It’s possible to die from being tired, you know. In fact, I’ve come close enough to hear the pearly gates creaking—the problem is, I'm too tired to walk through. Once I made it partway through only to be called back by someone “on earth” who needed their diaper changed. Here is a sample of my near-death experiences this week:
- I saw a “light at the end of the tunnel,” which turned out to be my two-year-old holding a lighter to the end of a paper towel roll.
- Then there was the “loved one approaching me with open arms.” It was my husband wanting to know if there was any cooked meat, and if not, where were the live animals?
- My “out-of-body experience,” hospital staff now confirm, was induced by my lunch of half-digested hotdogs and stale pretzel sticks, both of which I dug out of the couch crevice because I was too tired to roll off.
Moms are real tired, and if you're not, I hate you. Kids are not tired. Ever. Not even when they're rubbing their eyes and yawning. Kids also do not care that YOU are tired because there's so much stuff to do and things to throw and toilets to clog and knives to touch and glasses to break and things to trip over and things to spill and clothes to stain and high-pitched noises to make and things to jump off of and onto and into and through. If you know what I mean. Actually, if you know what I mean, you're probably too tired to read this, and if you don't know what I mean, you probably aren't a mom.
Out of sheer survival I have had to develop strategies to deal with my dead tiredness in the midst of my son's Red Bull Mania. We'll call them “strategies” to make ourselves feel professional, but to our kids we'll call them “games” … to deceive them. These extremely fun and educational games will allow you to remain almost completely motionless and speechless while simultaneously developing your child's brain/body/emotions/social skills/spirituality/political sympathies. Okay, here comes the fun, kids!
- Brooms/Umbrellas—You can extend your reach about 3-4 feet with one of these common household objects, so you don't even have to leave the couch! And they make surprisingly good toys in themselves: a child can spend minutes in a row with a broom, picking the junk out of the bristles; all you have to do is hold your hand over the edge of the couch to collect the hair and old raisins that he forages. You can also show the child how to open and close an umbrella, then lie back as he breaks the flimsy metal arms and stabs himself, you, and the cats. (Approximate relief: 7-10 minutes)
- Balls—I discovered a simple relationship between the number of balls and the length of the game. Our house is now a ball pit. The only exertion required is a small flick of the wrist. Generally the child will present you with a ball. You simply flick it, and then watch the child run after it. You can also train the child to bring it back. (Approximate relief: 10-15 minutes)
- Books—Now hold on, you don't actually have to read them. In fact, you don't even have to hold a book. What you do is allow the child to sit on you with the book propped between your head and the side of the couch. The child flips the pages, points, gets excited/sad/angry about various things therein, to which you need to respond merely with understanding moans. (Approximate relief: 1-15 minutes)
- Eating—Cover your entire torso with mounds of food, and your child will simply help himself, buffet style. (Approximate relief: 5-6 minutes)
- Hide-N-Seek—Allow your former fetus to cover and uncover himself/yourself with blankets and sheets. You may occasionally need to interject, “Where's Noah?” “There he is!” but if this becomes burdensome, you can easily record it once, then hire a robot to push the play button at regular intervals. (Approximate relief: 3-5 minutes)
- Cats—My secret weapon. I would say, as with balls, that the more the better, but with cats you need a critical mass, or they will form a gang. There are so many unethical things you can do to cats, and while I'm not advocating animal cruelty, isn't it about time cats got what's coming to them? Besides, cats need to man up and fend for themselves if they're ever going to evolve into dogs. More to the point, a human mother's rest is of far more importance to the earth's delicate ecosystem than a cat's comfort. As it is, my cats freakin' sleep on pillows and eat the fatty pieces of pre-cooked pot roast—do they really have anything to complain about?
So what if Noah entertains himself by pulling their tails and whiskers? So what if he rubs their fur the wrong direction causing unsightly dandruff and matting? So what if he high-fives them in the face because their arms don't bend the right direction to return the gesture? So what if he forces cheese sticks and cold hotdogs into their mouths as they back into a corner and growl low in their chest? So what if he points and stares and laughs at their interesting rectums?
It allows this dead tired mom about 17 minutes of semi-guiltless rest.