My Children are Trying to Kill Me (book excerpt)

Becoming a parent has made my life more dangerous, and someday my children are going to be the death of me.  I hope it won’t be intentional, but they will be involved one way or the other. Looking out now, there are only five ways I could die.

The first likely cause of death will be a sharp blow to the head.  The most likely guilty party for this will be a toy and a dark room.  The detective will show up at our house and he’ll say to my wife “I do believe it was Mrs. White with the candlestick in the kitchen.”  The room of course will have been pitch black with toys scattered about the floor like sea mines hunting German U-boats in World War II.  This is a strategy they’ve already deployed because they’ve got my wife, who tripped over a toy on the stairs one day and had to wear a leg cast for six weeks.

The second most likely cause of death will be a ruptured organ.  I don’t know how organs rupture or how this might kill someone but I do know how children jump on my lap.  They jump and prepare to land on me with their knees and elbows.  They are the opposite of cats, who make soft landing on hard surfaces, they make hard landings on a soft surfaces.  It’s actually amazing we were able to have a second child considering how often my reproductive system got used as a food hold while our oldest daughter climbed onto my lap.  Sometimes I’ll be sitting peacefully on the couch and our two daughters will come running in together.  In moments like that I feel like I’m in a kung fu movie with flying fists and feet of fury, and I’ll be getting an all too up close view.

The third most likely cause of death will be a heart attack.  I’m a healthy guy. I eat well, exercise, and have a great family history of long running tickers.  My kids can take the thousand years of evolution and squash it like an ant.  They make my heart skip a beat and eventually my heart will have had enough.  It’s the closest I get to feeling like humans did thousands of years ago, when they had to run and catch something to eat or run to avoid being caught and eaten.  Now, it’s not about food, it’s about simply catching my kids.  I’ll look away from them at the playground for a few seconds, literally seconds, and look back to see them dangling on something like Spider Man trying out for Cirque du Soleil.  “Look at me, dadeeeee!” they shout  as I calmly walk up as fast as I can and advise them to not re-enact any scenes from Sylvester Stallone movies, especially Cliffhanger.  My heart may just get tired of all the excitement.

The fourth most likely cause of death will be artery blockage from chicken finger/tender/piece breading.  I hate to waste food, especially restaurant food.  Knowing I paid four times what it costs to make at home and then have some of it thrown away gets under my skin but that’s not the worst thing it does to my body.  Instead of food going to waste, I’ll do what any other satiated parent will do, I’ll eat what they don’t.  This isn’t fun because children’s menus in restaurants are mostly very bad.  Everything is brown (spaghetti, chicken, fries) except for the crayons and those probably don’t taste much worse. I would painfully gulp down their leftovers, the taste of the chicken slightly more palpable than the idea of wasting money.  Since then we’ve fixed this problem and have the kids order appetizers or meals off the adult menu.  Instead of doctoring the food down to children, we just doctor the names.  Cheese and onion soup becomes cheese soup, crab cakes become lobster cakes.  This works surprisingly well and the quantity of leftovers has decreased and the quality has increased.

The fifth most likely cause of death is old age.  After having kids I want to live a damn long time.  I want to see them go to school, birthday parties, and basketball camp.  I want to see them grow up and graduate, middle school, high school, then college.  I want to see them marry. I want to see them buy their first house and decide to fix something and call me to help.  I want us to drive to Lowes together to fix the thing we just broke while trying to fix the first thing.  I want to see what kind of cars they grow up driving and how technology changes. I want to see their jobs, hear their fears, and talk about their hopes.  I want to see grandchildren, which might even be better than children. I want to see all this and these wants are what’s going to keep me going.  The wants will serve as a radar for the toys on the floor and a shield to the attacks to my spleen.  The wants will keep my heart strong and my arteries unblocked.  I don’t want my children to kill me, and hopefully they won’t.

This is an essay from a book I’m writing and may not be fully polished.  If you’d like to read more about the process for writing this book, here’s my diary or see more excerpts.

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