Posted by: itneverrainsinseattle | February 1, 2011

Spilt Milk

My life continues to be a sitcom. And that’s okay, because I’m still good in a pinch.

So, the day before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (I refrained from making my Facebook status “Free at last! Free at last! Thank god almighty, free at last!” because that would have been too cheeky… but I thought it!), Penny and I moved out of the marital home, and our custody schedule began to be put into practice. That’s right, just a few weeks ago I became in actuality a single father. As it worked out, I ended up taking the kids for the first weekend of our arrangement, giving me the first extended stay with the kids at my new home.

Now, I haven’t told you the lice story, but suffice it to say that before we left the marital home, we had to deal with special shampoos for the kids and the parents and just all kinds of inconvenience. I mention that by way of mentioning this: one fine morning at Casa INRIS, all three boys needed showers/baths to wash their hair, and I had to get everybody up and out of the house earlier than usual.

The youngest of the three refused to take his shower, but the oldest took his, and I finally convinced the middle child to shower while the oldest got some cereal and the youngest continued his refusal. I had to wash middle child’s hair, when I hear the oldest child crying from the next room. Loudly.

Well, that’s inconvenient.

I might have chosen to ignore it — it wasn’t a cry of pain — but something made me decide to investigate. Turns out, he had tried to take a full gallon of milk down from the top shelf of the fridge (this fridge is a side-by-side, and the top shelf is higher than the top-and-bottom fridge we had at the old place), and he dropped it. The container burst, and was proceeding to spill all over the new kitchen floor. Glug, glug, glug.

And he’s crying.

And I hear middle child call from the bathroom, “Daaaaad! [Youngest child] is peeing in the tub!

And oldest child is still crying. Loudly.

While the milk glugglugglugs all over the kitchen floor.

What did I do? Really, it was the milk that did it to me. I just… centered. “There’s no use crying over spilt milk,” is the first thought that came to mind. And I centered.

I took the bath towel that I had in my hand and draped it onto the milk on the floor, while picking up the container and setting it on the counter as best I could to save what little was left. I went back to the bathroom to open the drain. “Sorry, kids, you’ll have to get out for a minute.”

And back to the kitchen. Wow, that was a lot of milk. Grab another few towels. Set it down and mop up as best I can. Go back to the bathroom to clean out the tub. Middle child’s hair is… okay. I guess. Youngest still needs the medicine to be rinsed out. But there’s no hot water left, so that will have to wait.

Back to the kitchen. Oldest child has calmed down. Is the bottom shelf in the fridge roomy enough to hold milk? Why, yes it is. Noted for future reference. I look at the container. It’s our last container. But there’s just barely enough to allow for three small bowls of cereal.

Okay. I get out the cereal for the kids. Spoons. Pour the milk. Get middle child dressed. Continue to reassure oldest child. Oh, he says, I have homework due this morning. Awesome.

That’s okay. No use crying over spilt milk. The kids eat. Well two out of three eat, which is going to have to be good enough. Check the water. Yes, it’s hot enough. Fill up tub for youngest. He won’t let me wash his hair. I wash it anyway, to much crying, but it has to be done. Go into what we’re calling a dining room. Review and sign teacher report. Go to my bedroom. Brush teeth, get dressed. I’d already showered. Alas, not enough time to shave. Bleh. Are those bags under my eyes? Hmm. Not getting enough sleep. That’s okay, I’m feeling great anyway.

Get youngest dressed. Sure, oldest child, I’ll look that over for you. “Footwear!” I command. Everyone gets their boots/shoes/sandals. Yes, this is Seattle, and yes, middle child insists on sandals with socks. Into the car, everyone, off we go.


And we were only a few minutes late. I consider that a moral victory.


True story: When the kids are staying at their mother’s house, I pick up the oldest from his gymnastics practice and drop him off at Penny’s. (She returns the favor to me on the days I have the kids; it’s a lot easier for now than to have to marshal all the kids into the car and interrupt the evening rituals.)

Because the kids have asked me to, I make a point of coming in to say hi to them before heading back out. So, it’s all hugs and kisses, “Hi, Daddy! Hi! Daddy’s Car! Hi! Hi, Dad!” Up. Hug. Kiss. Down. Up. Hug. “Hi, buddy.” Down.

And before Penny and I can exchange more than two words on the next day’s schedule, or the bills that need attention, it’s, “Bye, Daddy! Bye! Love you, too! Bye! Daddy’s Car! See you later! Good night! Love you! Bye! Bye, Daddy! Bye!” Grabbing for hugs and goodnight kisses.

And they keep it up until I finally turn to go.

It’s hilarious. It’s cute as hell. And it’s impossible to get a few moments just to work out stuff with Penny.

But it’s all good.

When viewed correctly, my life is a sitcom… just, without the laugh track.



  1. Great story… I laughed 🙂

  2. Sitcoms without laugh tracks are always better anyways.

    And isn’t it interesting that when things are at their worst all at once, things seem to move in slow motion and you figure out quickly how to handle it all, and as calmly as possible? For me, that’s more common when wife is not around. The more people who know what shouldn’t be happening, the harder it is to just deal with it.

  3. wow. that’s an amazing amount of wherewithal to keep your head when all around you are losing theirs. i am impressed as hell.

  4. Aw! I love the chants they do when you come and go. That’s so cute. And the spilled milk, yea, that would annoy the crap out of me, that’s a LOT of milk, but of course, you make the best of it and just make a funny out of it ‘no crying over spilt milk.’ Har. Har. I love it. Glad things are chugging along…

  5. That’s great. It’s not often you can literally apply a cliche to a situation.

    When I was a kid and someone would spill milk at the dinner table, my dad would yell at us that we should have been more careful. True story.

    So, you’re a much better dad than mine was.

  6. Even though I’m sure it’s all-consumingly-crazy right now – I have a feeling you may have not been this happy in awhile – so good on you!

  7. Long time lurker, first time commenting just to say: That is awesome. I love that you took it all in stride and handled it like a zen master. You sound really happy. And the fact that you didn’t cry over spilled milk kinda proves it; yes?

    You are a way better human being than I am. I may have had a few choice expletives over the milk. Not at my kiddo, but at the milk or just into the air in general. LOL!

    Your sitcom made me smile. Thank you for sharing that. 🙂

  8. How wonderful! I’m so glad to read how well you’re handling things. My house is just as chaotic on the nights I have the kids, but you know what? I’m handling the stress so much better now that I’m a single parent. And it sounds like you are too. All those fears I had about being a single parent were just that. Fears. The reality is that getting a divorce was the best decision I ever made for all of us.
    And by the way, I too would love to change my status to “Free at last”! Too funny!

  9. Welcome to single parenthood. I’ve had plenty of “spilt milk” moments. Good for you for keeping your head on straight and handling things! Not an easy task. 🙂

  10. I think you’re going to be just fine … glad you can laugh at this. Sounds like the kids are doing fine also.

  11. Excellent response, Dad! Now your son won’t grow up with recurring nightmares.

  12. I have to throw my hat in the same ring as the others who are telling you that you’ve handled the transition wonderfully!

    Damn – you seem totally together despite the situation. Maybe you’re still feeling the road rather new and shakey, but you’d never know it. You seem to have form and confidence to spare and I praise you for that!

  13. Wow. Yep. I’ve had more days like that than I can count! And there will be a day when you lose your shit, too. Don’t feel bad. We all do.

    Sounds like you’re going to handle this just fine.

  14. Note to self: Move milk down to lower shelf.

    P.S. Sorry, I replied so late; keep getting distracted from blog reading.

  15. Wow. There is a reason to cry over spilt milk, though. Have you ever tried to get milk out of carpet?! Eek! When I was a kid, I spilled a glass in my bedroom. I NEVER told my mom/step dad. I could not get it out. It began to smell like death itself. If it happened to me now, you can bet I’d be crying about it!

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