When I started to write this, it was a Tuesday. It is now 2:15 p.m. on a Friday. And by the time I get to the end of this piece, it could be the end of 2016, for all I know.
That’s because for the past three days, every time I have tried to squeeze in just five minutes of writing time, my efforts have been thwarted by what has been a never-ending series of never-ending demands by my five-and-seven-year-old daughters. Anyone who has had kids isn’t going to be surprised by this because kids are awful at keeping you from doing anything that doesn’t directly involve them and things like their never-ending need for one more cup of juice.
It’s like trying to drive down a neighborhood street and hitting a speed bump in front of every other house. Just when you get some momentum going, you have to slam on the brakes or else you might blow out your tires. But when you do that, you end up jerking your neck hard enough for a whiplash.
I think the most-common of the speed bumps my daughters create involve one of the most-common life-sustaining needs of small kids across Western, civilized countries who really have no problems to complain about: snacks. The way my kids badger me for snacks on a near-constant basis, I’m pretty certain that snacks need to be their own, legally mandated food group alongside staples such as meats, dairy and breads.
The snack demands begin within seconds of me picking my girls up at school. And, often, when they already have a snack in their hands.
Maddo [Holding a container of Goldfish in her hands]: Daddy? When we get home, can I have a snack?
Me: Sweetie, you already have a snack going there.
Maddo: Yes, but…This is just my school snack. I need a new snack before dinner because I AM SO HUNGRY!
It should be noted that 99.7% of the time she comes home with a nearly full lunch box because she claims she doesn’t have time to eat everything. She does, however, have time to practice cartwheels and bear hug her classmates like she’s trying out for the Seattle Seahawks linebacker corps.
And it just grows form there. The snack demands range from everywhere from wanting Chee-tos to begging for Doritos. Now, I am as big a fan of food in chip-like form as anyone. But, even I feel like I have to draw the line once in a while and force a piece a fruit upon my kids. This is usually greeted how you might expect…
Me: You want a snack? You can have a banana.
Maddo: But, DADDDDDYYYY! I want something that has a crunch to it. PLEASE! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE! [Repeats approximately 8 million times.]
Little Sis: Yeah, something CRUNCHY, PLEASEPLEASEPLEASEPLEASEPLEASE! [Repeats another approximately 8 million times].
Me [Hurls Costco-sized variety box of Frit-Lay Chips across the kitchen]: OK, FINE…HELP YOURSELF! [Swears repeatedly under own breath].
And, of course, all of this goes on just as we are coming in the door, I am carrying their backpacks and jackets [Because they lose the use of their arms when it comes to bringing in their own stuff from my truck] and I am trying to keep from tripping over our pet cats while also turning on the oven to start prepping for dinner.
The point is that my kids always find a way to keep me from doing what I want, and need to to get done in a timely manner. Some of those things [Watching football. Writing blog posts] are completely for myself. But many, many more of those things [Making dinner. Folding laundry.] are related to helping keep our house running smoothly so that it doesn’t end up looking like a mid-60s flophouse for the Grateful Dead and other acid-drenched hippies.
And regardless of the category, the speed bumps that my kids put in my path cause those things, inevitably, to take at least three times as long as they should to get done as they would if I and my wife were left completely to our own devices. And the speed bump that is the demand for snacks is but one on my daily highway of life.
Since I started writing this story, my girls have interrupted me at least 75,000 times to do something that was, in their minds, inherently critical to their immediate survival at that particular moment. The need for snacks may be the most-common of my daughters’ demands, but it is far from the only one. I can’t remember every one of the speed bumps these girls have thrown at me, but the things that I have been stopped in my tracks to handle have included:
—Putting socks on
—Looking for a purse that was a birthday gift
—Digging through a mess of bathtub toys so that Maddo could find some containers for cat food and water [Yeah, it really was that weird].
—Needing a drink [Them, not me. Although, the thought of and Irish Coffee sounded perfect at the time.]
—Finding something. And by that, I mean finding anything
—Drawing a picture
—Telling me the date on a dime
—Getting an iPad
I honestly don’t know how I get anything at all done around my house when I constantly have to drop everything and do something like sharpen some colored pencils so my five-year-old can draw her zillionth picture of a fairy.
Amazingly, with all of those interruptions, it took me just four-and-a-half days to finish this. If Evel Kneivel hit as many speed bumps as I do during the day, he would have never made a single one of his motorcycle jumps.
Evel crashed a lot, yet he always got back on his bike because he knew what his fans wanted to see. Right now, I guess my girls need me to be on my bike, so to speak, because they aren’t quite ready to ride on their own. So, even with all the bumps in the road that they create, I’ll keep on pedaling for them, no matter how long the ride may take.