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Every now and then one of our friends or family members comments on how nice it is for Julie that I help her with Charlie. I smile and remind myself that beating them about the head and shoulders with a spare newel post would only cause trouble. It's not just that such comments rekindle, ignite and fan with blast bellows my fear of being an inadequate parent. It's that they make me want to find some way to prove them wrong.

And I really hate keeping score. Well, yeah, partly because I think I'd come off a poor second. But if I didn't, what difference would it make?

Just how would you do it anyway? Any decent judging system for Xtreme Charlie would make the new figure skating rules look like Go Fish. I start imagining something like this:

  • Major eruptions from top or bottom: 10 points plus
    • 1 point for every item of Charlie's clothing tagged.
    • 2 points for every item of parent's clothing tagged.
    • 3 point bonus if you have to shower.
    • No points for Charlie's socks.
  • Minor eruptions, bodily or emotional: 2 points.
  • Meals: 2 points
    • 1 point off for good behavior
    • 2-point bonus if he gets the lid off the sippy cup.
    • 1 point for food in hair and ears
  • Bath: 1 point
    • 1 point bonus if he cries throughout
    • 1/2 point off if he says "Buh-bul" more than three times.
  • General care: 1 point per hour
    • 1/2 point off if he sneaks up and tickles your stomach
    • 1 point bonus if he's a pill.

Then there would be the saintliness points for singing sweetly to Charlie during a bonus round, and some kind of style credit for singing on key...

Around here we pretty much limit the tallies to  "I caught the last three diaper blowouts, you get this one" or "You took him to daycare, I'll pick him up." (Julie: bath and med/bottle setup. Paul: pajamas and bedtime bottle delivery).

The other week, while Charlie was blessedly sleeping off a couple hours of his (and Julie's) most recent encounter with a random stomach bug, Julie commented, much to my surprise, that I do more for the boy than she does. I told her that I always felt just the opposite. I think this is one of the many good things about both having lived on our own for years before moving in together. If you're used to doing an entire household's worth of chore singlehanded, it feels a little like slacking to do any less.