It’s a truly tiresome endeavour keeping up with your various five seconds of interests. Between running away from you trying to stick the electric toothbrush down the back of my pants (thanks, Mom, for making that a thing), and me running after you while you’re making a poo in your underpants, it’s like running a marathon on a hangover. No wonder your mother has the apocalypse in her eyes when I tell her she looks a little tired.
Thank god for our daily reprieve. Just after noon I eagerly start scrutinising you in anticipation of those tell-tale signs that you are ready to take an afternoon nap.
First, you rub your eyes. Then, you yawn. Wait for it…wait for it… Boom! You suddenly announce that you are tired and you want to drink your milk. Oh sweet Jesus, Hallelujah!
The fatigue that accompanies cleaning up flour from the floor for the millionth time and pulling toys out of the toilet suddenly disappears as I excitedly sprint to get everything ready for The Nap. What should be a quick, 30-second routine, rapidly deteriorates into the following:
12:02 – Warm up the bottle of milk.
12:03 – Search for toddler’s special pillow.
12:05 – Overheat the bottle while searching for the pillow.
12:06 – Calm toddler down because he has seen the bottle and now demands his pillow.
12:10 – Still can’t find the pillow. Toddler has now decided that he doesn’t want to go to sleep and instead wants to watch Chicken Run again.
12:15 – Take a moment to yourself and vow never to have kids again.
12:16 – Wrestle with toddler to get him into diapers.
12:17 -Try and reason with toddler who now firmly believes he is a big boy who doesn’t need diapers.
12:20 – Find special pillow stuffed down the side of the bed while wrestling with unreasonable toddler.
12:22 – Remove screwdriver, money and torn book page that toddler has been hiding beneath the duvet.
12:25 – Give toddler hugs and kisses and close curtains to make it as dark as possible.
Twenty minutes later, I close the door and collapse on the bed. Aaaahhh! Peace at last. Beautiful, silent peace. For the next two hours I don’t have to shout at you for pulling the dog’s ears, I don’t have to explain what snails are, I don’t have to convince you that the television is broken and I don’t have to run around with a hand full of tissues wiping snot off everything including your nose.
The best thing about you taking a nap is the fact that I can take one too. I wait until I’m sure you’re asleep and start reading my book. Slowly gravity starts tugging on my eyelids…
And then you start singing. At first I convince myself that you’re just settling down with an introspective, gentle rendition of Baa Baa Black Sheep. But the singing gets louder and louder. (Really?) I can hear you playing with some of your toys. (Are you serious?) Now there is a full scale rearrangement of your room going on. (I can’t fucking believe it.)
I barge in full of fire and brimstone, but you instantaneously defuse me with your toothy grin.
“I’m tired,” you tell me.
You’ve got to be kidding me.
Initiate Plan B. I get in bed with you and snuggle up close beneath the duvet. You give a content sigh. You close your eyes. You start snoring…
…before jumping up and shouting: “Wakey, wakey, Pappa!”
If I open my eyes now, all is lost. I squeeze them shut and try my best not to laugh as you put your eye right below my nostrils to inspect them for spiders. I purse my lips tight as you try to wiggle your fingers past my teeth while proudly declaring how amusing you are.
“Funny! I’m funny!”
Of course the only thing funnier than a toddler trying to spelunk his way up your nose is a toddler trying to kick you in the face. Having my nose repeatedly pounded by a tiny foot is hilarious.
Finally, I can’t take it anymore. I yell at you to shut the fuck up and go to sleep, except without the profanity and to be honest it’s more of a stern whisper than a shout.
A miracle happens and you actually listen to me. You tuck your pillow in close to your chin and close your eyes and just like that, 30 seconds later, gentle little snores fill the silence. For an atheist I find myself praying a lot these days and saying thank you.
Then my pants start to vibrate. Shit! It is followed by the shrill sound of my phone ringing. No! No! NO! Do I answer it? I don’t recognise the number on the phone, but this could be important. It could be the hospital phoning to say that you’re mother has been in an accident or the National Lottery phoning to congratulate me on winning a disgustingly huge amount of money.
It is neither. A computer generated voice on the other end of the line tries to sell me something. I will never know what it was, because I’m too busy telling it to burn in hell. It is extremely unsatisfying hanging up on a computer.
At this point you’re upset, I’m upset. The world is teetering on collapse, but I manage to calm you down. I double check that my phone is now on silent…
Good. Everyone can breathe again. Soon, we both start snoozing.
Then the doorbell rings. The dogs go ballistic. And I only feel a little bit sorry for the person on the other side of the door as I open it frothing at the mouth. They have the wrong house. I want to use very blunt objects to do very nasty things to this person. Instead, I point further down the road. Despite the racket you stay asleep. I send up more prayers.
I try, but I can’t get back to sleep. Instead, I drink coffee strong enough to double up as jet fuel and wait for you to wake up.
Three hours later, I’m still waiting. I’ve cleaned up your morning mess, or at least reallocated it to nooks, crannies and cupboards to at least create the illusion that everything is okay by the time your mother comes home. By now the coffee has worn off. The couch is suddenly feeling extra comfy. I’m tired. My eyes start drooping. And then, as if on cue, a sleepy shout comes from your room…
P.S. I would like to note that this was written after a rare occasion where you actually let me in the room while trying to fall asleep. Usually, you shout at me to GO AWAY and then scream for your mother. I will cherish our rare, albeit interrupted, snuggle forever.