It seems to me that we're in a complete re-write of the original "Elly goes to Vancouver" plotline; this tells me that I'm right to suspect that John will be chastised by Mike for not doing housework
in a pointlessly labor-intensive and counter-productive fashionproperly today. This will shift John's punchline about someone working for Elly on the side from Jean to Mike.
Well.....maybe NOT complete. That's because it's a modified version of the old-run aprilp_katje mentioned.
Panel 1: It starts with John walking the kids down the front hall of the Pattermanse. He tells them not to worry, explains to them Elly will only be gone a few days and that everything will be okay. (In the original, they simply said good-bye to the taxi driving Elly to the airport. Since Lynn made a big production of how sad Mike and Liz were to see Mommy leave, she couldn't have this so she replaced it.)
Panel 2: He then sits himself down with the Valley Voice; the reason he thinks he can sit down with the paper is that while he does so, they can amuse themselves. This belief is contradicted by their standing very still and staring at him.
Panel 3: He takes note of his children staring at him because they expect him to tell them what to do.
Panel 4: As Lizzie clings to his leg like a frakking barnacle, he asks if it's foolish for hi to expect some time to himself.
Summary: We are clearly meant to regard John as a lazy incompetent who's too stupid and selfish to spend time with his kids. It's too bad that Lynn sabotaged her attempt to demean Rod by showing us Elly's valiant battles to destroy any sort of personal initiative in her children. They can't amuse themselves because they don't know how. Elly saw to that.