It is said that the apparently innocuous act of a butterfly flapping its wings can cause an unseen chain reaction of events leading to a hurricane on the other side of the world, or even a mediocre Ashton Kutcher movie that forever taints everyone’s idea of an inherently cool Chaos Theory concept.
Many doubt the validity of the Butterfly Effect, but I have always seen it as a special Effect. If you think about it, there is at least some truth to it. Every choice, every action we take on a daily basis–we can’t even begin to fathom their impact on the courses of our lives. Often I wonder how different things would be if just one occurrence in my life were even slightly altered…
. . .
As always, it had been an eventful morning in the Twiniverse, as my son had decided he was just not that into napping, stubbornly insisting on playing instead, even though every gesture and interaction with his toys pissed him right off. Apparently he preferred the baby equivalent of cussing out his Sesame Street Singing Pop-Up Pals to giving in to the slumber he obviously required.
After 45 minutes of rocking, pacing, and possibly even a little begging on my part, I had finally gotten him to sleep, and as an added bonus, my daughter was especially cooperative (or exhausted–I’ll take either), drifting off right on schedule. Two naps. At the same time. As I’ve mentioned before, this Nap Overlap is a rare occurrence worthy of its own celebratory dance.
But meanwhile, unbeknownst to me or my napping progeny, a menace had descended upon our cul-de-sac, one that would severely alter the next hour of my life…forever.
. . .
People get in and out of automobiles every day, and thus, the closing of vehicle doors has become a routine act for drivers and passengers alike, one performed without even thinking about it. However, people execute this task with varying degrees of force. This, O Loyal Reader, is the hard-hitting issue that I want to soften today, and the reason I’ve gathered you all here.
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, it will still probably wake up my son and daughter. So if a car door slams loudly in my neck of the woods, I will consider slamming the neck of your body with said fallen tree.
Now, when I say “slam” I truly mean a slam. I realize that to properly close a vehicular entrance point, one must apply oomph, yielding that satisfying latch clack alerting the user of a successful close, and by no means am I complaining about a normal, human-style close. Such sound effects from fellow neighborhood dwellers are perfectly acceptable. The Twins’ rooms are equipped with white-noise Sound Machines (which I suspect to be from Miami), and their continuous, atmospheric whooshing does a stellar job at dampening the intensity of incoming sound waves such as sane-person door closing.
I don’t even mind my dog’s proficiency at notifying me that an area automobile has been shut (just in case I missed it) because I have become adept at silencing her so she does not wake the Dynamic Duo from their static state.
However, nothing could have prepared me for The Car Door Slam Heard ‘Round the Neighborhood.
. . .
Our house is situated in such a way that our living room is in the middle of the house, three rooms away from the wall facing the street. Yet, somehow, someone (or something) was able to uber-slam his/hers/its vehicle so loudly that it sounded like the Kool-Aid Man was trying to “Oh yeah” his fat glass ass through my wall, but had severely underestimated its density.
I literally jumped on impact, inspecting each room just to make sure I wasn’t crazy and nothing had fallen, rushing back into the living room every three seconds to shush my barking canine. But just as I realized this was, in fact, some psycho grizzly bear/man hybrid taking a sprinting start and throwing a double-pawed flying-kick at some poor, innocent vehicle, my exhausted son woke up in a livid inferno of streaming tears and tiny, kicking feet.
In a flash of faux-genius, I irrationally considered setting my son safely back in his crib, grabbing one of my ninja swords, and avenging his ravaged sleep pattern, but realized that whoever or whatever had created this disturbance was probably of superhuman persuasion (Vampire? X-Man? Decepticon?) and not worth messing with. After all, I’m a father now.
Picking up my son, I eased into the rocking chair and coaxed him back to sleep. For another 45 minutes.
. . .
So, as you can see, the closing of a car door is sometimes not just the closing of a car door. Every once in a while, when a grizzly bear/man hybrid pummels a Ford Galaxie with a shovel, it can cause a human monsoon devastating entire hours of a parent’s life–hours that a stay-at-home dad/Ph. D. student hybrid could have been spent figuring out that damned statistics problem he has been attempting for days, or burning one’s mouth on the scalding interior of a Hot Pocket while capitalizing on the first free moment to eat lunch, or even writing for a fine publication very much akin to the one you are reading.
My point, O Loyal Reader, is this: You can never truly know the implications of your seemingly small, insignificant actions. So next time you are entering or leaving a vehicle, please be aware of surrounding residences that could contain stay-at-home parents who are less sane than myself, and who very well could retaliate in straitjacket-inspiring fashion.
Unless, of course, you are prepared to be Rocked Like a Hurricane.
You may also enjoy:
If not, that’s fine. Just go easy on that car door on your way out.
This past week was utterly exhausting. My wife and I have gotten into what we think to be a phenomenal rhythm given the fact that we’re simultaneously raising twice the children most do, but it was derailed by several unavoidable circumstances, and we have literally spent every scarce free moment sleeping. Among these disturbances in The Force were: childcare conflicts, altered work schedules (including me taking 2.5 days off work for a preseason exhibition of the stay-at-home fathering bidness), a visit from the Teething Fairy, and a raging deathmatch with an uncommon—possibly zombified—housefly.
So please forgive me, O Loyal Reader, for neglecting you. I know our relationship is still new and exciting, and you may even still feel those first-date jitters as you savor this page. Fear not, for as a result of the past half-fortnight, multiple twincidents are in gestation. I’ve just really gotten into this Rip Van Winkle impression. (I have the week-long beard to prove it.) In fact, in attempting to report these late-breaking developments, I even found myself a victim of the trite, unrealistic, melodramatic Hollywood cliché of literally falling asleep at my keyboard.
While mind-blowing twincidents exploring the aforementioned topics are forthcoming, in the spirit of the week, I thought I’d offer a portrait of its haze—my Sunday afternoon nap.
I’ve never been a napper, or even a sleeper for that matter. While I recognize that as a human I need sleep, I’d prefer not to. There are so many amazing things to experience in the world, and to me, sleep has always felt so…idle. My parents could tell you that even when I was a strapping young whippersnapper, they’d find me with my light on at 3 a.m. (even—*GASP*—on a school night!), reading such literary classics as the Choose Your Own Adventure Series and The Uncanny X-Men. “I wasn’t tired,” I’d say. Even with the arrival of the Twins and occasional sleepless nights, my body rarely needs a break aside from normal nighttime sleep.
This means that when I do decide I need a nap, you’d better let me. My wife knows this, and heeds this commandment religiously. This afternoon, however, there was some red tape involved in securing said nap.
I had just returned from the grocery store, finished putting our bounty away, and collapsed onto the couch. “So I think I do want to take that nap.”
She had noticed my fatigue earlier in the day and gently suggested that my less-than-chipper demeanor might necessitate a siesta. I had decided that since we had no food, I’d rather get groceries done first because I’m even more fun when I’m hungry. “I feel myself starting to get annoyed about stupid things. Like, at the store, I almost flipped out when the lady in front of me in the dairy aisle couldn’t figure out which yogurt defined her as a person.”
My wife, who was holding my son, smiled sweetly, sensing the impending doom if I stayed awake. “Well, she (our daughter) is down for a nap in our room, so I don’t think you should go in there.” This is because I am a champion snorer. I was even up for a Grammy in the “Snoring—Short Form” category last year. My snoring would undoubtedly wake my daughter who, unfortunately, has inherited her father’s sleeping habits. Her thirst for stimulation makes any interruptions in her sleep particularly traumatic—for us, not her.
Straightening up my wriggling son, his frog legs kicking spastically, she continued. “He just woke up a half hour ago, so it probably won’t be quiet out here. You can crash on the couch out here if you want, but I can’t promise he won’t scream his head off.” My son is proficient at this, especially in extremely short, unexpected bursts. There’s already Grammy buzz for when he’s eligible. He’s his father’s son.
“I guess I could try,” I replied, really attempting to convince myself it would work.
“We need another bed,” she mused, looking around the room, as if hoping for one to appear, like in a terrible, low-budget mattress commercial.
“What about the air mattress?”
“Where would we put it?”
“Maybe in the Cluster Room.” The Cluster Room is our only spare room, which has become more of a closet. Home to our towering bookshelves, furniture dethroned by baby paraphernalia, and a Rock Band drum controller, it’s quite the clusterf**k. (Hence the name.)
“No,” I realized. “The pump would wake her up anyway. Maybe I could take the crib in the kids’ room,” I snarked.
She chuckled. “Or their floor.”
“Can you think of a better idea?”
“Not really,” I sighed.
With that, I took the best available pillow, a five-dollar gem we let guests sleep on and have more recently been placing on the floor under our Exersaucer and jumper as a booster for our kids’ dangling feet so they can actually use them. I scoured it for poopy-diaper-blowout debris, and turned to my wife. “So are you coming?”
“Well, aren’t you gonna swaddle me and sing me a song?”
“Go to sleep.”
“I’m turning the monitor on. If you don’t hear me, just make sure I’m not suffocating under the blanket.”
When I opened the door, I heard the kids’ Sound Machine (we have been unable to confirm whether or not it is from Miami) still hissing white noise from my son’s last nap, and switched it to the “Womb” setting. Just for funsies.
Emptying my pockets, I camped out on the floor, and then decided, of course, to outline the whole occurrence for this very blog entry on my phone before actually attempting sleep. Even when I’m beat, I fight it.
As I finally closed my eyes, the Sunday-afternoon dread flooded in. I realized that I had still not figured out what the hell I’d be teaching all week; that the stack of neglected grading on my desk would be growing another story if I didn’t tackle it soon; that I have extra work projects to which I probably shouldn’t have committed waiting for me, and thus little desire to do them.
But then I realized that even if I wanted to put a dent in any of this, I couldn’t handle any of it as exhausted as I was. So sleep would have to come first. Plus, I remembered that I am trained in improvisational comedy, reaffirming my self-awesomeness at making stuff up as I go–at finishing sentences I’ve started without knowing how they’ll end. And that’s when I drifted off…
Two glorious hours later, I woke up with a stiff neck to the sound of my daughter throwing a hissy.