A Dad Learns to Chill

Hammer Nails Diaper Pails

I don’t enjoy packing for trips. In fact, I’d almost rather have my dentist fix a cavity without Novocain. Don’t ask me how I managed to squeeze a high chair, stroller and playpen into the van, along with the rest of our luggage, during my daughter Jessie’s baby years. I must admit that packing is a lot easier without that stuff. Jessie is 8 years old now, so the most important piece of luggage is her “entertainment” suitcase — books, crayons, colored pencils, gel pens, paper, glue, scissors and markers. Jessie’s bottles of glitter remain at home — always. To be honest, I wouldn’t be disappointed if they stayed in her art drawer — always.

Wikipedia defines glitter as “an assortment of very small pieces of copolymer plastics, aluminum foil, titanium dioxide, iron oxides, bismuth oxychloride or other materials painted in metallic, neon and iridescent colors to reflect light in a sparkling spectrum.” I have my own definition, but I think it’s best not to put it in print. Let’s just say I’m not a big fan.

Jessie, on the other hand, can’t wait to do art projects using glitter. I enjoy watching her create things with Play-Doh. I applaud the masterpieces she paints on her easel. I even smile when she pulls out her assorted containers of glue, even though I know that my fingers will end up sticking to something before all is said and done. But, oh, those very small pieces of copolymer plastics … .

According to Wikipedia, in 1934 machinist Henry Ruschmann invented a way to grind up plastics to make large quantities of glitter. He founded Meadowbrook Inventions, still a major supplier of the substance. Its slogan is, “Our glitter covers the world.” I can’t verify the accuracy of the slogan, but I can attest that by the time Jessie finishes using it, glitter covers our house.

Although I will never win a Good Housekeeping award for having the cleanest house, I do like to keep a tidy one. My wife and I were married for 19 years before Jessie came along. It was a lot easier to keep things tidy (and glitter-free) back then.

When I compare our 19 years as a couple to the eight years we’ve been a family of three (four, counting the dog), I have happy memories of both periods I wouldn’t trade for anything. The status of the house (tidy or a mess) is not too important. That doesn’t mean, though, that I don’t need to take a few extra breaths when it seems like I’m taking one step forward and two steps back as I attempt to keep the house in order. I guess you could say I’m “learning to chill.”

Jessie just finished making an eight-page, glitter-filled activity book at the kitchen table. Right now, glitter is everywhere — on the table, chairs, floor, her clothing and the dog. Even though I’ll vacuum the entire work area, including Jessie, glitter will somehow find its way into every room of the house. The “pre-chilled” dad would moan and groan. The “post-chilled” dad sees the sparkle in his child’s eyes — and in various places on her face and body — as she shows off her book. So thank you, Mr. Ruschmann, for your shimmery invention.

But a bigger thank you goes out to the inventor of the vacuum cleaner.

Patrick Hempfing had a 20-year career in banking, accounting and auditing before he became a father at age 44. He is now a full-time husband, stay-at-home dad and author of a monthly column titled “moMENts.” Follow Hempfing at facebook.com/patricklhempfing and twitter.com/patrickhempfing.


Categories: At Home, For You, Home, Lifestyle, SK Activities, Work-Life, Work-Life Balance