Tonawanda News

September 24, 2012

A little -- but not too much -- peace and quiet is welcome

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The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — So as I was watching some History Channel show at home the other day, my mind began to wander.

I’m not even sure what I was thinking about now that I recall the event, but I’m pretty sure a good 15 minutes passed before I was roused from my mental slumber.

I then made my way to the fridge, grabbed refreshments and brought them into the living room. Setting the drink between my legs, I put on an X-Men movie and ate an entire snack bag of Baked Doritos myself. And that’s about when the thought struck me.

“Self,” I said. “You should not be able to hear me right now. It’s been months — maybe years — since you heard me on a weekday morning. And — wait, what’s this? The bag is more than half-full!”

Such began my adjustment to life with both my children in school. Penny and Rigby are now a few weeks into school (Rigby goes twice a week, Penny every day). So on those two — for the first time since Penny was born more than five years ago — the house is childless. Like, all day, pretty much.

I watch what I want, eat what I want (and eat the entire thing, if I so choose) and once again possess the capacity to hear myself think. Mommy and I even went to the library by ourselves the other day — and none of the books we looked at had colorful illustrations.

I walked around the downstairs of our house in my underwear. The dog got the prime real estate on my lap — without Rigby pulling her ears or Penny trying to jump on her. I went to a restaurant without a playhouse.

Yeah, for two days a week, Paul — not Daddy — gets to come back out. And, man, does he enjoy the naps he’s getting these days. Everyone knows how much having kids wears you out, but even parents don’t fully realize just how much until they don’t have to be in caretaker mode for a stretch of time.

I don’t remember many aspects of life without my kids, to be quite honest. But I know I thought I was so crunched for time, I’d never get things done and I had no time to rest.

If I had a flux capacitor, I’d go back to 2001 and risk collapsing the space-time continuum by smacking Past Me in the face and then laughing hysterically at his thought.

Kids consume every minute of your life — literally. Even when you sleep, they often usurp any slumber space you might have on the bed, forcing you to wake up with daily aches in the neck and a shoulder that feels perpetually asleep.

Children demand your everything. And you, of course, are happy to give it.

But when you don’t have to do so, at least for a few hours ... well, that’s a strange feeling.

After some television time and a snack, I was at a loss for what to do next.

Should I play a video game? Well, I shouldn’t, seeing as there’s that pile of the kids’ laundry in the basement still to fold.

Go to the gym? Maybe for a bit, but you can get a lot of writing done with a quiet house.

Call up a friend for lunch? I dunno. I mean, there’s a lot of cleaning left to do.

Hmm. It appears I am unable to go back in time. Even with the sort of freedom I haven’t had in half a decade, I am unable to revert to my pre-fatherhood lifestyle. 

Does this mean ...

(Gulp).

Yep. I am a full-fledged, card-carrying adult.

This does have its advantages (read: I can spoil my dinner any time I please). But those care-free days have expired, and I literally have been unable to return to them even with the chance to do so.

So housework consumed the rest of the afternoon. As I was driving to pick Rigby up from school, my suddenly-hyperactive brain was flying with thought after thought: “Self, would you want life to be like this, kid-free, for good if you could? Would you want the ability to do anything you wanted, at any time? Would you trade this for those care-free nights out at the bar with friends and afternoons spent on the couch in front of the television, or driving to another random destination?”

I walked to the door of Rigby’s class. He turned and saw me. He got the biggest grin on his face I’ve ever seen, laughed and ran toward me with his arms open. He jumped into me, hugged me, and yelled “Daddy!” He then spent five minutes rattling off the contents of his day so quickly that his mouth was unable to enunciate the words his mind wanted to share with me. But I got enough of the message to be enthralled.

“Self,” I said to my brain. “None of that would make me complete, like I am right now. So thanks, but I’ll pass. Talk to you next school day.”

Contact Paul Lane at

pjlnews@ymail.com.