By Marisa Svalstedt
A local father is feeling very relieved after he began to question whether he’d lost his toddler while his wife was away.
“I was pretty excited to finally spend some time with my son. My wife is always home with him. When she told me she’d like to visit family members out of state, I thought this would be a great chance for me to enjoy the fun I miss while I’m at work,” said the father, who we will call “Mr. Smith,” for the sake of anonymity.
The first few days his wife was away, Mr. Smith and his child had so much fun he had trouble understanding exactly what “work” she does all day.
“My wife preaches about all this responsibility, and I just wasn’t seeing it. What can be easier than staying home with a little kid?!” declared the arrogant father. He couldn’t wait to show his wife how simple he found being a stay-at-home parent was so she could finally stop acting as though she’s overwhelmed.
By the fourth day of his wife’s trip, Mr. Smith began to notice the house looking cluttered. “I’ve never noticed how much stuff we have. There were so many toys and clothes strewn about, the floor was no longer visible and the kitchen counter had no more space. I don’t really understand how it got that way. It never has before,” he observed.
Just when he didn’t think things could get worse, on day six he realized they had. He couldn’t find his son. He’d looked throughout the house, but the four-year-old was nowhere in sight. With a growing sense of foreboding, he started to wonder if he’d ever find him.
“I mean, I had to move things out of the way so I could see the floor because I was afraid I’d step on him, but when I finally saw signs he was at least still in the house, I didn’t panic or feel it necessary to call for help,” he assured us.
During his search, he eventually saw evidence of his son’s safety.
“I found open cereal boxes and noticed the pizza I’d saved in the fridge was missing, along with several juice boxes. My son believed we were playing a game of hide-and-seek, and boy is he quick! There were times I’d turn a corner and hear laughing, or notice the sound of footsteps during the day. Though I was never in time to catch him, I had things under control. If he’d started crying, I would have heard him,” explained the overconfident father.
After a while, he decided the responsible thing to do was to make sure the refrigerator and reachable cabinets contained snacks and sandwiches to ensure his son was nourished during his two-day long search. The day before his wife was due to return home, Mr. Smith decided to wave the white flag.
“I could hardly walk through the house, and I was quite sure my child must need a bath, aside from some serious teeth brushing…and I knew my wife would have my balls if she came home to a missing child and a house looking like an episode of Hoarders,” confessed the now-humbled husband. “In the end, I paid my friend’s maid triple her rate to clean the house and assist in finding my son.”
The maid, who didn’t wish to compromise her position, refrained from answering any of our questions. However, she did give some serious eye-roll when we asked about her brief assignment at the Smith household.
Mr. Smith acknowledged that he’d really dropped the ball in this situation. “I never realized how much my wife does. When she’s home I can always see the floors and countertops, and I never worry about her losing our son, which I now get is a challenge. I don’t give her enough credit,” he admitted.
In the end, all was well. Mr. Smith found his son, the dishes were washed, counters polished, toys organized, and laundry folded, all in a day’s work. In fact, the maid did such a fabulous job that when Mr. Smith’s wife returned home, she marveled at how spotless the furniture looked and how glossed the floors were.
“She actually felt bad for doubting my abilities and joked that maybe I should be the one staying home. She was additionally impressed when hearing our son explain how much he enjoyed playing the multiple games of hide-and-seek she never finds time for,” Mr. Smith sheepishly reported.
“Someday we will all laugh during family gatherings about what actually happened. I’m just waiting for the right, lighthearted moment.” While Mr. Smith vows to tell his wife and son the truth someday, it’s pretty clear that his dirty little secret isn’t being revealed in the near future.
About the Author
Marisa Svalstedt is a stay-at-home mom living in Connecticut, with her husband, and their daughter. She received her MA in English from Western Connecticut State. Her writing has been featured on Babble, The Mighty, ParentCo, Her View from Home, and many other publications. In addition to writing she enjoys photography, crochet, and jumping on trampolines.