Minutes of Mayhem

My average day is 99% excitement free, but I wish that pesky 1% didn’t so often happen all at once. I imagine that this a pretty common feeling amongst parents, but that might be wishful thinking. An overwhelming majority of such exciting conjunctions involve my daughter; I want to believe that she isn’t unique in this regard.

Let me share some representative examples.

Sudden Switches

I was sitting on the couch one day, working on one of my sundry writing projects, when my laptop turned itself off. It didn’t give me any warning, didn’t follow the usual steps; it just suddenly stopped, like a lightbulb on a switch. I specifically don’t attach my computer to any switches for exactly that reason, too. Its battery even had full charge. This upset me.

Then I looked up at my daughter, who was peacefully playing with her blocks. She’s nearly never peaceful, so I counted this as a blessing. It was almost her naptime; she had started slouching in what I call the “imminent naptime droop.” Then she toppled over, suddenly sound asleep, also a bit like a lightbulb on a switch. I specifically don’t attach my daughter to any switches either, although mostly for legal and ethical reasons. (I admit that sometimes I think a switch might be helpful.) This shocked me a bit.

I extricated myself from the couch and rushed to her side. Then every phone in the house rang simultaneously, like evil loud monsters on a switch. I specifically don’t… Oh, you get the idea. I picked up my sleeping daughter, satisfied myself that she had merely succumbed to toddler exhaustion, then answered the phone call that seemed most important: the one from my wife.

The rest kept ringing in the background, which was about as soothing as you might imagine. Thus, I didn’t use any of the standard greetings for the call I answered. I employed the less conventional “You’ve got to be kidding me!”

The Midnight Shindig

One night I had trouble sleeping, so I was sitting in bed watching reruns on television in order to prevent my mind from tilting at whatever philosophical windmills might arise if I left it to its own devices. Everything was fine until I needed to adjourn to the restroom. No sooner did my leaving become problematic than my daughter started to cry.

She has two sorts of night-time cry: the generally preferable “I’ve had a bad dream, but if you don’t make any noise and thus don’t alert me to the possibility of cuddles, I’ll go back to sleep on my own” cry, and the “How dare you leave me in the terrible place, all alone and helpless” cry, which usually signals a ruined evening for everyone. Naturally, the first tends to blossom into the second with minimal provocation.

From the restroom I heard the first type of cry, so I froze like a small woodland creature trying to avoid the notice of a menacing nearby predator, or the way I usually do when I hear my daughter cry at night. Then I heard loud rumble of static, roughly on par with someone idling a diesel engine in our living room. Apparently my wife had rolled onto the television remote, turning the channel to static and cranking the volume up at the same time.

My daughter progressed to cry number two, my wife started to mumble incoherent questions, and I did not get rest in any room for a long while.

The Usual Kitchen Story

I was trying to surprise my wife by cooking a special dinner for her. (Those words alone ought to seem foreboding.) As is typical in the meals I cook, pasta featured heavily, so I had a large pot of it boiling on the stovetop. Unfortunately, I always time it poorly. Specifically, my noodles started to boil over while my hands were covered in raw chicken juices and the disastrously clumpy breading I had made for said chicken.

I muttered my ever-ignored refrain about planning better next time, then went to the sink to rinse one hand. I couldn’t rinse both because I had cluttered the counter too much; I didn’t have room to set down the half-breaded chicken breast I was holding.

Thus I found myself at my kitchen sink with slippery raw chicken in one hand and a giant heavy pot of boiling water and noodles in the other. I must have looked interesting, because my daughter toddled over to investigate. Specifically, she pushed herself between my legs, knocking me off balance, and tried to pull herself up to the sink so she could see what I was holding.

Then she found the knife I had been using to cut the chicken.

Everyone lived, but I can’t say that I didn’t get chicken juices and clumpy breading on my daughter’s cute outfit.

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