My blog I've ignored for 2 years while attending the Brandcenter
My wife and I had a brilliant idea. We thought, “wouldn’t it be great if we moved our youngest son into our oldest son’s room? Then they could sleep together.” AND we could turn the other room into a guest room.
This idea sounded great. This idea seemed reasonable. This idea was simple, just moving a crib into our older kid’s room. In fact, my wife and I could just pick up this crib and walk it. Okay, turn it. Okay let’s stand it straight up, hmmm, I’m going to have to take this apart.
Having to take the crib apart should have been a red flag. We should have seen this as a sign to stop. It’s as if the house knew this was a terrible idea and was trying to warn us by clenching and making the doorways a couple of inches narrower to stop the crib from leaving. We were determined though. So while my wife fed the kids, I would take apart just enough of the crib so we could move it into the other room. Luckily, like most pieces of furniture we own, all that was required to take it apart was the correct size Allen wrench.
Hello, warning sign #2. Not only is the house baring down on itself in an attempt to thwart our redecorating efforts it is now eating my tools. Okay, I can’t blame this one on the house. This one is “Past Ray’s” fault.
In college, my buddy had an ingenious way of shifting the blame of certain things committed by himself onto previous and future versions of himself, thereby releasing him of all accountability. For example. In college, Present Ray didn’t have a lot of money but wanted to go out to the bar. So Present Ray would put the bill on his credit card and let Future Ray take care of it in a month. Fast forward a month and Future Ray is now Present Ray, and he is looking at his credit card bill and yelling about Past Ray for going out drinking when they didn’t have any money. Present Ray always hates Past Ray and disrespects Future Ray.
This time Past Ray struck again by not putting the Allen wrenches back where they belong when he initially set up the crib. Present Ray is seriously annoyed by this as he has three Allen wrench kits all missing the same size wrench. DAMN YOU PAST RAY! Luckily Present Ray found one of the missing wrenches hiding in a junk drawer and made sure to set Future Ray up for success the next time he needs that wrench. Future Ray will be appreciative.
With the wrench in hand, I took the crib apart into three chunks and transported them into the other bedroom. After reassembling the crib, the first thoughts of regret started to creep into my mind. “Hmm, if this doesn’t work I’m going to have to take this thing apart again. Oh, I’m sure this is going to work out great.”. Talking to yourself is perfectly reasonable but answering yourself is not.
After setting up the crib, I cleaned the boy’s new room and made a quick tent that stretched from the crib to our three-year old’s toddler bed. Underneath I set up all their stuffed animals under the tent. It was like a surprise party for the boys that I hoped would camouflage the fact that we just turned their world upside down.
At first, it appeared to work. Both boys were excited with the tent, and my youngest seemed confused at first why his crib was in his brother’s room. Almost like he was thinking to himself “Did I leave this in here today?” We went about our regular nighttime routine and the more they played, the less nervous I felt about the whole thing. Finally, after reading stories, and after I made all the stuffed animals talk in funny accents and voices, it was time to go to bed.
My wife coaxed our oldest into his toddler bed while he peppered her with questions about if his brother was going to sleep in his room. As I placed our perplexed two-year-old into his crib, he just looked up at me with a “you sure you know what you’re doing big guy?” look.
With both boys in bed, my wife and I paused at the doorway to their room feeling like the smartest parents in the world. Why didn’t we do this sooner? Isn’t this great? We’re so good at this parenting thing sometimes, I thought, as my wife reached for the light. “Whoa, what are you doing?” I ask her. “Turning off the light,” she stated. I glanced at the boys who are watching us like we’re putting on a show for them. Like we’ve decided to add performance art to their nighttime routine of books, stuffed animals, puppets, wrestling, etc.
I quickly reminded my wife that our oldest likes to sleep with the light on, which caused my three-year-old to offer his two cents in the only way he knows how “I WANT THE LIGHT ON!!”. Panic started to seep in. My wife and I suddenly realized what our house already knew. Our boys have completely different sleeping habits. Our youngest kid sleeps in total darkness with the only sounds being the rolling ocean and crashing waves emanating from the sound machine in his room, while our oldest likes the light on and prefers to pull a sheet over his head creating a bubble where he can continue his conversations with his stuffed animals.
Not sure what to do my wife and I just stared at each other. It was only for a moment. Maybe half a second but long enough for our kids to pounce. Kids are naturals at feeling when parents are wavering. They felt our indecision and attacked. The three-year-old began to cry that he wanted the light on even though the light was never actually turned off. It didn’t seem to matter to him. The mere thought that we thought about turning off the light was enough to send him into a tailspin. The two-year-old still not understanding anything that was going on just relied on instincts honed from millions of years of evolution and went straight into freakout city. He ran back and forth in his crib picking up the pillows, blankets, stuffed elephants, and Elmos. He threw them all overboard as if his crib were a hot air balloon that was leaking. He was dropping fast and needed to lighten the load to stay in the air. Sorry, Elmo, Woody & Buzz, that pillow his Oba made for him, it all had to go. When there was nothing left to toss he just grabbed the rail of the crib and began bouncing up and down. Giant tears streaming over his cheeks and his face turned an angry pinkish red.
We had to do something. Both our kids were in mid supernova meltdowns all because we wanted to have a guest bedroom. Luckily, we are experienced parents. We can handle these tiny temper tantrums like professionals.
We told our boys we loved them and we’d see them in the morning. Then we ran.
We ran across the hall and into our bedroom shutting the door quickly behind us. The only other sound we heard, besides the bellowing from our children’s room, was the sharp metallic clicking of our bedroom door locking us in. My wife and I stood by the door listening and hoping the cries were beginning to taper off.
“Oh no, the dog!” my wife whispered to me. Our eight-year-old German Shepard mix which usually slept in our room with us was still downstairs. I locked eyes with her and coldly stated “We can’t help her. She’s on her own.” It was true. If we opened the door, it would be the end of our night. It would be like that scene is every submarine movie where water is gushing into the sub, and someone has to shut a hatch to save the ship. There is always some poor bastard stuck on the wrong end of the hatch. Tonight it was Ruby. Don’t feel too bad for her. With all the screaming I doubt she would have wanted to leave the couch anyways.
The unofficial length of the meltdown was around 30 minutes. The boys could have gone longer, but they are still getting used to their partnership. They screamed bloody murder in unison tiring themselves out. In the future, I expect a tag team approach where one will yell his little head off until he tires and then tag the other in to take over.
Everyone eventually fell asleep, and all was peaceful.
That is until our three-year-old woke up at 2 in the morning and started trying to get into our bedroom. We are not good parents at 2 am. If you are congratulations, you’re a mutant. We brake quickly at that hour of the night, and we broke extra quick this night. We let him in, and he crawled into bed with us. Once again all was peacWAAAAAA! Oh, what the f@$&?! Have I mentioned that we curse a lot more at 3 am? That was when our two-year-old woke up and realized that he wasn’t in his room anymore and even worse his rotten big brother wasn’t in there either.
That was how we spent most of the night after moving our boys into one room. All four of us strategically placed like frozen Tetris pieces on a queen size bed. In my exhausted state the next day I had a thought. What if Past Ray didn’t “misplace” those Allen wrenches after all? What if he was warned by Future Ray to throw them away, so this scenario never occurs? I would never take apart the crib and never move them into the same room. What if somehow moving them into the same room caused a butterfly effect that brought about the end of the world….
These are the thoughts you have when you don’t sleep for a couple of days. So if somehow my boys are responsible for the apocalypse let me be the first to say, “My bad.”
Stupid Past Ray leaving one of the Allen wrenches in the junk drawer for Present Ray to find, he can’t-do anything right.
– Present Ray
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Mr. Fenske is a professor at VCU Brandcenter in Richmond VA. The site is an extension of his efforts in the classroom, except for the cartoons, which seem to grow out of some disaffection he feels with the world. Thank you for visiting. © Mark Fenske
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