Taeyong wakes up to the sound of crying coming from down the hall. He sighs, throwing the blanket off himself and trudging down the hall to the twin’s room.
“It’s okay, Lele, come here.” He picks up the 4-year-old and cradles him in his arms. “It’s okay baby.” He quiets down, but not before the sound of more little feet makes Taeyong sigh even louder. Some days, being a single parent is hard.
“Daddy, why is Lele crying?”
“Yeah, what’s wrong?”
“Don’t worry about Lele. Are you two going to be able to go back to sleep, or is it just an early day?” Taeyong looks at the two boys. They’re each hugging their favorite little stuffed animals.
“Okay JenJen, Nana, let’s go downstairs and cuddle on the couch until your brothers wake up.” Chenle had calmed down and fallen back asleep in Taeyong’s arms, so before following the other boys downstairs, he tucks him back into bed.
Downstairs, Taeyong is able to use a cartoon to lull Jaemin and Jeno back to sleep. He even gets a few extra minutes of sleep himself.
He wakes up again when Renjun climbs onto his lap. “Daddy, It’s breakfast time.” The movement wakes up Jeno and Jaemin, too.
Taeyong stretches and follows his boys into the kitchen. It’s earlier than they usually wake up, only around 6 am. The three boys climb up onto the kitchen chairs and wait for Taeyong to get their food.
Thinking ahead, Taeyong pours the cereal for the missing three boys and will add the milk when they wake up. The two young ones and Donghyuck are always the ones sleeping in later. As they eat, Taeyong prepares all their lunch boxes. He likes making sure the boys eat enough food that’s good for them, so he tries to make it fun. Recently, they’ve really been liking the cute bento boxes Taeyong puts together.
After all six boys have had their cereal, they race each other up the stairs to get dressed for school. It didn’t take them very long to wake up and gain their energy.
The older four can usually pick out decent clothes for themselves, but Chenle and Jisung still need help sometimes. Taeyong will pick out their clothes, but Chenle likes to do it himself. Jisung, however, enjoys being babied and will whine for help getting dressed.
By 8:45, Taeyong has them all loaded into the van. His other single dad friends all made fun of him the first time they saw it, calling it a mom van, but he didn’t have a choice since he does have 6 kids. And no matter what they say, he likes the light blue color.
He gets them to school on time; all the boys have their own little backpacks filled with their lunch boxes and work books. Renjun, Jeno, Donghyuck, and Jaemin are all in kindergarten while Chenle and Jisung are in preschool. Everything is in the same building right now. Taeyong is glad. He doesn’t have to drive all around the city in the morning to get everyone there on time.
“Hi Taeyong. How are the boys this morning?” The preschool teacher, Doyoung, holds the door open for the mess of boys running inside.
“Hey. It’s been a long morning already. I need some coffee.”
“Were they up early again?”
“Yeah, Lele woke up crying and that woke the other boys up.”
Another voice joins the conversation, “Oh, that does sound like a rough morning.”
“Shut up Johnny, your kids aren’t perfect either. Didn’t Mark bite Lucas last week?”
“Low blow, Yong.” Johnny has a kid on each arm. Mark and Lucas are twins, and they’re a year older than Taeyong’s quadruplets. “Go inside boys, I’ll be in in a few minutes.”
“The biting is a problem, Johnny. A kid his age shouldn’t have that behavior.” The boy’s kindergarten teacher has joined the small gathering at the front door.
“Hey Jungwoo. Who’s that new guy in the hallway? Is he a new dad? New teacher?”
Jungwoo laughs. “That’s Sicheng. He’s a new teacher’s assistant. He’ll travel between the classrooms and help out wherever needed. He’s very nice, but a little shy.”
The dad gathering ends when they have to get the kids signed in. Taeyong writes down all their names and his own, and then he heads back to the parking lot.
Johnny stops him outside. “Are you free tonight? I want to make those playdate dinners a regular thing. You, Ten, Kun, my house, 5 o’clock?”
“Sounds good. Are you actually going to work today? You have a suit on.” Johnny is a big time CEO. He has so many people working under him that he doesn’t have to go to work unless he wants to or if there’s an emergency. He can do a lot of his work remotely.
Taeyong is in a similar boat. He runs a successful daddy blog. He started it for fun while he was looking for work. The boys were about to be old enough to start preschool, so he would have had time to get a job. But, he had started blogging about the struggles he faced as a single dad with 6 little boys, and somehow, it gained a lot of popularity. Brands send him free stuff to review, or they’ll sponsor posts, or ask for ads on Taeyong’s blogsite. He never expected to make a living off of it, but it’s made his life a lot easier. He makes his own hours, which helps him have time for the boys.
“Yes, I have a big meeting today. You know, gotta make that money.” Taeyong rolls his eyes.
“Okay, have fun with that. I’m going to the cafe for a little bit. I need to get some coffee in me.”
Taeyong hops into his van. The cafe is only a few blocks away. At this point, he should have his own parking spot out front.
Sometimes he likes to bring his laptop to the cafe to start writing his blog posts. He orders his regular latte. If he’s here longer, he’ll get another non-coffee drink.
He stays for a few hours. He likes the calming sounds of no kids screaming at each other.
“You know, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a grown man order a pink drink.” Taeyong didn’t realize the stranger is talking to him.
He looks up from his laptop. “I didn’t want to have 2 coffees so early in the morning.”
“I see. Do you come here often? I feel like I would have noticed you.” Taeyong enjoys being flirted with, especially with such cheesy lines.
“There’s a flaw in your boldness. I’m here every day at the same time, so either you didn’t notice me, or it’s your first time here.” He can’t help but giggle when the stranger’s ears turn pink.
“Oh, that was stupid. Even after me embarrassing myself, would you mind if I sit with you?”
“Go ahead.” Taeyong glances at the stranger. He’s cute. He definitely is younger. His skin is perfect, not a wrinkle in sight. And his hair is dyed a soft silvery purple.
“You like my hair?”
“Just wondering what type of job you have that lets you keep your hair so fun. Most places aren’t that progressive yet.”
The stranger laughs. “I work in a library right now.”
“You see, I just finished getting my masters degree in psychology, but I haven’t been able to find a permanent job yet, so while I look, I’m just a librarian.” Taeyong is impressed by this stranger.
“Since you studied psychology, shouldn’t you know that people are more comfortable when they know the name of the person they’re talking to?”
“Oh shit, right. I’m Jaehyun. Jung Jaehyun. What about you Mr. Pink Drink?”
“I don’t know if I should tell you. I’m liking that nickname.”
“Pretty please?” Taeyong swoons. Jaehyun’s pout just reminds him of his kids.
“It is nice to meet you Lee Taeyong. How old are you? You don’t seem to be rushing to work like everyone else.”
“I work from home.” Taeyong motions to his laptop. “And I’m 28.”
“An older man,”Jaehyun wiggles his eyebrows, teasingly. “I’m 24 years young.”
Taeyong takes a minute to think about this new guy. He’s got such a zest for life. It’s not often Taeyong is flirted with, and usually when it does happen, it’s coming from the single moms at the school. Jaehyun also isn’t as pushy as those women.
“Before I awkwardly embarrass myself again, can I ask if you’re single?” The question catches him off guard.
“Uhhh, yeah, I guess I am.”
“You guess? I don’t understand.”
“It’s been awhile since I’ve done this.” Taeyong hesitates and he catches Jaehyun staring at his hands. He looks down to see that he is subconsciously toying with the finger his wedding ring used to sit.
“Were you married?”
That snaps Taeyong back to the present. “Yeah, but that’s not a story for right now. It’s been a few years, but have you ever been in a long relationship and when it ends, you just feel like you don’t know what you’re doing anymore? You don’t know how long to wait to move on, or if moving on is okay...Oh god, I’m ranting, I’m sorry.”
“Don’t apologize, Taeyong. It’s okay. I do get it. It can be hard to start all over again. You never know when you’re ready.” The words are comforting.
Taeyong takes a deep breath, and he takes a chance. “I’m going to give you my number. I have to get home so I can finish my work for the day, but text me sometime. I would like to get to know you, Jung Jaehyun.” Taeyong scribbles his phone number onto a scrap piece of paper and hands it over to Jaehyun.
When he gets to his van, he starts freaking out. He just flirted with a guy. He just gave a cute guy his phone number. What has he become?
He gets home and goes right to his office. He didn’t get a lot done at the coffee shop. Once he sits down to start writing, he can’t help but mention what happened.
Taeyong’s blog is quite popular among all different types of people. He gets a lot of messages from people who lost a spouse and they tell him that reading his blog helped them get through the rough period while still trying to be a good parent. Some other messages are parents struggling through divorces, and some are just new parents who have no idea what they’re doing. Taeyong finds comfort in the fact that he can help people.
5/22/20 - A New Experience
Today started pretty normally. Lele woke up crying and woke some of the others up. After some cuddles on the couch, I made them all breakfast, packed their lunches, and dropped them all off at school. I headed to my local Starbucks like I do every morning. Today was different though.
Someone came up and was flirting with me. We talked for a little bit and they asked if I was single. I panicked, but ultimately said I was, and then before I left, I gave the person my number. They’re younger than me and they had the same bubbly personality my little boys do. I was endeared, so maybe that’s what led me to flirt back. This is new for me though. It’s been just me and my boys for the last 3+ years. I haven’t tried dating since I lost their mom. I didn’t know if I ever would be ready to date or see anyone else. I was always just content being a single dad.
But when this person came up to me and I saw their smile, I don’t know what came over me. I felt like I was floating. It felt nice to feel wanted like that again. I hope they text me sometime. I don’t know where this will go, but I guess it doesn’t hurt to find out.
He adds some pictures he took today: Jeno and Jaemin sleeping on him, the lunch boxes he made for the boys, and his coffee at Starbucks. Almost immediately after posting it, Taeyong is getting comments from people who went through similar things.
“This happened to me. After my husband and I separated, I didn’t think I’d ever want to get remarried, but when I found the right guy, I knew it almost immediately and my kids love him too! I wish you luck!”
“I hope whoever this person is likes kids haha! This one person I dated after my divorce didn’t know I had kids and they got really freaked out upon finding out. It’s all good now.”
Taeyong likes reading people’s comments. It makes him feel a lot less alone when he goes through difficult situations.
Around 3:15, Taeyong heads back to the school to pick up the boys. Some days, if he needs a few extra hours to get work done or clean up around the house, he’ll have the boys stay for the after school program until 5, but today, he didn’t have much else to do aside from his usual daily blog post. He also didn’t have to go shopping or start preparing dinner since everyone is meeting up at Johnny’s.
“Daddy!” Jisung is always the happiest to see Taeyong after school. He scoops his youngest son into his arms.
“Hello my little boys!” The rest of them run over and hug Taeyong’s legs. “How was school today?”
“We drew you pictures Daddy!” Jaemin waves a stack of papers up at Taeyong. “It’s from all of us!” Taeyong sets Jisung down so he can look at all the drawings.
“These are beautiful! How about we hang them up when we get home?” Taeyong usually lets the boys hang up their drawings wherever they want. The living room and kitchen and the hallway upstairs are all decorated with pictures the kids have made. Whenever they take some down to make room for new ones, Taeyong can’t stand the thought of throwing them away, so he has separate little binders for each of the boys and he keeps everything safe.
Getting all of his hyper kids in the car takes longer than it does in the mornings when they’re still a bit tired.
Back at home, Taeyong sets out little plates of fruit for the boys to snack on.
“Do you guys want to go to Markie and Lucas’s house for dinner? Mr. Johnny invited us over. Yangyang will be there, and Xiaojun and Hendery.” He is met with cheers and laughter.
“Hyuckie was picking on Markie today!” Renjun points at his brother.
“Liar! We were playing!”
“No, you were chasing him!”
“We were playing!” Donghyuck raises his voice.
Taeyong sighs. “Donghyuck, stop yelling. We use inside voices. It’s also not nice to call people a liar. Renjun, Mark and Hyuckie always chase each other and play like that. Don’t try and get your brother in trouble for no reason. If you keep acting up, we’ll stay here for dinner.” Taeyong doesn’t like having to play the bad guy and discipline his boys, but he has to. He wants his kids to grow up knowing right from wrong.
“No! We wanna go to Mr. Johnny’s house.” Renjun pouts.
“Then you two need to say sorry to each other.”
“Renjun, don’t make me count to 3. I’ll put you with Chenle and Jisung to take a nap if you’re going to act like a baby.”
At the threat of having to nap, Renjun apologizes to Donghyuck. If there’s one thing Renjun doesn’t like, it’s being treated like he’s younger.
“Thank you. You four go play outside. I’ll come out after tucking these two in.” Taeyong watches the four boys scurry out the back door to go play in the backyard.
Chenle and Jisung still take naps after getting home. Chenle is starting to not want to, but Jisung likes getting to sleep in the middle of the day. Taeyong knows they’re getting a little old for naps, so soon he’ll start to phase them out. He doesn’t mind letting them nap today since they’ll get all tired out at Johnny’s later.
“Come on you two. Let’s go upstairs.”
“Daddy, I’m not tired.” Chenle rubs his eyes and yawns.
“Lele, don’t you want to nap so you have more energy to play with your friends later?”
The little boy yawns again. “Okay.”
They let Taeyong pick them up, one on each arm, and carry them up to their room. Chenle is already half asleep by the time Taeyong gets up the stairs. He sets Jisung down and then lays Chenle in his bed and covers him up. Taeyong turns to Jisung. He climbed in bed, but is sitting there waiting for Taeyong to tuck him in.
“Love you daddy.”
“I love you too Sungie. Sleep well.” Taeyong kisses his little boy on the cheek and turns out the lights before shutting the door.
Back outside, Taeyong sits on the deck watching the boys play. They have a million toys and a small jungle gym. It’s more than enough for them to keep themselves entertained.
Taeyong texts Johnny to see if he needs him to bring anything.
‘Nope, just you and your flock of children.’
Johnny’s house is on the other side of town, so Taeyong starts loading up the kids into the car around 4:30. He went and woke Chenle and Jisung up right before. They usually take hour long naps, so he hopes they’ll fall back asleep in the car. Taeyong’s van has little tvs, so he puts on an episode of the boys’ favorite cartoon to hopefully keep them calm on the drive.
Taeyong loves when his group of dad friends gather. He can let his kids go play and have real talk with adults.
“Taeyong! How was your day?”
“Why are you smirking?”
Johnny laughs. “Your blog post from today was interesting.” Shit. He forgot about that.
He flops down next to Ten on the sofa. Johnny is stationed at the grill and Kun is cutting up vegetables. Johnny has a really nice outdoor kitchen area. It’s far enough away from the kid’s play stuff so they don’t have to watch their words.
“Wait, I didn’t read it yet. What happened?” Kun raises his eyebrow at Taeyong.
“So you know how I go to Starbucks after dropping the kids off?” Kun nods. “Well, today when I was there, a guy came up and started flirting with me. I gave him my number.”
“You didn’t say it was a guy!!!” Johnny almost drops the tongs he’s holding.
“Wait, you like men?”
Johnny sighs. “God damnit, Ten. You never listen. Taeyong is bi. We all are, how did you not know that?”
Kun jumps in. “I didn’t know that either.”
“I don’t talk about it often. I dated guys in high school, but then I met the boys’ mom in college.”
“Ah, I see. So, you met a guy and gave him your number. Why is that such a big deal? Johnny does that all the time.”
Johnny jumps in again. “It’s a big deal because Taeyong hasn’t seen anyone since /it/ happened.”
“Wait, you haven’t had sex in 3 years?”
“4 years, actually.”
“Since Chenle and Jisung were born. Right after we had them, we were too tired from having newborns, and then she got sick not long after. She lived at the hospital most of the time.”
“Okay, so you need to actually date this guy and get laid.”
“Ten, don’t be crude. But I agree.” Kun is about to start talking again, but gets interrupted by Taeyong screeching.
“I think he just texted me. It’s an unknown number.”
“Answer him, you idiot.”
Unknown- Hey Taeyong!
Tae- Is this Jaehyun?
Unknown- oh shit. Yes, this is Jaehyun from Starbucks.
Jae- I was uhh
Jae- just wondering if maybe
Jae- you wanted to go out to dinner tomorrow night?
“Oh fuck he asked me out.”
Johnny shakes his head. “Say yes.”
“I can’t find a babysitter on that short notice. He wants to get dinner tomorrow.” Taeyong is in panic mode.
“I’ll bring the boys over and watch them. Stay out as late as you want. Your couches are comfortable.”
“Wait are you serious?”
“Yes, Taeyong, now answer the poor boy.”
Tae- Yeah, that sounds nice
Jae- Do you want me to pick you up or should we meet there?
Tae- We can meet there. Did you have a place in mind?
Jae- Yep ;) I’ll send you the address. See you tomorrow Taeyongie!
Taeyong didn’t notice Johnny come up behind him and start reading the texts over his shoulder.
“Aww, he called you Taeyongie. And his name is Jaehyun. Seems cute.”
“How old is he? Your blog post said he’s younger.”
Taeyong’s attention is drawn over to the boys. They’re all yelling a lot louder than they were before.
Taeyong gets up and walks across the yard to see what’s going on.
Jisung is buried in the sandbox. “Stop burying your brother! Donghyuck, get over here, now!” He doesn’t notice Ten laughing from behind him. “Why did you bury Jisung?”
Hyuck just shrugs.
“Go sit at the picnic table and be quiet.” Taeyong walks over to see all the other boys acting like they don’t know what’s happening. Donghyuck was the one actually burying Jisung, but no one tried stopping him. He turns to Renjun, Jeno, and Jaemin. “Why didn’t you guys stop him from doing this? You all know it’s not okay.”
“They did it first!” Renjun points to Hendery and Lucas standing awkwardly in the sandbox.
“You two, move over.” They step aside to reveal Yangyang, also buried in the sand. “Ten, Kun, Johnny!”
The other dads walk over and have to try and stop themselves from laughing. It’s kind of funny, but they do know it’s not nice. It’s time to be dads.
Ten and Taeyong pull Yangyang and Jisung out of the sand while Kun and Johnny scold their own kids.
“Dinner is ready, but you all are not off the hook for this.” Johnny gives the ‘mad dad’ look to all the boys as they walk over to join Donghyuck at the picnic table.
“Daddy, I’m icky.” Jisung keeps trying to brush all the sand off himself, but it’s not working.
“Baby, I’m sorry. I think I have extra clothes in the car. Come on.” Taeyong takes Jisung inside.
When they’re back from cleaning off Jisung, he runs right back over to the other kids to start eating. Taeyong shakes his head as he rejoins Johnny, Ten, and Kun.
“I can’t believe them sometimes.” Taeyong is exhausted.
“They’re kids, Taeyong.”
“I know, I just want them to grow up to be good people.”
“They will. You’re a great dad. They were just having fun. Yangyang literally bit a kid at school today.” They all turn to Ten.
“Ten, that’s not good.”
“I know! I tried telling him it’s bad, but he just ignores me.”
Johnny laughs. “Okay, enough dad talk, let’s go back to Taeyong and his date.”
Taeyong doesn’t have much else to say about it. He doesn’t know much about Jaehyun, but that’s why they’re going out. He’s excited to have a night off. He doesn’t remember the last time he had a real night out. Johnny would sometimes ask him to go to a club, but Taeyong never felt comfortable leaving the kids. They’re his whole life.
“Taeyong, it’s time. You need to get out and have a little fun. We all know it’s hard being a single parent, but it’s even harder for you because it’s not just one or two kids, it’s six. If I were you, I’d get a babysitter every other night. I don’t know how you do it. You’re literally the best dad we’ve ever met. You deserve to go and have a good time with someone who isn’t under the age of 6.”
“What if he doesn’t like kids?”
“No one said you have to marry this guy. You don’t even have to tell him you have kids yet, it’s a first date.”
“Yeah, just go have a nice dinner and maybe get laid.”
“Ten, I’m not like you, I don’t put out on the first date.”
After dinner, they don’t stay too long. The boys play a couple games of hide and seek, but around 7:30, Taeyong gathers up his kids to head home. Their usual bedtime is 8, and he doesn’t want to mess with their sleep schedule.
When they get home, Taeyong sits them all on the couch. “Before you go to sleep, I want to talk to you boys. First, Hyuckie, can you apologize to Jisungie for burying him in the sand?”
“Okay. I also wanted to tell you that tomorrow night, Mr. Johnny is going to come stay here and watch you guys. Markie and Lucas will come, too. Daddy is going out to dinner with a new friend. I want you boys to be on your best behavior. You need to eat your dinner and go to bed at bedtime. If you’re good, I’ll think about getting you a special breakfast.” Taeyong isn’t sure if the boys even know what dating is, but he didn’t want to lie to them about where he’s going. “Now go run upstairs and start getting your pjs on and brush your teeth okay? Hyuckie, can you come sit with me?”
The five other boys run up the stairs while Donghyuck walks over to sit on Taeyong’s lap. “You were being a little bit of a troublemaker today. Is something going on buddy?”
Hyuck sniffles a little. “At Mr. Johnny’s, you didn’t play with us. You were only talking to the other daddies. And now you are leaving tomorrow.”
“Baby, I’m sorry for not playing with you at Mr. Johnny’s. You were having fun with your friends. And daddy has friends that he likes to have fun with, too. I promise I’ll play extra with you boys this weekend, okay?”
“I love you buddy. Let’s get you up to bed now.”
After making sure everyone brushes their teeth, and after tucking in each of the boys, Taeyong finally heads back downstairs. He pours himself a glass of wine and puts on a movie he always meant to go see in theaters.
He unexpectedly gets a text from Jaehyun.
Jae- Hey Taeyongie! I hope you had a good day. I made our reservations at the restaurant. I’ll send the address. I made it for 6pm but I can change it if a different time works better for you!
Tae- 6 is perfect Jaehyun. Thank you for inviting me out. I could use a nice night out.
Jae- Rough day?
Tae- Just felt like it lasted forever.
Jae- I get that. Anything I can help with?
Tae- I’m kicked back with a glass of wine, so I should be okay. How was your day?
Jae- Working at the library means most of my days are pretty uneventful. Meeting you was definitely the highlight of today.
Taeyong can’t believe he’s already falling for Jaehyun. They met this morning, and have only texted each other twice, yet he already feels comfortable talking to him. He doesn’t feel nervous; he’s excited to get to know Jaehyun.