Babies are portable.
Stick them in a stroller, strap them to your chest, graft them to your stomach Kuato-style and you’re all set. Take them with you while you do some grocery shopping or grab some lunch or pound a few beers; you’ll barely even notice the kid is there! So much so that back when I used one of those strap-on things (not what it sounds like!), I often had to stop and make sure my son was breathing!
Contrary to almost everything you hear, babies are actually fairly convenient. You might even go so far as to call them “low maintenance.” And once you’ve had a glimpse of the future, you definitely will.
Especially when you’re stuck in toddler jail.
Toddlers are different. They have minds of their own – insane minds. And not only are they mobile, they’re fast as hell.
A few weeks ago I wrote about the nightmare that was taking my toddler son along to a friend’s housewarming party. It was a foolish decision, as my post detailed, but one that I will surely make again. BECAUSE MY KID DOESN’T OWN ME. I own him. At least until I get a good offer.
Kids my son’s age are uncontrollable hurricanes of chaos, especially when out in public. But hurricanes need rest too, which means naps. Which sounds great, right? “Hooray! A break!” But somehow a toddler at rest can be almost as problematic as a toddler in motion. I call it Toddler Jail. (Except we’re the prisoners.)
When he was still a baby, my son napped twice a day: for 60-90 mins around 10am and then again for another hour around 3. It was wonderful – 11 to 3 is a timeframe you can work with; you can get things done in the middle of the day and still get home close enough to 5 to start drinking without feeling weird about it. But as he’s gotten older, things have flipped. He lost the double nap and now sleeps just once during the day, right smack in the 11-3 sweet spot.
Your day is shredded.
It’s tough to prep both a kid and yourself by 11am and still have time to do anything worthwhile. Then, post-nap, there’s little time left in the day. Over the past three months, there’s hardly been a weekend when we’ve been able to get outside before two, and by then the bars are starting to welcome the nighttime crowd. The nighttime crowd don’t truck with no babies. So no sooner are we out of the house than we’re back in it.
From the start of this whole parenting experiment, my wife and I decided we weren’t going to let our kid control our lives, and, for the most part we don’t. But we have to pick our battles, and we learned pretty quickly that while we didn’t like the idea of being tethered to a toddler’s nap schedule, we also don’t like watching our son transform from a cuddly, well-rested Mogwai into a psychopathic, uncontrollable, sleep-deprived Gremlin.
Nothing does a child wrong more than missing a much-needed nap; they CANNOT be taken for granted.
So life with a toddler becomes a balancing act between getting out of the house to keep your own sanity and staying in the house to keep you from murdering your child. Because weathering the consequences that come with taking little Mr. Disembodied Id out in public is no easy task; we’ve all been in a store and witnessed a parent losing control of a kid and it’s not a happy sight. Especially if said parent seems content to ignore the raging child in order to complete a sandwich, or an errand, or a beer. Or a noose.
Once you’ve had to endure the crippling cabin fever that comes with shielding society from the quicksilver moods of a developing human being, it’s obvious that a rambunctious child having an outburst is a small price to pay for the ability to leave your home and do something, ANYTHING, in the presence of adults. Even if those adults hate you and your terrible parenting with the heat of a thousand suns.
Such is the struggle of people like me. People with children who are resolved to fight against the suffocating lifestyle we’re meant to subscribe to merely because we decided to procreate.
I won’t ruin my life merely out of deference to yours. I REFUSE TO BE CAGED!
(But seriously, I’ll take him outside if it’s getting to be too much.)
(Unless we’re on an airplane because FUCK YOU WE GET TO TRAVEL TOO!!!!!!!!)