I’m so tired, it’s like I haven’t slept in four years. Actually, it’s not like that; it is that.
Partly, I blame high-definition cable, with its ample late-night selection of food shows and softcore pornography masquerading as historical drama, sci-fi fantasy and/or vampire chronicles. Funny what serves as a vehicle for removing clothes on film these days.
I also fault Tillamook Mudslide, such an outstanding ice cream flavor I can’t help but lie awake on the couch for hours basking in the fudgey after-glow.
But mostly, it’s my kids who’ve robbed me of sleep (and with it my youthful vigor, although Tillamook Mudslide bears some responsibility, too). By the time we fought through the night feedings of my daughter’s infancy, night terrors of her toddlerhood and bed-wettings of toilet training, we were starting all over again with our son, who, awesomely enough, inherited my wife’s light sleeping genes (whereas I can, and have, slept through live gunfire; we used to live in Brooklyn and the Matanuska-Susitna Valley).
Point is, regardless the culprit, I’m tired. How tired am I?
I’m so tired I’ll fall asleep any time I sit quietly for more than a few minuzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Whoa, sorry. Dozed off for a second. I probably shouldn’t listen to Enya while I write. I’ll just put on some Metallica, here ... Oh, yeah, much better.
Now, where was I?
Ah, yes. I’m so tired the bags under my eyes have bags under their eyes. But the bags under those bags sprung for Botox, so they’re well masked.
So what if that doesn’t make sense. I’m so tired I don’t even want to argue ... actually, no, that’s not true. I’m from Long Island — I ’m always up for arguing, preferably to Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits Vols. 1 and 2. (For those who need clarification: Billy Joel is to Long Island what Jon Bon Jovi is to New Jersey, only New Jersey also has Bruce Springsteen, Frank Sinatra, Tony Soprano — both the character and the actor — and Queen Latifah; Long Island’s got the Baldwin Brothers, the guy from Twisted Sister and Jerry Seinfeld, and that’s about it — oh, also Eddie Murphy, but what has he done lately?)
I’m so tired I dream about sleeping. Not that it’s unusual for my dreams to take place in a darkened bedroom, laying prone, eyes closed in absolute bliss — only now I’m unconscious, wearing PJs, and Natalie Portman isn’t there. (Again, some clarification: every guy my age from Long Island — especially every Jewish guy — has a thing for Natalie Portman).
I’m so tired, I down a 5-Hour Energy drink every five minutes, and still no help. Curious — works wonders for the people in the commercial. So I’ve invented my own cocktail, sort of a “car bomb” for the mid-30s father of two: you drop a double-shot of espresso into pint of Jolt Cola. If you need a little something extra, sneak into the bathroom and snort a bump of wasabi mustard.
I’m so tired, I haven’t slept a wink. I’m so tired, my mind is on the brink. I wonder should I get up and fix myself a drink.
I’m so tired, I’m plagiarizing Beatles’ lyrics.
I’m so tired I spend entire weekends — not to mention state and federal holidays — tag-team napping with my wife. And we’ll continue to do so until my daughter figures out how to pick the lock on our bedroom door.
In fact, the only time my wife and I are both awake these days is when we’re putting the kids to bed. Actually, we pick up toys and food crumbs together, too — at least the ones we don’t want the baby to Hoover up because this time around we’re too tired to pay any real attention to what goes in his mouth.
Every once in a while, we make it through the Daily Show, sprawled on our own separate couches, of course. I usually pass out mid-Colbert.
Happy coincidence: this is right around when the baby wakes up, for the first of what can be as many as seven more times that night (never fewer than three). Hence, even when I attempt to cadge an eight-hour-night’s sleep, it’s chopped into hour-long bits. So on the rare occasions I actually get the Natalie Portman dream, I’m always interrupted by a screaming baby. Then Natalie gets all weirded out and bails.
Misery loving company, especially if that company brings Tillamook Mudslide for dessert, at least I’m not alone in my frustrated exhaustion. Just look at what happened this past spring with “Go the F--- to Sleep,” by Adam Mansbach and Ricardo Cortes.
A play on children’s literature so aptly hilarious, a PDF copy of “GTFTS” quickly went viral (although there’s nothing funny about copyright infringement), helping it reach the top of Amazon.com’s best-seller list a month before its release.
Obviously, Mansbach and Cortes struck a chord with people, especially tech-savvy Generation ‘Y’ parents like me who dress our babies in AC/DC onesies, drive station wagons blasting “Check Your Head”-era Beastie Boys and buy vulgar baby book parodies.
So pervasive an Interned meme has this particular children’s book for adults become, it’s even reached my mom. And she doesn’t even know how to set bookmarks. Discussing it within the context of my own extreme tiredness with her the other night, she had the unmitigated chutzpah to blame me — me! — and the rest of today’s parents for our collective children’s failure to, well, go to sleep.
Apparently, we’re doing it wrong, and not just sleep training — she means everything. When my mom and her sexagenarian friends get together, that’s what they talk about, all the mistakes we’re making with their grandchildren.
OK, mom, well, if that’s the case, then riddle me this: where do you think I learned my parenting skills? In other words: who taught me how to do this stuff?
You, all right! I learned it by watching you!
Parents who indulge their kids have children who indulge their kids. This message brought to you by the Partnership for a Nap-Free America.
• Slack Tide runs every other Sunday in Neighbors. Read more of Geoff’s work at www.geoffkirsch.com.