by Mike Todd

It was early in the morning, too early for big news, but I braced myself anyway, since the news was coming whether I was awake enough for it or not. “Big news,” said the yogurt box, “for moms who love the wholesome goodness of GoGurt Simple.”

I turned the box around in my hands, looking for big news that might interest dads, to no avail. Was I supposed to get my wife Kara out of the shower, since I’d intercepted an important message meant only for her? “Dude, who’s making the lunches around here?” I said out loud, shaking the sexist yogurt box.

“More!” said our 21-month-old son Zack from his high chair, pointing at the place where his toaster waffle used to be.

“More what?” I asked him, being purposefully (for once) obtuse. We’ve been trying to encourage Zack to use more words than the four now in his vocabulary. The problem is that the four words he’s chosen can convey pretty much everything. They are: “more,” “that,” “no” and “cookie.” Even now, I’m trying to think of a life situation where those four words wouldn’t be sufficient to navigate to a successful conclusion, and I’m drawing a blank. You could probably turn on C-SPAN right now and watch an entire debate made up of only those words.

“That!” the distinguished gentleman from Tennessee would yell, pointing to a pie chart.

“More!” half the room would scream, nodding.

“No!” the other half would yell, throwing papers into the air.

Then, from the back row, someone would yell, “COOOOK-IEEEEEE!” and they’d break for lunch.

If Zack was our first son, we’d probably be charting his verbal progress against his peers, observing his every breath, recording his percentiles and stressing out when he reached a milestone a week later than he should. But he’s our second kid, which means as long as he’s still running into coffee tables headfirst like he’s supposed to, we’re good.

I waved another toaster waffle in the air to cool it off.

“That!” Zack said.

I put the kids’ PB&J sandwiches into their lunch boxes, thinking of the applicable peanut butter slogan, the full version of which goes something like: “Choosy moms choose Jif, while dad sits on the couch with his hand down his pants.” There’s also the breakfast cereal with the related slogan: “Kid tested, mother approved. Dad’s in the bathroom; leave him alone.”

Someone should alert these companies that sometimes, dads also play an active role in their kids’ lives. Sure, it’s mostly by teaching them which body functions to laugh at, but still.

“Want to go wake up your big brother?” I asked Zack.

He nodded and ran for the stairs. In Evan’s room, we gently rousted him by having certain waffle-wielding members of our party dive onto his head. While I feel for Evan being rudely awakened by my henchman every day, there’s a certain poetic justice to it all. We’ll be even after about seven million more roustings.

“Everything okay?” Kara asked, dressed for work, her makeup and blouse contrasting with my morning breath and flannel.

“They’re all yours,” I said. Like tag-team wrestlers, we high-fived and switched places. Her turn in the ring, my turn to get presentable.

“Oh, there’s some big news waiting for you downstairs. Something about artificial flavors,” I said, heading for the shower.

She started to ask what I was talking about, but then one of the wrestlers from the opposing team hit her with a folding chair. Or maybe it was a request for help getting dressed. Either way, dad’s in the bathroom; leave him alone.