The other day, my husband and I were taking an Uber ride with the kids to go visit friends. My 14-month-old daughter was screaming in her car seat and my 3-year-old son was whining next to me as I was frantically digging through the diaper bags for toys and snacks. “It’s such a fun time, right?” the driver said to us. I fake laughed between the shrieking but then realized that he wasn’t joking. The driver proceeded to tell us about his four grown kids and how wonderful it had been to raise them and how much he missed this age. I was mortified. Not because my children were behaving like little terrors in the backseat, but because we had spent all morning (OK, all weekend) scolding them and counting down the hours until bedtime. Fun wasn’t exactly the word that came to mind.
Of course, I blame my husband. I’m a fun parent! And when I’m not it’s because I’m too busy carrying the mental load. If someone needed to step it up in the fun department, it was him. I wracked my brain to think of the most playful parent I could and came up with…Bandit! Everyone’s favorite anthropomorphic blue dog from Down Under, the father in the hit TV series Bluey. Married to Chilli, Bandit Heeler is all the things a modern dad aspires to be—fun-loving, patient and engaged, while seemingly having enough time for his friends, marriage and hobbies.
And so, I challenged my husband to channel Bandit for a day in an effort to make our lives more fun, which in turn would surely make us more connected and bonded as a family. Here’s how it went with our two children, our 3-year-old son A and our 14-month-old daughter N.
5:30 a.m. N is up. I toss a pillow at my husband and tell him to get her before she wakes up the other one. He ignores me. “It’s your Bandit day!” I mumble. “Dogs sleep all the time,” he counters. N’s babbling turns into screaming, I push him out of the bed in a very un-Chilli like fashion.