As I write this, Fred is at my side, squirming and pawing at the closest edge of the laptop, pivoting around on his belly in the small space that I have allowed him by sitting on the edge of the couch to type. Ten minutes ago he was on his way to sleep, half-lidded and calm as the droning announcers of the hockey game on TV lulled him off to my favourite place that I miss so much, Sleepytown. That’s when I closed Facebook and loaded Baldur’s Gate – it’s a game, and yes, I did think I could get away with it. For the first time in weeks, I thought I had a nice window of time where there were no pressing projects and no crying children to keep me from a little dungeon looting. Nyana was being suitably quiet in her Quiet Time and Fred was just dozing off, so it was perfect….or was he? I think he heard the soft tap of my finger on the mousepad as I opened the folder with the game in it. He was stirring by the time the load screen had appeared and as my finger hovered over the “load game” button, he had started grunting and moaning and generally needing my direct attention. The Fred Alarm Clock has gone off again, and by the smells wafting up to me from my side right now, I’d say there’s no snooze button on this one.
There, now where were we? Ah, yes. The Fred Alarm Clock. My new nemesis. I hadn’t realized how much I loved Nyana’s alarm system until Fred installed his on top of hers. I used to always joke that days with Ny were a breeze – as long as I didn’t want to do anything for myself. It always seemed that as soon as I wanted to play or write or read or do anything that was indulgent and could be considered some good, quality “me-time” – that’s when one of Ny’s alarms would go off (literally, like the oximeter or food pump or pick-your-mister), or she might wake up from her nap, or start gagging on something or need whatever. But it was nice in a way, because she always seemed to strike as I was conceiving my plan of indulgence. My hand hadn’t started to reach for the remote yet, my controller was still on the shelf, the comic box was still in the closet, you get the idea.
(At this point in writing I was starving (had barely eaten all day) so I stopped to make a sandwich. I put Fred in his crib with his happy musical mobile and was able to get all the way through making the sandwich before he sounded off. My very first bite was taken as I was walking to his crib to see what was up. Sure enough there he was, flipped over onto his belly, crying and grunting with frustration, one foot stuck between the bars of the crib and one arm flailing in a puddle of vomit, which was the source of a long trail that ran down the side of the crib and into my pile of laundry (which was mostly dirty but some pieces may still have qualified to wear out in public again once more before they needed washing, but certainly won’t now). The Fred Alarm Clock has just struck – while I’m actually writing about it. I knew it would happen, really. It’s inevitable. It’s just too perfect. “I’m sorry, Dad. Did you say you were hungry and just made yourself a nice sandwich that still sits on the kitchen counter with only one bite taken out of it? Well, here! I hope the smell of babyvomit doesn’t bother you because it’s all you’re going to smell when you finally sit down to eat it.” Alternatively, I suppose I could have just let him scream and flail in his mess while I ate, but who can concentrate on enjoying a meal (even if it is just a sandwich and a Coke) with a screaming baby in the background? No thanks, I’ll roll the dice with the phantom aromas. After all, the living room still smells like that dirty diaper anyway, so who wants to get all fancy now?)
And that right there is the silent jab of it all. The knife twisting in your side in the dark, the quiet burn of a sinister deception. The Fred Alarm Clock allows you to believe you have time to do something before it goes off – which it often does just as you crest that “point of no return”. He’ll wait until you really just start to get into what you’re doing before he’ll demand that you stop whatever it is and start paying him some attention. He’ll wait until your sandwich or coffee is actually all the way made, and then he’ll silently laugh at you as it goes cold on the counter, forgotten under the burden of an infant’s demands. He’ll wait until you pull out the tetris jumble that is our storage closet so you can get to your comics and he’ll even let you pull that 50lb box out and open it up to have a read before he finally decides to go off. He has waited before until I got so far as the first dab of hair dye on my head before waking at a completely irregular time. Not while I was prepping, and not as I had finished – but the actual moment (the point of no return) when I dipped into the dye and began applying. The moment my fingers are covered in blue, he goes from sound asleep to wailing irrationally…coincidence? Heck, I have been trying to start writing this post for at least two weeks now and have constantly been derailed. Even this paragraph is being written on Day 2. Everything before this one was written yesterday but then all hell broke loose and this is my first chance to get back to it. And this is only possible right now because Karen and Ny are out driving around in Daisy Rae and I have just gotten Fred down for his morning nap. It’s been almost a half hour now, so I know I’m on borrowed time already.
There is no escape from it. There is no avoiding it. If you’re lucky, he’ll leave you one hand free so you can Instagram it, but that’s about all. The Fred Alarm Clock. If anyone knows of a way to adjust settings on something like this, I am all ears.