Best Day Ever

I haven’t worked since Tuesday. No open shifts, which is rare. I guess a lot of part-timers are home from school and looking to make some Christmas or school money. They get priority on the open shifts. I’ve been spending the week driving my girlfriend’s kids around. I’ve been carrying my pager with me hoping to jump on any shift that gets paged out, but nothing comes over. The kids were asking me yesterday if I was working today. Not yet, I said. Will we have fun then? the six-year-old asked. If I’m not working, I suppose we can do some fun things, I told her.

Last night I made everyone spaghetti and then we had ice cream and watched ELF, which I thought was really funny. When it was over, only the six-year old and me were still awake. The eleven-year old and mom were dead asleep. We nudged them awake and sleep-walked them to bed.

This morning a page came over while I sat at the computer. I quickly checked it, hoping for a shift. (I really need some extra money myself. Christmas time I have been spending entirely too much money. I feel like I am walking around with my wallet open, saying here, rob me.)

No shift. Just a page for one of the crews to call operations.

About ten minutes later, the six-year-old comes in, wiping the sleep out of her eyes.

Are you working today?

Not yet.

“So we’re going to have some fun today then?

“Yeah, I guess. It’s looking that way.”

I make breakfast. Bacon and waffles and cut up some bannanas. Pour some juice.

Their mother goes off to work.

We go duckpin bowling.

The six-year old wins the first round with an 85. I roll a 74. The eleven-year old wins the next one with a 101. I get a 100, ending strong with a spare and my first strike. She needs five pins to beat me. She knocks down five. Not one less, not one more.

Then its off to Chucky Cheese. We get 100 tokens and a large pizza, half pepperoni, half cheese. I eat the pepperoni half and watch as they run around from machine to machine. The little one jumps up and down four times when she hits a fifty ticket bonus on the dinosaur spinning machine. She runs back to the table, holding the connected tickets high in the air, streaming behind her like a kite.

I try one ride – the jet ski race. I wipe out a couple times and come in 10th out of 10. I have never finished better than 10th. One trip to the Cheese’s place I tried eight times. Now I only try once, then walk back to the table and the last slice of pepperoni. I shake some red pepper flakes on it to make it edible.

Before we go, we have our pictures taken at the Chuck E. Cheese studio booth. Then the kids cash in their tickets and get cotton candy, a Chucky Cheese lollipop, a Captain Hook hand and a lizard. Oh, and they get me a couple Smarties candies, which they know I like. Thank you, I say.

Driving back, the six-year old says, “This is the best day ever!” She uses that line a lot, but I always like to here it.

Later we go to the library where I help them get their first library cards. They take out a book and a movie each. We stop at the supermarket and buy sugar cookie dough and make some Christmas cookies. We unknowingly make the dough a little too thick so the molds of a candle, bells and a wreath all produce shapeless blobs of cookies, which the kids shrug about and then eat rapidly before I take the rest away for later.

Around seven I drive them to their grandmother’s house, where an aunt and cousins have arrived today. They are excited to see them.

I’m here alone now, drinking a beer after cleaning the house, and doing some last minute wrapping.

Tomorrow morning I am back at work. I’m working 6-6. We’ll have dinner and open presents in the evening. Christmas day I’m working 6-6 again. Their mom is working all day too.

I got them some good stuff.

Have a safe and Happy Holiday, everyone!

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