“Inhale. Now exhale. Now exhale again. Wait, no, I mean inhale,” the yoga teacher was probably saying, as my wife Kara sat in the lotus position, her forefingers and thumbs gently touching, a feeling of complete peace and calm spreading across the room.
“AAAAAAAAAAA!!!!” our son Zack screamed, back home, as he fell headfirst off the couch, landing briefly in a perfect headstand, then flipping forward onto his back, staring up at the ceiling. He’d just invented his own yoga pose, the upward-facing screaming child.
“Zack fell out of the plane!” his older brother Evan yelled from his pilot’s seat on the next cushion.
“Feel the universe in your thighbone as you push your buttocks toward Mercury,” the instructor was probably saying, as Kara’s stress melted away through her yoga mat.
“I FELL! I FELL!” Zack screamed.
“I’m gonna have to call you guys back,” I told my mom and dad, who were watching their grandsons through my phone. FaceTime is a great tool for keeping people connected, and also for allowing them to bear witness to your failures as a parent.
I had the kids on my own because Kara recently joined a gym to start taking yoga classes again, an exercise of parental freedom that would have been unthinkable until very recently. At five and nearly three, the boys are finally old enough that watching them without assistance is pretty easy, as long as you’re comfortable with a certain amount of furniture-based acrobatics.
When they were babies, getting left alone with them was a sanity-testing feat of endurance and a festival of constant responsibility. If you had to choose between being left alone with a hungry baby or a hungry tiger, the decision wouldn’t have been automatic. But now, for the most part, when the kids aren’t turning themselves into projectiles, a certain level of calm has settled back on the house, and we’re beginning to remember how we entertained ourselves before the little people took over.
After consoling Zack from his failed experiment with gravity, we went into the kitchen to grab a snack.
“Daddy, can you help me with my farm?” Evan asked, handing me his iPad.
“Sure, buddy,” I replied, not paying attention as Zack wandered past, dragging his plastic stepstool behind him.
“Here you go, you just needed to feed your cows,” I said to Evan, handing his iPad back, the dragging of furniture across the floor behind me somehow not registering as a potential problem.
A crinkle coming from the pantry tipped me off that something wasn’t right. I turned to see Zack’s eyes level with my own. He was perusing the fourth shelf of the pantry, up in the stratosphere, where we stash all the good stuff because the kids can’t reach it. He’d achieved this altitude by putting a wooden chair in front of the pantry, putting a stepstool on top of it, then climbing and balancing atop the contraption he’d created, all within the amount of time it had taken to feed video-game cows.
At the gym, Kara probably felt a slight disturbance in her chi.
“Dude!” I said, running over and grabbing him tight, his survival instinct directing him to not, under any circumstances, let go of the Cheez-Its.
Our policy of letting Zack drag a stepstool around may need to be reevaluated. It seemed strange at first that Zack would get attached to a stepstool, but it makes perfect sense. The stepstool is the great leveler, allowing him to see what we’re doing on the counter, or snatch any goodies we may have left up there. A toddler with a stepstool can pretty much do anything an adult with really, really poor judgment can do.
“I got snacks,” Zack said as I set him on the floor.
And, for the moment, our family’s chi and Cheez-its were aligned.
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