Kids Are Great, They'll Make You Punch Holes in Walls

I get to see this beautiful girl (my niece Eleanor)
almost everyday when I pick up my children from
school.  (My sister and bro-in-law are teachers
 at the small private school).  
Baby eyes.  Those deep, whimsical, adventurous, inquisitive, questioning, trusting, loving, cuddly, light bulbs which illuminate any room they're in. Those intoxicating eyes. They say, "squeeze my leg fat, let me wrap my tiny paw around your finger, and just try and not pick me up: I'm adorable!"

I'm surrounded by the BabyBoom 2.0 in my sphere. All my friends have little Kates, Eleanors, Evelyns, Harrisons, and Oscars in every stage from infant to toddler.  My own children, in comparison, are the wizened ages of eight and six.  Needless to say, these baby parents harass all of us whose uteruses and urethras are still somewhat usable with suggestions like: "Have you guys ever thought about having another ba----?"

Get thee back, Satan!  I said your child had lovely eyes. Not that I want to join the Dharma Initiative, again! I've done my time. I've scaled that mountain. I've slain that dragon. Why?  Why would any parent knowingly coax another into "increasing the fold?"

Because they want you to join in their misery.

Oh yes, those eyes are alluring. They're femme-fatale eyes (the kind that lure you in, and then steal your entire 401K). I love babies. I love them for about five hours. And then the memories come back.

Some people don't have very good memories. They don't remember those years with tiny tots when you realized that 76 consecutive minutes of sleep is enough for REM sleep and four hours total was an "amazing" night. They don't remember how you gave up on looking presentable, and settled for "not-slovenly."  How an uninterrupted shower for fifteen minutes was like being serenaded by an angelic Hawaiian waterfall.  How you just get used to the smell of spit up, old diapers, and butt paste. How sounds at 92 dBs seem normal, and when you walk into a silent room, you actually start getting paranoid...When will the crying begin? How every baby scream makes you think of your baby. How even as a man, you feel like you will lactate out of sympathy for your screaming baby.  And poop. More poop than would fertilize a Latvian farm.

"Oh, Chris, aren't you being a little melodramatic and callous?  Don't you love your children?" 

Emphatically YES. My children are my world. Sometimes I even sing Michael Jackson's We Are the World to my children, just to show them how much I love them. I wouldn't change a THING that has happened to me in regards to my kids.

An "unkempt" morning with dad.  

But that doesn't mean it was easy. They still aren't easy.  Although being 8 and 6 years old vs. 3 and 1 is like doing long division vs. whatever math it was that introduced that horrible concept of the imaginary number i (√-1).  I'm fairly confident in my skills at long division, however that other math class is a blur.

A blur like most parent's memories of their children's infancy.

Let me share my lowest moment of being a dad.

My wife is the theatre teacher/director at the high school we both teach at.  She's incredibly talented; so much so, that I think they keep me around just to keep her happy.

Anyway, during her rehearsal/production months, we as a family go into Defcon 2 (think Cuban Missile Crisis).  She works between 10-14 hour days, and I become almost a single-dad during the school week.  It's usually only for two months out of the year, so we survive (I do however, exhibit elements of PTSD). I'm fairly good at the role by now, (unless you include house cleaning...).

Yet when Lily was not even three, and Nadia was a toddler, it was a different story. Two kids in diapers is litmus test of parenting (especially a single parent), and for two months I waffled between acidic and alkaline...never quite finding normalcy, yet never quite becoming toxic.  Until one night.

Ambitiously I had two items on the stove. Mac N' Cheese for the toddler and me, and some Malt o' Meal for the baby.  Suddenly I heard Lily screaming in the hall.  I ran down the hall to see that she was trying to pull a Little Mermaid toy away from Nadia who was busy slobbering all over it.

It was Lily's favorite toy.  But removing any object from a teething child's mouth is asking for the wail of a dying baboon.  I walked in just as Lily removed the object.  Thus began the crying. Girls have epic wills, and these two sisters knew right then that they would have to prove dominance over the other so that they would always get the hair brush/curler/shower/first car/ before the other.

I don't know how long the crying lasted. I tried to get Lily to see the logic of sharing her Mermaid with her teething sister.  "Logic! I'm THREE! I HAVE NEEDS!" she seemingly said to me. To exert my authority, I removed the toy from Lily, and put it in timeout.  If crying is x, and you add an additional crier y, and they see each other crying the equation looks like this:  x + y + m (mimicry) + d (dad's crying) = Loud decibels (dBs). I picked up Nadia, and tried to console her, but realized she needed a diaper change. I considered giving the Mermaid back to Lily when I heard the fire alarm go off.

Why is it when the fire alarm goes off, it is always during chaos, and it will never shut off with the button. Why is the button so hard to find on fire alarms?  The fire alarm scared my girls who started crying even louder.  (We'll call this part of the equation, chaos (K)).

Bon App├ętit!  
The fire alarm went off because BOTH my Malt o'Meal and my Mac N' Cheese were burning. The mush had boiled over the pan and was on fire (451°F)...or burning, or whatever. I removed both pans from the stove and doused the flames/chars of mush residue.  The noodles were done.  I had left them on the stove on simmer (as I often do, to help melt the butter), but without the milk or butter (the step I hadn't made it to yet) the dry noodles decided to chemically bond with the pan, creating carbon (C).

With the alarm temporarily off (it would return like it always does), I went back to change Nadia's diaper.  Lily, realizing that her Mac N' Cheese was now indigestible carbon (C), began crying even louder.  She then informed me that she too, needed a diaper change.

Nadia's diaper was bad. What had I fed them for lunch?  I was complaining about all the poop when I ran out of diaper wipes.  CRAP!

I asked Lily to get me some toilet paper from the bathroom and she returned with two roles.  I grabbed one, and tried to finish the bum cleaning process.  Toddlers love being changed with dry towels (that's sarcasm).  Nadia cried her disapproval of the hygienic process.  I was just about to wet some toilet paper when I looked over at Lily who was trying to wipe her own bare bottom with no sign of her diaper.

"What are you doing!" I frantically yelled.

"I'm helping, Daddy!"

I was not grateful for this attempt at ambitious potty training. "Where is your diaper, Lily?"

"In da hawl (in the hall)."

I smelled the evidence before I saw any sign of it. It was a number 2 (Bilirubin C33H36N4Oand many other waste elements). I heard our dog, Indiana, awaken from his slumber and began a vigorous round of sniffing.  "LILY, DON'T MOVE!"  I quickly finished installing the Huggies on Nadia, and placed her in the playpen (which started another round of crying).

I grabbed the dog before he could digest any waste products and placed him in the garage just as the smoke alarm went off for the second time. BEEP!  BEEP!  BEEP!

"NOT NOW. Please just shut up!"  I pleaded with the inanimate object. It did not heed my request.

Lily hadn't moved.  I scanned the dark rug for any land mines. I didn't see anything. Thank God it's all contained in the diaper, I thought. I went to grab Lily and put her on the changing table, but as I reached down, my left foot slowly submerged into a warm gelatinous substance, pushing it through my toes.  BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!

"You have to be kidding me!"

I wish it was just bread crumbs.  
I limp hopped through the hall to wash my foot off in the bathroom, but saw that Lily had left her own version of Hansel and Gretel crumbs from her diaper to her present location.  "I'm sick of all this {expletive version of excrement}." And with that, I found the one spot on the hallway wall not covered in baby pictures, and punched the sheet-rock (Gypsum - CaSO4·2H2O) with 1000 lbs. of force (1000ft·lbf), knocking a near perfect six inch hole in the wall.  BEEP!  BEEP! BEEP!

I pulled my white powdered fist out of the wall and instantly felt guilty.  I had lost my temper in the most embarrassing way in front of my children.

"Uh oh...daddy broke da wall. Mommy won't be happy."  Lily said, and started giggling, which made Nadia start laughing as well. The crisis was over (well, except for the cleansing of the poo, and the carpet shampooing).

I left the hole in the wall for three years (although covered up with another kid picture) as a reminder of how close to insanity I veered that night.  For me, the chemical equation of craziness is:

X+Y+M+D(K)(451F)(C)(C33H36N4O6) ≠ i (√-1)(401K)(<dBs)(Gypsum - CaSO4·2H2O)(1000ft·lbf)

Thankfully, I've completely forgotten how to balance a chemical equation, so when I see those adorable little baby eyes, I think, "Yeah, this (parenting) could be fun again." (Or maybe not).

My girls now.  (Fairly easy to manage...although attitude
and manipulation are beginning).  

My cute girls back in the day playing a game.  I opted 
not to show the video of them crying uncontrollably.  


  1. Replies
    1. Let's just say your poop comment on my previous entry inspired it.

  2. Now this is the honesty I need as my wife and I head into our first child. We just keep thinking about how cool it is. Hahaha. Love it man.

    1. There are so many great moments...but kids definitely challenge you as well.

  3. What good parent hasn't had a breakdown resulting in a hole in the wall once in awhile. My friend used her shoe instead of her fist but you know, use whatcha got. You're a great dad and while I still think another Plumb baby would be fun I'll let it go :)

    1. Most of this is tongue-in-cheek. Holding babies every once in a while is great, but I don't know if I could do it again (as a full time job).

  4. Oh man. I've heard a version of this story before but this still had me crying/laughing. Thanks Chris. This sleep deprived mommy needed that one. Bring on the poopy diapers!

    1. Anytime. Always here to help the new parents with mockery and humor.

  5. Oh my goodness! How funny!...and I can relate, at least a bit as I only have one. You have twice the potential for moments like this. I can just picture the whole scenario.

    1. Yeah, as they get older the drama kind of changes doesn't it?

  6. Luckily, Andy and I agree there is only a small window where a 3rd might work for us. It lasts from about 4 months when they "sleep through the night" to about 9months when they are mobile and start trying to choke on things. Instead we find pleasure in trying to encourage friends to have more. So hey, what's a little more poop?

    1. Yeah the window is pretty much shut for us.

  7. Math. So much math. I'm frightened enough of having kids - then I read something like this and the fright heightens to terror. You're a brave soul.

    1. They're not THAT bad. Of course, that's what we parents always say to couples w/out kids.

  8. This was absolutely hilarious!! I'm thinking of starting my own family soon, and while this story scares me, it also kind of excites me. The stories! Oh, the stories! While not fun at the time, experiences like yours makes for some great conversations later.

    (also, your girls are adorable!)