Martin Hackworth NEW

Martin Hackworth

Mr. Mom — that’s me. In our home, we have what you call a modern living arrangement. My wife goes off to work while I cook meals, wash clothes and change a lot of poopie diapers. To be fair to my wife, she changes a lot of poopie diapers, too. She also takes the kids to swim lessons and music lessons. I guess that makes me a bust out as even a Mr. Mom since I can’t handle all the chores that women have generally taken care of for generations.

Nonetheless, I’m very happy with my current station in life. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. There’s nothing like being able to take as much time as you want to play with your kids, read to them, take them on bicycle rides and the like. I enjoy fixing all of those dinners and changing diapers. And yes, I hear my own mom every time I tell one of them that they are going straight to bed if they don’t eat their vegetables.

Having small children when you are older is great if you can figure out a way to make it happen. When I was in my 20s, I could barely take care of myself. Forty years later, I’m in a much better place. It’s really nice to be able to do things with my kids now without having to worry about constraints that I could not ignore back then.

Unusual? Yes. A burden? Anything but. It’s not Ozzie and Harriet, but I’ll take it.

Regardless of age or station, one of the most rewarding things in life is watching your kids grow. Personally, I don’t care what kind of a screw up you might otherwise be, if you do a good job raising kids you’re OK with me.

Interestingly, if you have a solid family you probably don’t much care what I think — about this or anything else. That is perhaps the greatest blessing of a good family. Why should I or anyone else so fortunate want to spend time fussing with anyone they don’t have to when it’s that or take a bike ride with the grommets.

The only bad thing about watching your kids grow is that it occupies a distressingly short period of time. One minute you are watching them learn to walk, seemingly the next you are handing them the car keys. You have to enjoy it while it lasts, and not waste any of it, if you can manage.

On that subject. Why is it that by the time a kid has a modest vocabulary of, perhaps, a few dozen words, about half of them have something to do with sass?

Further, why is the word “poopie” one of the first words that kids can a) pronounce flawlessly, b) use in contexts both practical and imaginative, and c) use as a noun, a verb or an adjective?

Our preschool daughter is way too much of a little princess to use the word “poopie” in any context that involves herself. She saves that word strictly for describing her older brother. When it’s personal she refers to poopie as “stinky bananas.” I kid you not.

One of the things that my wife and I are trying to do is travel with our kids as much as possible. I dragged my teenager all over the country when he was young. I think that it does youngsters a lot of good to be exposed to different people, different ideas and different customs. We’ve taken them on long RV road trips all over North America. Nothing in my life, and that means nothing, has been as much fun as these trips.

Normally the garage in our toy hauler is filled with motorcycles and mountain bikes. But on family trips we convert it to an 8.5’ x 12’ playroom, filled with toys. We’ll drive a few hundred miles in the morning, pull over for an extended lunch and some play time, then travel a few hundred more miles in the afternoon to wherever we are going that day. It’s slow, but way more fun than airplanes and hotel rooms.

Plus you get to meet people along the way. One of the reasons I’m so set in my belief that, despite what’s frequently portrayed in the media, most people are fundamentally good, is because I’ve met a lot of them through travel. I’d really like for my kids to have the same opportunities and hopefully reach the same conclusions.

Ah, well. I have to go. I think I have some stinky bananas to attend to.

Associated Press and Idaho Press Club award-winning columnist Martin Hackworth of Pocatello is a physicist, writer, consultant and retired Idaho State University faculty member who now spends his time raising children, llama farming, riding mountain bikes and motorcycles and playing guitars. His video blog, “Howlin’ at the Moon in ii-V-I,” may be found at facebook.com/HowlinattheMoonin251 and on YouTube at bit.ly/2SN745k.