From the moment your kid takes those first fateful steps, the timer starts counting down. You never know when it’ll hit zero, but whether it’s a matter of months or you’re lucky enough to remain unscathed until he/she is a teenager, your kid will accidentally walk in on you while you’re gettin’ it on with your spouse.
Our timer went off last week.
It happened innocently enough. The weather was beautiful and it was the kind of quintessential Sunday afternoon by which all other Sunday afternoons should be measured. Temperatures in the low 80s, every window in the house open, the sun lazily warming the inside of the house and a gentle breeze billowed the curtains and left you feeling like you stepped into a Norman Rockwell painting. We were all home together (a miracle in and of itself) and simply relaxing and enjoying each other’s company. It was nice.
After lunch it was time for Will’s nap so we both brought him up to bed and read him a story. He was so cute pointing out the different dinosaurs one-by-one, even nailing the difficult ones like the Parasaurolophus, Spinosaurus, and Diplodicus. When the stories were done, MJ and I watched him drift off to sleep with the sounds of summer serenading him through his open bedroom window. We both just marveled at him for a few moments, his angelic and innocent face asleep on his dinosaur pillow, while his perfect little chest was rising and falling in rhythmic harmony.
I looked at MJ and smiled. She slipped her fingers into mine. I slid my other arm around her waist, moved behind her, and nuzzled her neck while breathing in the absolutely intoxicating scent she seems to emanate at all times. We kissed. And then, without a word, we made a mad dash (and by mad dash I really mean the parental equivalent to a mad dash consisting of a frenzied and haphazard tiptoe of sorts so as not to wake a sleeping child) to the bedroom.
I’ll spare you the down and dirty details (which obviously consist of me being a sexual maestro, of course), but there are some things you should know which will help explain what happened next. Namely, our bedroom door does not lock. So to guard against the kid invasion, I placed a shoe up against the door. Not exactly the most hi-tech alarm system in the world but — well, I was in kind of a hurry and had other things on my mind.
I never heard the doorknob jiggle, didn’t see the door open and the shoe didn’t do a damn bit of good. All I heard was a meek little voice call out “Mama, Dada?” at which point all the glorious “motion of the ocean” ground to a complete halt, as the three of us found ourselves in a Mexican standoff.
This is a critical juncture. We’ve clearly been caught in a compromising (albeit very fun) position. Will just stood there — not knowing what to do — with a look that was equal parts amusement, bewilderment and fear. I didn’t know exactly what to say to him at that moment, but one thing was clear — whatever we said had to be measured and calm. Reacting poorly or getting upset was only going to exacerbate the situation, or worse, potentially frighten the poor kid to death. So that’s when I quickly formulated what I wanted to say.
“Will, it’s OK buddy. You don’t need to be scared. I know you’re probably wondering what’s going on, but if you can just close the door real quick so mom and I can get dressed, I’ll be right out to talk about it with you. Don’t worry, you didn’t do anything wrong and if you have questions you can ask them. You can always talk to us about anything. We love you very much OK?”
Pretty good if I do say so myself. That’s a Father of the Year type of moment right there, especially under the extreme circumstances. It allows the situation to be diffused without blowing it up into some unnecessary traumatic event, and we end up using it as a teaching moment. Now THAT’S how you parent!
The only problem is I never got to say anything.
Before I could get the words out, MJ looked right at our poor son and let loose a horrifying shriek. Actually, it wasn’t so much of a shriek as it was a desperate scream combined with a haphazard attempt to roll off of me and hide. I admit, I may have made her dismount efforts a little more clumsy since I was in no hurry to let her go in the hopes that Will would go back to his room and we might be able to (ahem), finish what was started.
Hey, I’m a guy. Whaddya want??
So we were left with our poor 4-year-old son walking in on his parents bumpin’ uglies, made worse by MJ’s complete freak out/gymnastics show as she desperately hid from his sight. Will thought he did something wrong and I could see him starting to cry. I looked at him on the verge of tears. I looked at my wife cowering in shame. I looked at the pup tent phenomenon going on under my portion of the blankets. And when you put all those things together I — well, I started laughing hysterically.
I couldn’t help it, it was hilarious. My laughing snapped Will out of his oncoming breakdown and even seemed to put MJ a little more at ease. And when Will asked what we were doing, I just went with the old standby:
“Mommy and I were wrestling buddy.”
And that, my parental friends, was MY tactical error. Because as soon as he heard wrestling he made a beeline for the bed and tried to pounce on us. Needless to say, having your kid in bed with you mere moments after you were doing…other things in the bed — well, let’s just say it cured the pup tent problem right quick!
As for Will, he seems fine. Hopefully it’s something he’ll repress until he’s in his 20s and it comes up in therapy. But let this be a lesson to all of you: be prepared!