Thriller Writer Tj O'Connor

The Pappa Files: “Operation Babysit”

Feb 28, 2024

Pappa Log: February 22. Somewhere in Winchester, Virginia.

I am Pappa. There are many pappas. But I am unique. Trust me. I am an anti-terrorism consultant by profession. An author of numerous novels by devotion. A Harley Davidson pilot, a man about dogs (and now cats), and an adventurer. I am a father to five and Pappa to eight and counting.

Attention Legal Department: Where did I sign up for this? Who said I was a multi-tasker babysitting two extra 100-pound-plus dogs, 15 ducks, a ten-year-old nemesis, and a two-year-old child of mayhem? I want names! I want to see the fine print in the Pappa contract! Dammit, man, I didn’t go through years of terrorists, murderers, thieves, and spies to deal with this!

Where is the humanity?

There is only one solution. Approach this as a military operation. That will get me through it.

Situation: Youngest daughter exfiltrating the US on another (yes another) vacation. Two grands, ages 10 and 2, two labs (100 pounds and 125 pounds), 15 ducks, and one cat assigned to the Ops Team (my wife and I). No pre-coordination with Ops Team on dates, events, logistics, etc. This is an ad hoc operation.

Launch Date: Feb 22. Reentry date: Eleven days, 18 hours, 28 minutes, and 52 seconds from launch. (But who’s counting?)

Ops Tempo: Insanity. Two dogs added to home with our two dogs of same size. Cat with our two new cats. Ducks are ducks care—twice daily care 15 miles away. Grands—care, feeding, cleaning, homework, playtime, bedtime, and school transport to and from.

H-Hour, D-Day has arrived.

Mission Objective: Maintain order and discipline. Survive at all costs.

Day 1: All is lost.

Visiting cat declared war on home cats—it has been banished back home with daily health checks—my scars will heal. Visiting dogs (who have been raised with our dogs) believe our home is a battlefield of play, destruction, and chaos. Ducks are a PITA, but pretty good with wild berry glaze, white wine, and wild rice. Bon appetite! A million renditions of Micky Mouse Club House. Homework with long-division that new education performs like it’s Greek—and I speak Greek! Wife and I in separate bedrooms splitting dogs and kids. All four dogs demand to bed with me—all must touch me. All vie for the sweet spot—on top of me. Ten-year-old is a WWE fighter in her sleep. No sleep.

Wife escapes each morning at 0500. Returns 1800. Hmmm, I’ve been had.

Ten-year-old is a godsend, though professes her goal in life is to torment me—she is very successful. She is the “that’s a dollar” kid from previous posts—she’s making a fortune. She is going on 15. Boys are coming into focus. Homework is “eh.” Video games and board games are her schtick. Too smart for her own good. But, she has stepped up to be my aide-de-camp. I’ve brought in cash for bribes and gratuities.

Two-year-old is a two-year-old on steroids. Her favorite pastime is tormenting me—say yes but mean no. Refuse all requests for cooperation. An evil grin right before running like hell in the opposite direction. Loves to find new and inventive ways of screwing with me. Does not understand a good dollar bribe.

God save me.

Day 2: Imminent Mission Failure.

Breakfast and last-minute studying at 0700. 10-year-old rises to the challenge to aide me in combating two-year-old. Two-year-old killing me with Mickey Mouse and a sudden hatred of her favorite breakfast foods, clothes selected for school, anything that requires a “Yes” answer. Combats diaper change yet still finds the words and proper pronunciation to say, “Pappa, no, no, no. Not that way. Pappa, no, no. Come on, Pappa!”

Visiting dogs have eaten two pizza boxes, a couch cushion, eight dog toys, three kid toys, and a running shoe. There is an Amazon delivery on the front porch. The Amazon truck is in the drive. The Amazon driver is missing. You don’t suppose . . . naw, they wouldn’t? Would they?

Thank God for ten-year-old. Her operations to support wrangling two-year-old is now costing me cash and promises of future game nights and video plays. Her ability to remember promises and fees owed to her is remarkable. Yet, seems to struggle with long-division and math. Hmmmm ….. am I being manipulated? Yes, of course, I am. But, I have the advantage—I know I’m being manipulated. And as GI Joe says, “knowing is half the battle.”

Grands at school. Dogs sleeping between combat—all around my desk. There is stillness. I may survive this after all.

Wait . . . it’s time to pick up the grands from school. I have called for reinforcements. Adult children have refused assignments. It’s only day 2.

Pappa’s Log—Epilog:

Surrender may be my only option. Does the Geneva Convention apply to Pappas?


I first fell in love with writing while in grade school and over the years continued to dabble with characters and stories whenever life allowed. Lately, I've focused my energy on pursuing this dream—interrupted only by life as a security consultant and the demands of two Labrador retrievers.

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