I’ve read that Grisham book too and I don’t win a million dollar settlement in that one either.

Only published comments... Feb 23 2010, 07:37 AM by superdad | [Edit Post]

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