Daylight Savings Time: A Conspiracy Theory

Somewhere in some (I imagine) dark, damp, creepy cave there is a secret organization that meets. This organization – for the purpose of this blog (my blog, my rules), I have named M.A.G.I.C. (which is an acronym for Make All Grown-ups Insane Co-op – exists for the sole purpose of finding (as the name implies) more and more ways to make parents go insane (M.A.P.I.C. just doesn’t have the same ring).

Children are "innocent."

The organization usually starts small. Things like fighting with their siblings…”forgetting” where they put their shoes…informing you that they have a huge report due at bedtime the night before it is due…you get the picture.

All their other efforts pale in comparison to their most heinous scheme: Daylight Savings Time. You see, this is a global occurrence (except in equatorial and tropical climates) that pulls out all the stops on making parents go googly-eyes, pulling their hair out, insane.

As a result of losing an hour of sleep, you mental faculties are already running at less than optimal levels. But then, your kids go into crazed lunatic mode. Waking them up in the morning makes you feel as if you’re hearkening a zombie apocalypse. And don’t even get me started on bedtime. Although all the clocks say bedtime, their darn internal clocks aren’t adjusted yet. Even though the clock says it’s 10:00 PM, their bodies say “I’m a rabid monkey!!!”

And then there are the daylight hours. Sleep deprivation makes even the slightest issue become World War III. You ask them to do their chores…melt-down. You tell them to brush their teeth…crisis mode. You tell them it is pajama time…the harbinger of the apocalypse is unleashed!

So, you and your children are sent into this downward spiral of sleep deprivation and temper tantrums. How long will it take for your bodies to adjust? Scientists worldwide have been trying to address this maddening issue, but they’re all too insane from Daylight Savings Time to get anything done.

Waterboarding: A More Human Alternative to Daylight Savings Time.

If I survive this Daylight Savings Time adjustment period without totally losing it, I need to start formulating a plan to stop M.A.G.I.C.’s evil plan. I only have 361 more days, time is of the essence!

Until next time…

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Which Way Did He Go???

Perhaps you’ve seen the old Merrie Melodies cartoon “Of Fox and Hounds” featuring the character that said, “Which way did he go, George?” If not, you can watch it here in its entirety.

Proof that violence in cartoons is definitely NOT a new thing...

In this cartoon, you see this overly stupid hound dog fox hunting. He’s so unintelligent, he runs up to the fox (named George) and asks him if he has seen a fox. He tells him the fox went the other way. So he runs off, gets injured, and then figures out it was the fox the whole time. He then runs into a fox in a painfully obvious hound dog costume (zipper visible), who identifies himself as George also. He tells him the fox went the other way. The scene repeats over and over again. If you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about. If not, watch it at the link above.

Not that this has anything to do with my post, but it does. As a parent with multiple children, too often we get so busy and so wrapped up in the craziness of life, we can hardly seem to find ourselves. It’s so bad that when we are without children for a day (where did those kids go?), we barely know what to do with ourselves. We sit, eerily spooked by this new-found thing called silence. We look at each other and try to figure out what exactly it was we did before we had kids. It’s a very odd experience.

We know we used to be individual people. We know we used to have hobbies and friends. But somehow, all that stuff got swallowed up by our life with children. The single people we used to hang out with just don’t seem to get us anymore. The married couples who haven’t been “blessed” with children yet seem too put together for us to relate. So, here we are all by ourselves – no kids – and we can’t think of a single thing to do.

So, what usually ends up happening is we do the one thing we can’t do when kids are around. No, not THAT thing…we sleep. Sleep is the first piece of normalcy that disappears upon having your first child. I’m told that eventually you’re able to sleep again, but I don’t think I’ve had a solid eight hours of sleep in nearly eleven years, so I’ll have to take their word for it. I guess I’ll believe it when I see it.

How is it that who we are gets swallowed up by our kids? What happened to all the stuff we used to do? Surely those pieces must exist somewhere? Surely there must be some shred of who we once were somewhere in there?

Pictured: Life With Children.

Perhaps once your kids are teenagers, a shred of normality returns? But then there are dances, dating, and driving. The dreaded triple “D” of parenthood! How can you sleep with all that going on? Sure, maybe your kids can drive and be more independent, but, really, should they? From what I’ve heard from parents of teenagers, life gets even more hectic once they get a little older. I don’t know if I can even fathom MORE hectic. My heart skips a beat even thinking of it.

My only solace is that someday, when all my kids are adults with jobs and families, I’ll find myself again. I’m sure I’m in here somewhere. And, if I recall, I was a pretty cool person (it was 2001, so my memory is kind of fuzzy)! If I’m still blogging in sixteen more years, maybe this will become a “finding myself again” blog. Time will tell.

In the immortal words of Bugs Bunny

Until next time…

Survival Tip #4

It’s Monday. I can remember back to the days of being a kid. Saturday morning would come and I could hardly get out of bed fast enough. There were cartoons to watch!!! I’d tear out of my bed faster than a cat trying to avoid a bath (trust me, that’s fast)! I’d flip on the TV and turn the volume down as fast as I could so I wouldn’t wake up my parents (that’s something my kids haven’t learned yet, I guess). And I’d turn the channel to the USA Network, ready to take in what they referred to as the “Cartoon Express.”

Cartoon Express: One of the few good things to come out of the 80's!

These days, however, there is no tearing out of bed Saturday morning for me. There is no racing to the TV to see what I’d be missing if I had slept in. No, sadly that eagerness has been replaced with the adult (boring) habit of attempting to sleep in. I say attempting because it rarely ever happens.

One thing I fail to understand is that the same kids you literally have to threaten to get out of bed for school each morning mysteriously can’t seem to sleep past the first hint of sunlight come Saturday morning. I guess I could understand it if the Cartoon Express still existed…heck, we don’t even have cable!

So, with that in mind, I present…

Survival Tip #4: Learn to ENJOY the Weekend

Monday through Friday I’m awake before 6:00 AM. Sunday I’m up around 7:00 to make sure we make it to church on time (five kids take time to get ready!). So, when Saturday rolls around, my natural instinct is to cling to every last bit of sleep I possibly can. Unfortunately, as I mentioned about, those natural instincts are usually destroyed disturbed by the results of some other natural instincts.

So, since sleep isn’t really an option, why not enjoy the weekend? Hang out with your kids! Do something fun!

I can hear you saying now, “But Mike, I have five kids. I can’t afford to do anything fun!” Hey, I have five kids too, I know how it is. But your idea of fun (fun=expensive) doesn’t equal your kids idea of fun (fun=cardboard box or fun=making strange noises). Make sure you’re not so eager to cross things off your to do list that you just leave your kids to do whatever they think is fun on their own. Odds are anyway that their idea of fun will be to be directly in the way of your idea of productivity (more likely, their idea of fun will be to destroy everything you’ve accomplished).

Saturday is most likely the only day you’ll get in a week to have fun. Sure, you might squeeze something in on an evening somewhere. But bottom line is, you’re usually too wiped out to try to have fun on a weeknight. So, next Saturday, take your family and do something fun. It can just be running around in the yard. It can be having a family movie day in front of the TV. It can be whatever your imagination can dream up. Kids are entertained very differently than you, so just make sure you’re doing something to recharge your emotional and physical batteries.

And if you don’t get Saturdays off, pick another day of the week to be your fake Saturday. You need it. Your kids need it. Your health and life depends on it.  Am I typing this as someone who has been great at doing this? No!  It’s more like I’m preaching to the choir here! It’s something I am going to try and be more purposeful about.

So go, enjoy your day off and have fun.

Until next time.

Some Days You Gotta Pick & Choose

Let me start my latest blog post by saying I’m sorry it has been three days since my last post (feel like I’m in a Confessional or something). When I started this blog, my goal was to post every day. I missed one day in the first week due to illness, which couldn’t be helped.

This time around, missing three days in a row causes a variety of different reactions in me. On one hand, I’m frustrated because I didn’t achieve the goal I set. But on the other hand, I know that my reasons for “skipping it” were valid. The first day I missed posting was because I had a long day and needed to just unwind and not think about “doing” anything. The two following days, we had company over.  We played games, ate dinner, goofed off, and had fun. And, I have to keep telling myself that is ok.

You see, as a parent your life is a constant juggling match (is that a thing?), spending every waking hour trying to keep all your priorities straight and trying to make sure you get everything done that needs to be done. From the moment you wake up, until the time you actually fall asleep, there are demands (not just children) pulling you in every direction. When you’re single, you can go home after work and do NOTHING. Even when you’re married without kids, you get home, spend some time together and you can both decide to do NOTHING.

But once you have kids – and remember, I have five of them – you very rarely have those NOTHING moments. Somebody needs help finding pants. Someone else needs help tying their shoe. Somebody is hungry. One of them is thirsty. This one needs help with her homework. This one forgot he has a paper due in the morning. There’s always stuff…never NOTHING.

I ran across a shirt online that is a good idea (in theory), but in reality doesn’t work with multiple children:

The person who designed this shirt clearly has no children.

With one kid, you might be able to keep them busy playing toddler/parent ping-pong. But if you have multiple children, there’s always another one standing in line, waiting (<sarcasm> patiently, of course </sarcasm>) for something from you. Bottom line is: Life with Children = Busy Life.

So, as a parent, you just have to sometimes choose to let things go. Some days you have to decide that although you desperately need to shave, it can wait. Some days you have to just decide to let cleaning the garage go another week. Some days you just have to find someone to watch the kids and take some time to do NOTHING. It’s the only way you can survive as a parent.

So, although I feel bad about missing a few days blogging, life goes on. I had to take a few days to have fun and relax a little. I’ll try not to miss another day, but it’s bound to happen. So, with that in mind…

Until next time…

The Art of the Melt-down

In my years as a father, I’ve noticed something alarming. I am thoroughly convinced that our children are secretly plotting together in a concerted effort to destroy any scrap of sanity we might have remaining (which is not a lot with five kids).

We’ve all been there. You’re in the middle of the store and one of your kids totally loses their cool. It might be a fit over not getting that toy they so desperately “need.” It could be they have to go potty 2 1/2 minutes after you just took them to the potty. It could be they are so hungry they simply can’t wait another minute for you to provide sustenance for their frail, weak, emaciated little bodies. (If you made it through this paragraph without picking up on the thickly-laden cynical sarcasm, please do one of the following: (a) Re-read that paragraph using every ounce of sarcasm in your being, (b) Stop reading now. This obviously isn’t the blog for you, or (c) Dress like a pirate, go to the grocery store, and address everyone as “Me Matey!”)

"Where be your ranch dressing, Me Matey?!?"

Or maybe you’re catching up with friends right after church. One of your kids obviously must’ve stumbled upon a hidden stash of pure sugar, and is now running in circles all around the foyer, despite any attempt at discipline. You’re embarrassed out of your mind, worried that one of the well-meaning church ladies might try to cast a demon out of them if they don’t stop (sometimes YOU wonder).

But have you ever noticed that only on very rare occasions will more than one of your children have a melt-down? Sure, there’s certain days where more than one will have issues – such as the day after Halloween, the day after Easter, anywhere within a two week window either side of Christmas, etc. But outside those “special days,” that is a rare occasion. And that, I submit to you, is no coincidence.

Late at night when you’re convinced they’re sleeping, I’m convinced your children are gathering for a conference. For the sake of this blog post (it’s my blog, suck it!), I’ll call it the “Crazy Conference.” At this meeting, your children are secretly plotting together to ruin any shred of mental health that might exist. In my head, this is a very organized meeting. I imagine the children follow Robert’s Rules of Order and make up an official agenda. Although I have yet to find a meeting agenda for one, I’m convinced the agenda would look something like this:

Derrickson Children
Crazy Conference Agenda
Monday, January 30, 2012

  1. Call to Order – 2:00 AM
  2. Reading of the Minutes from the Previous Meeting
  3. Unfinished Business
    1. Grocery Shopping Prevention Measures
    2. Re-evaluate Effectiveness of Church Foyer Policies
  4. New Business
    1. Stopgap Plan to Prevent Future Dinner Invitations
    2. Fundraising Strategies to Replenish Hidden Candy Stockpile
  5. Next Meeting – Monday, February 6, 2012 – 2:00 AM
  6. Adjournment

"And then you'll climb up on Dad's head like this..."

My plan is to try and infiltrate one of these meetings and see if I can dismantle this organization. My sanity depends on it. If you don’t hear from me in the next week or so, please alert the local authorities to look for my body in the McDonald’s ball pit.

Until next time…