I should have realized my folly when one day my wife explained that the chosen name for our son, Ryan, came from the old Irish word meaning “little king.” I suppose that after receiving the title, my little man figured I owed him nothing less than a life of servitude. As a stay-at-home dad, I now realize exactly what is expected of me as his underling.
My lord arises each morning around 7. Befitting his kingly stature, he sleeps soundly, saving his energy, for he knows it will be an exhausting day filled with many commands and demands upon his court of one. After my wife leaves for work, he beckons with piercing cries and I come running.
First, my sovereign needs his royal outfit changed, as he has soiled himself during his sleep. The task complete, it does not take long for the royal tummy to growl and soon the king demands his chalice of formula. But does his highness take it himself? Oh no, it must be held for him so his fingers should not be dirtied.
After this feast, the lord must inspect his holdings. He begins with his bouncy seat play land, surrounded by an assortment of toys that gibber and jabber at his command. Next, he demands to see his ocean world play set, where he attempts to grasp stuffed sea creatures and watches a bedazzling seascape of lights and images dance above him. Finally, he settles on scrutinizing the remainder of the estate by riding in his carriage swing. It is here, rocking back and forth to soothing lullaby tunes, that he drifts off for a brief nap. The job of ruling over such a vast domain is tiring for one so small.
You would think that when the master arises from this short catnap he would be glad to see his loyal subject there to greet him, but no. He bellows, pounding his fists and kicking his legs until a new chalice of brew is brought forth. This satisfies his lordship only temporarily as he soon becomes bored with his snack. He now expects his lowly subject to become Merlin the magician and discover new ways to amaze and astound. Using an array of toys, tricks and magnificent illusions, I work my magic until his majesty waves me away.
If it is not a magic show the lord requires then he might call for his court jester. I then dance and make faces that he finds pleasing. However, this often fails to entertain the master, for he has seen these acts before. Next, he summons his minstrel, and I obey, singing him a song or two. As the minstrel does not have the strongest of voices or the best collection of material, the song is often cut short by the king’s own vocal chorus of cries.
The afternoon ends with the summonsing of the village scribe who recites a tale to his lord and master. Depending on the quality of the performance, the king will determine if I will live to see another day or instead be tormented with screaming and wailing worse than any medieval torture device.
Then, as if with the wave of a magic wand, the fair and lovely Princess Mommy returns from work. With her entrance through the castle walls, it is as if a magical spell, more powerful than any that Merlin could conjure, has been cast across the kingdom, and it is only then that the king is calm and satisfied.
This leaves dear old dad, exhausted and feeling like the village idiot, to wait until he can pay homage to and entertain his lordship again tomorrow.
Kris Calhoun is a stay-at-home dad living in Westchester.