Having kids is a wonderful thing, but it’s exhausting. Also, the grass is green and the sky is blue.
The power drain of childcare, though, is hard to fully appreciate until you’ve done it yourself. Sitcoms aren’t a good substitute.
Beyond the physical demands, constantly being alert mentally wears you down. You are always having to make sure no one jumps off the second story or crams something into an electric socket.
And the questions… so many questions. I used to hear about parents getting frustrated by kids asking questions to which they didn’t know the answer, but never understood their grief until now.
“What’s the problem?” I thought, “Just turn it into an opportunity to find information! Say ‘let’s find out’ and take your kids to the internet to look up, I don’t know, the depth of the Amazon. Everything is on Wikipedia now.”
But there are no resources available for many of these questions. The other day, for example, my daughter asked me why I never put rocket ship stickers on my boobies.
She was completely serious. She loves stickers, thinks rocket ships are cool, and thinks boobies make the perfect place to stick some. Why wouldn’t I avail myself of that opportunity?
How do you answer something like that? it’s a legitimate question though, apparently, because everyone who heard about it also wanted to know.
So after a long day of hyper vigilance and baffling queries, I tend to take some “me” time late at night. Being a natural insomniac, I not only keep going well into the tiny hours of the morning, but also enjoy the solitude. There is no one but me and my mystery novel, or my writing. I sip a soothing cup of tea while one of my kitties sidles up to me in the dim light as I work quietly to fill a small corner of the internet with floating ideas.
The house is calm and dark. It’s the Magic Hour. The world is silent… until it isn’t.
The other night, I was lost in a creative trance when I heard a faint voice in the background. I stopped to listen. Was it the kids?
The voice spoke again. An adult voice. My ears sharpened their focus.
A wave of goosebumps tickled my forearms. Did I just imagine that?
Felt my heart slapping my chest. What the hell is that? Is someone at the door? It’s coming from the front door. I’m wearing yoga pants, so I could run, but is there anything I could use as weapon? Why is someone talking through the windows at 2 in the morning?
I swear I just heard a quiet ringing. “Hello?”
A woman’s voice. Not unfriendly, but possibly deranged. I’m going to go wake up my husband…
Soundlessly leaving the living room to creep up the stairs, I suddenly saw it: the children’s toy telephone. You press a button and it rings and says “Hello?”
I felt much better. Kind of.
With children’s toys, there is a very fine line between adorable and horror flick. The girl’s toy telephone keeps ringing and talking, but no one is touching it. It’s totally creeping me out. All I need is a clown picture on the wall with a soft music box soundtrack and I’ll be running straight out of the house.
Maybe a little doll that says “Mamma” while staring me dead in the eyes…
Scrape together all the monsters you want, but it can’t beat a carousel slowly revolving to slightly off-key music. I’ve been afraid of children’s toys since I was an actual child. I still remember jumping in horror, during my toddler years, to a small demonic box with a deranged clown inside it.
My parents would chase me with this brightly-colored cube, slowly turning its satanic handle until the angry clown would explode from inside it, his arms stretched wide in a clear attempt to snatch me into his twisted parallel dimension. Foreboding, uneven, music signaled the imminent attack.
Toddler imaginations being what they are, I think my parents were actually trying to show me that a Jack-in-the-Box can’t hurt me. They were probably sitting quietly while turning the handle and reassuring me that it’s just a doll with a jumping spring, but in my tortured mind, they were menacing me with an insane sorcerer clown, bent on imprisoning me in his twisted lair.
(To this day, I’m not fond of Jack-in-the-Box commercials. Sure, he looks like a clown executive, but you know he’s not right in the head. Just look at his deranged posse of Harley Quinns, eating sandwiches so inappropriately.)
Locating the source of whispered Hello’s, however, was reassuring. I remembered something about appliances beeping and making noise when the batteries are low. At least that’s what fire-detectors do. Not sure how that happens, but the kids’ telephone must be running low on juice. Mystery solved. Whew.
I yanked the batteries out of the phone, crept back into the living room, and sat down on the couch. I picked up my laptop, with a relieved sigh, and resumed writing in the middle of the night. Everything was quiet.
Until it wasn’t.
I heard a note. A sound.
Another note. A gentle chime.
My heart started pounding. I clutched a lap blanket around me tightly, as though it would make me ghost-proof, and stomped back into the front room. Frodo, my small black cat, was tapping his paw on a toy piano. He looked at me, and perhaps sensing the psychic tension, bolted from the room.
Was he trying to evolve? Had he watched the children manipulate these buttons all day and wanted to try out basic machinery after everyone went to bed? Or was he playing a trick on me, somehow aware of human fears about animated children’s toys in the middle of the night?
I felt a little bad for interfering with his cat experiments. but he really scared the crap out of me. Maybe next time he should rig up a kitty clown picture or drag some dolls around the room.