1st ch. of an at home dad memoir. Funny stuff happens
|Can you sign a legal contract in crayon? I have never, in all my contract signing days, seen a rule discussing this. Nor have I ever heard any advice regarding crayon etiquette. I’ve heard things like “Always read before you sign” and “It’s the fine print where they get ya.” But nothing on crayons and legal documents.
I am selling my home, my three bedroom castle in Texas, complete with changing tables and vomit stains. There is a backyard as large as an oversized postage stamp and a sandstone patio. My home has a new fence that I built, with my 19-month-old daughter strapped to my chest like Master Blaster in the Thunderdome. Also included is the wasp nest that I quickly spray with poison every year and then run madly away, screaming the silent prayer of “no,no,no,no…”
I look at my real estate agent, a friend of a friend, and wonder if he will object to my crayon signing. As far as I know, and I’ve done absolutely no research, I don’t think there are any policies or laws against crayon signing. This is good because Vivi, my daughter, has currently colored on the front page of the contract. It’s a nice purple hue that I think adequately describes my mood for the last three weeks. Namely, I’m so fucking tired that if there was a wadded up pile of dirty laundry and someone to watch my kids for 30 minutes, I would take a nap right in this guy's office.
Three weeks ago my wife left. That sounds heartbreaking, doesn’t it? My wife left me with 2 kids and a house! There are 2 dogs too and a couple of cats that hate everyone, as cats do. And wasps, because in my stories there always has to be a bad guy. This time it’s going to be wasps.
Erin, the one who gives constant encouragement to the point that I think she must have a set of pom-poms stashed in her business suit, is my wife. 31 and with thick black hair that, as a bald guy, makes me want to sleep in it. She’s an advertising executive that makes funny commercials and then tries to get you to buy Schooner Tuna because it's the American thing to do. She has taken a job in the middle of the country, Kansas City. Her new tuna-selling company needed her to start immediately because there are clients that need to be wooed and campaigns that need to be planned. But there are also children that need to be raised in Texas. There is also a house that needs to be sold, a moving company that needs to be hired, and wasps that need to be confronted. That’s my job now. I’m that guy.
When Erin drove off into the sunset towards Kansas City and left me with the two kids, she did not give any crayon signing advice, which is a shame, really. We had lots of other talks, though. For example, it is a bad idea to cuss in front of a toddler who is learning to talk To which I replied with “That makes a lot of sense. God Damnit I should stop all the cussing. Shit, am I a terrible father. Fuck.”
I’m about to ask my real estate agent for another copy of the contract but I am also fully prepared to sign this one right now, as is. The market is taking a downturn, 2008 is not looking like it’s going to be a good year for homeowners. So I want to get this thing done in ink or wax, it makes no difference to me. Before I get a chance to ask for a new copy of the contract, my 4-month old - Wyatt - starts screaming.
He does this a lot. I think he has decided that this is his job, to scream when I don’t want him to scream. I think that Wyatt has observed the family dynamic and has taken it upon himself to create his own niche. He is going to be the 4-month screaming boy during business meetings. He seems to relish in this role and no amount of rocking in his car seat seems to help him.
It’s difficult to have a conversation about money and escrows and titles with a screaming child unless you are doing it with other parents in the same situation. And when you do have those conversations, they are so often interrupted that the conversation takes literal weeks to complete. That’s not me being funny nor a euphemism. I mean that you have to get a piece of paper and write down where you left off so that you can come back to it after you have calmly explained to your 2-year old that the dog is not for riding. But I don’t have weeks to have this house sold. I have exactly 2 more weeks before I pack everyone up and head to Kansas City. Vivi, Wyatt, the dogs The Fat Belly Newt and The Wrath of Kahn, and the two cats who don’t care what their names are and in general, hate you. Not me, they love me, but they hate you.
The real estate agent laughs because he’s about to make 10K off me and I appreciate the patience that I’m paying for. He quickly reprints the front of contract that had a version of a purple flower on it. I take that page and put it in my backpack because my daughter drew it and it is now a genius work of art. He hands me a pen, which Vivi quickly reaches for. I think she knows that Dad is struggling a bit here and she is helping. I am also she can’t figure out why her purple flower signature isn’t good enough. I’ll explain later that people often won’t understand her art and I will introduce the term “uncouth” to her.
I unstrap Wyatt from his car seat, one-handed mind you, and pick him up and place him in my lap. With two children on my lap, signing the contract myself seems like it may be a bit difficult. I briefly consider having Vivi jam the pen into my mouth so I can sign it like some sort sideshow freak but then I rethink that. Vivi likes to break things. And by things, I mean everything. Walls, cars, steel bridges that connect islands, she wants to break it all. I don’t just mean the physical things either. She will happily destroy your heart if you let her. Oh, it will look all sweet and then she will grow up and at 16 want to run away with Chet, from the local garage band (he’s an artist, dad!), and leave her poor father with that broken muscle that completely belongs to her. I don’t let her jab the pen into my mouth because I like my teeth and I’m pretty sure her aim isn’t good enough. I might lose an eye and as awesome as I may look with an eye patch (arrrr, I’m captain dad!), I figure it is a bad idea.
I turn my wrist at a Linda Blair-type angle and grab the pen from my daughter. I stand because this circus feat can only be done standing, and lean uncomfortably over. I tell Vivi to hold onto my neck as I grip Wyatt tighter. “Let’s make this quick,” I tell the real estate agent. I sign my name. Vivi tightens her grip on my neck, her little uncut nails digging in. I don’t mind it at all. Wyatt has stopped screaming because he’s snuggled up tight next to me and that’s his favorite place to be. I got the kids, that’s my job now as the stay-at-home-dad and I’m pretty sure I don’t want them ever leaving me.
With my last initial and a flourish of my aching wrist, the contract is done. In pen, not crayon, although crayon would have been way funnier. I sit back down, the kids still up against me tight. I smile. I am happy. And just like that, the house is sold and we are moving to Kansas City.