Over the top of my iPhone, I sort of witnessed our three-year-old son Evan bowling into his one-year-old brother Zack, knocking him to the floor.
“It’s okay Zack,” Evan said before anyone could yell at him, picking Zack back up to a crawling position. Zack continued motoring along as if nothing had happened, like a turtle who’d been flipped back onto his feet.
I flicked past another few Facebook updates, looking at pictures of children begat by people I hadn’t seen in real life since high school and probably would never see again. Somehow, at that moment, this was more interesting than looking at my own kids, who were trolling around the toy room (formerly known as the living room) looking for things to crack their heads upon.
I have the luxury of being able to half-watch our children in that room because every inch of it is covered in so much padding that you could play dodgeball with uninsured Faberge eggs in there. We’ve also installed a baby gate that most adults can’t figure out how to operate, leading our more agile guests to decide it’s easier to hurdle their way out.
When you’re child-proofing a room, you have to think, “This coffee table looks harmless enough, but what happens when you smash your face into it?”
Because that is what your children will do, methodically going around the room, smashing their heads into things until they find something hard or sharp enough to require an emergency room visit, which is the only way to escape from the toy room.
Even if they can’t possibly hurt themselves without finding inventive ways to collide into each other, it’s really not cool to ignore your kids while you’re fiddling around on your gadget of the moment. You need to give your kids lots of attention, because if you don’t, while you’re looking the other way, in the blink of an eye, they’ll stomp right on your crotch. Oh, and also they grow up so fast. But mostly the crotch-stomping thing. Children have no regard for crotches as stomp-free zones. When you’re on the floor with them, your crotch is just one more obstacle between them and their Hess trucks.
These days, though, it can be hard to muster the energy to get down on the floor and crawl after them. Zack is still not sleeping through the night, and the dog has taken up snoring at the foot of our bed. A good night’s sleep, like vacuuming and eating dinner sitting down, is something that only happens in other people’s houses.
When you have one kid, you can nap when they nap. With two kids, you’re trapped by this terrible Venn diagram, and you can only nap in the tiny little sliver where the two circles of your kids’ naps intersect, which is when the mail truck will come and your dog will attack the windows.
I yawned and rubbed my eyes, sitting on the floor, flicking past another seven Facebook updates from acquaintances who wanted me to know how far they jogged that morning. “Do everyone else’s friends jog this much?” I thought as Zack continued across the carpet, searching in vain for a good, hard object to knock his head against.
Just then, Evan’s face popped up over my phone.
“Daddy, Zack fell down on the floor. I helped him up,” he said, neglecting to mention why Zack fell down.
“Wow, you sound like a hero in that story,” I said.
“Yeah,” Evan replied.
Then he disappeared again. In a moment, he popped back up and handed me a little helmet that had fallen off one of his action figures.
“Choking hazard,” he said. Good thing somebody’s paying attention in there.
Then, as I glanced back at the screen, Evan ran over to his wooden trains, stomping on my crotch en route.
You can multitask with Mike Todd at firstname.lastname@example.org.