Recent domestic events remind me -- you'll see why -- of an occasion not long after I moved to Rye, in 2003.
A then-four-year-old Primus was in preschool and had been invited to an afternoon birthday party at the home of one of his new friends. This was an open invitation to all siblings, and since the house was just a five-minute walk away and it was a fine day, I decided to leave the car behind. (As the work-at-home Dad, I've always done the parties.) So we set out, me in t-shirt and shorts, a diaper bag over my shoulder, Primus clutching one of my hands, his two-year-old brother the other, and baby Tertius happily nested in a snuggly on my chest.
I was the only man at the party, apart from the guy managing the rented inflatable slide. As I didn't yet know many of the much younger, blond-haired mothers who were watching their progeny, I strolled over to chat to the slide man, because, well, inflatable slides interest me. Primus and Secundus were part of the whirl of kids climbing and sliding and scurrying back, slapping fives with me as they passed. And I could only imagine the thoughts of the ladies as they checked me out from their seats on the porch . . .
"Who is that distinguished yet still handsome gentleman, flawlessly handling three children, including a baby?" "See how effortlessly he juggles not one, not two, but three boys!" "Oh, if only my husband were this accomplished -- I never realized before just how sexy skilled parenting can be!"
I looked down with smug paternal pride at the face of Tertius in the Baby Bjorn. He looked up, smiled, shuffled slightly, burped, and then projectile-vomited all over me. I stood, suddenly isolated in the middle of the lawn, dripping and stinky, no change of clothes for either of us, facing no alternative but to slink back home through the streets of Rye in that condition with a protesting, barf-stained baby still strapped to me.
The ladies were very understanding. You could tell from the knowing looks they gave each other over their spritzers. My work was done.