One of the many joys of becoming a parent is the chronic severe sleep deprivation which a new parent can be expected to endure for approximately the rest of their adult lives. Such delights as malaise, hallucinations, nystagmus, periorbital puffiness, increased risk of fibromyalgia, psychosis, stress headaches, hand tremors, aching muscles, diabetes, temporal lobes going on strike, the death of Heath Ledger and Anna Nicole Smith and fathers suddenly starting blogs are all well known symptoms and common among parents everywhere.
Many parents attempt, foolishly, to sell their children into slavery at this point, not considering that this is in no way a sellers market. So, searching for a way to alleviate these common parental symptoms a work colleague of mine suggested that I attempt to reason with the child. I, at the time huddled under my desk making small meeping noises, decided that, perhaps, this was worth a try.
I enlisted several friends and family members to corral the source of our troubles: One Year Old child. I then attempted to reason with her as follows:
Me: We need to talk.
One Year Old: Sure. But first please accept this offer of a fine plastic duck.
Me: Uh, thank you. I suppose you’re wondering why I wanted to talk to you.
One Year Old: Not really. I thought you wanted a duck.
Me: No, ducks are not the issue here.
One Year Old: Then why did you want one? I don’t understand.
Me: Look you offered the duck…
One Year Old: Fine, give it back then.
Me: Alright. Now that we’ve successfully moved on from ducks I wanted to talk to you about Daddy’s brain which is slowly collapsing into a mass of tired, bitter and striking neurons.
One Year Old: (seems to consider this) I think you’d feel better if you had the duck again.
Me: Look, I’m not in the market for a duck.
One Year Old: Your loss. What were you saying?
Me: Daddy is beginning to lose the will to live…
One Year Old: I find having a duck helps.
Me: Daddy does not want a duck right now…
One Year Old: Alright then, although I think it’s a reasonable solution. You shouldn’t be giving up on suggestions at this point. That’s a sign of learned helpless you know.
Me: Great - you’re the only one of my kids that actually listens to me and you’re using it against me.
One Year Old: The duck will help, honest. It always cheers me up…
Me: Look, daddy is trying to find a reasonable solution here that doesn’t involve genocide.
One Year Old: Then I think you should reconsider your duck policy.
Me: Thrice damn your duck!
At this point One Year Old threw the plastic duck, with pin point
accuracy, at an Incoming Teenager who had appeared in our doorway.
Nonplussed at the sudden appearance of flying plastic members of the anatidae species she announced that supper was ready and that, in her estimation, the aforementioned announcement marked the end of her responsibilities thereto.
My Wife who I had brought as backup for the Sleep debate with One Year Old, from years of experience, immediately began a run through of the two duties Incoming Teenager was assigned to perform.
Incoming Teenager replied in the affirmative to all but the last item on the list. She stated that she was not aware that she was required to make rice as part of the meal.
My Wife calmly explained that prior experience should have suggested that rice would be required with a high probability.
Incoming Teenager replied that she had thought that, given that rice was a part of a high percentage of our meals, it was, in fact, an epiphenomenon of those meals and thus required no manual intervention.
My Wife, complimenting Incoming Teenager for an intriguing theory was nevertheless sceptical citing yesterdays meal of spaghetti bolognese as a meal where no rice was manifested.
Incoming Teenager stated that there was always a potentiality of rice but she suspected that there was a Starch Quantum Entanglement that prevented rice manifestation when spaghetti was involved.
My Wife suggested that we attempt to experimentally verify Incoming Teenager’s theory and to make things interesting suggested a wager: Should we arrive in the kitchen and have a complete meal including requisite starches then Incoming Teenager would earn a friendly pat on the back and kudos all round, however, should there be no Manifestation of Rice then Incoming Teenager would be forced to undergo a spiritual experience viz All Hell Breaking Loose.
Incoming Teenager complained that the terms of the wager were uneven.
My Wife replied that she was compensating for the high probability of success that Incoming Teenager had assigned to the Rice Manifestation Phenomenon.
Incoming Teenager withdrew stating that she had perhaps erred in her calculations and that a manual Rice Intervention would be required.
Disaster thus averted I turned towards One Year Old child…
One Year Old: Can I interest you in this plastic Cow?