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…


Survival Tip #3

For my regular readers (as regular as a little over a week blogging can be), you’ll remember that Survival Tip #1 was “waking up early.” With that in mind, I present:

Survival Tip #3: Staying Up Late

I realize that to the uninitiated, this tip stands in direct opposition to tip #1. I can hear you (or the sleep-deprived voices in my head) saying, “But Mike, if you’re waking up early AND staying up late, aren’t you tired?!?” And my answer to you is, “YES!” (My answer to the voices in my head is, “Shutup! I’m trying to write a blog post here!”).

According to the National Sleep Foundation (who knew that existed before now?), adults need anywhere from 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. But if you need 7 to 9 hours of sleep, obviously they’re dealing in averages. There is no such thing as getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep! You can get 7 hours of sleep, you can get 9 hours of sleep, or you can get anywhere in between. So, if they’re dealing in averages, it must mean that there are adults out there who can survive on less sleep, and adults out there who need more than that. And with my scientifical hypothesis (made up words make things sound official), I’m perfectly fine only getting an average of 5 to 7 hours of sleep (again with the averages!). Most nights I get at least six hours of sleep, sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less. And sometimes, I get a lot less (not very often).

I’m just confident that out there somewhere, there is some man or woman who sleeps an average of 12 to 15 hours per day. But the problem with that is, either this person is living in his or her parents basement or they’re working some job that they get paid $80 an hour and only have to work 20 hours a week. (Where can I get that job?!?).

If you’re a parent with five kids, you just have to learn to survive on little to no sleep. You see, after the kids go to bed is the only time you get with your spouse and with yourself. From the time you wake the kids up in the morning, to the time they fall asleep, life is constantly demanding things of you. You wake the kids up, they need help finding socks (or pants).  You get to work, and the day is full of people demanding stuff from you.  You get home, and there’s always things to do around the house (with five kids, there is ALWAYS stuff for you to do around the house).

So, that time after the kids are actually asleep (which is sometime well after the kids’ bedtime) is your only time to relax, decompress, spend time with your spouse, etc. If you want to survive as a parent with a lot of kids, this is your only saving grace.  You see, if you don’t have any time to relax and decompress, you’ll end up like an overcooked hot dog (which as a parent with a lot of kids, you’ll see a lot).

This one, specifically.

So, although you’ll be tired and sleep-deprived, you’ll need to wake up early AND stay up late.  It’s the only way to have a chance at remaining sane in any way at all.

Until next time…