Tonight I saw a picture of an old high school classmate and his friend at the foot of some Himalayan waters, beautiful mountains shrouded in cascading fog, the look of adventure fresh on their faces, as though they only stopped long enough to get the picture taken, and then it was off to start a revolution in some remote village.
That is not my life. Not in the least.
Let me tell you how my life is evolving.
This morning I was desperately trying to catch that last 13 minutes of sleep we all crave. You know the kind I mean: it comes right after one of your kids wakes you up to inform you of his latest revelation/breakfast demand and the next round of “snooze” on the alarm clock. It is a sacred time, indeed. It is the grown up version of the time in your 20’s when you clung to the base of the toilet, begging God to release you from this hangover with the vow to never, ever drink again, I promise, I swear, just make it go away, oooooh that toilet feels so nice and cool and next thing you know you wake up at 3pm in a puddle of your own vomit. That feeling.
So The Wife was attempting to shoo away the children in the hopes of robbing some heat from me at o’dark thirty, since she drops her thermostat from 118 degrees the night before to 17 degrees sometime in the midnight hour. She uses her icicle toes to ferret out any sort of heat that might still be available, an exercise I thoroughly don’t appreciate.
She tells Heathen #1: “Go away, Daddy & I need some snuggle time”. This is not nearly as racy as it sounds. I simply want those elusive 13 minutes of sleep and my wife wants to play Arctic Explorer with her toes. I hate her for this.
Heathen #1 responds with: “I know why you want us to leave. SO YOU CAN HAVE SEX.“
He is 7 years old. I curse like a lovesick sailor on shore leave around the firehouse, in the shop, at old ladies in traffic, but never around the boys. I’m a sick and twisted bastard, admittedly, but the boys have never even seen that side. I still use the word “potty” for the love of Jeebus; I don’t need my boys going to school loudly proclaiming they’re “slingin’ a deuce, gonna get rowdy”, which is exactly how one verbally addresses restroom needs while at the fire station.
So sex? I’ve never uttered the word around them, but the boy has my full attention now.
“What? I mean, let me repeat that WHAT? And WHERE did you hear that?”
“I dunno. “Allison” told me that word.”
“What do you think it means? And WHAT?”
“It means when two people take their clothes off and kiss. “Allison” says she’s had sex before.”
I find myself, at this point, looking around wildly for that gallon jug of bleach that I can throw at my boys’ mouth. This just won’t stand. I am not ready for this.
It was all fun and games when I caught him at age 2 wildly humping the protective rubber ducky that covered the bathtub spout: that’s just funny, and half the reason we became parents. I laughed, which only made him air hump faster, which made me laugh all the more, and thereby assured he knows deep down, somehow, that sex can be really funny.
But not like this. Not now. Shit.
“Son, that’s not exactly what sex is, but you know what? That’s an adult topic and we’ll talk about it when your older. And, no, “Allison” did NOT have sex, no matter what she tells you.”
“Ok. But that’s what you want to do.”
Trust me son. What I really wanted was that last (now) 9 minutes of sleep, which is a damn precious commodity. You’ve assured that I won’t be sleeping in the near future, since you’ve decided to engage in the practice of talking about the unholy arts. Because, trust me, once you start talking about it, you’ll never stop. Like body hair and trying to gain approval from your father, that shit stays with you for life. You’ll think about it, you’ll do stupid things in the name of it, you’ll love it, you’ll regret it, you’ll feel dirty and liberated and ashamed and glorious all in one fell swoop. You’ll brag, you’ll cower, you’ll chase it to the end of the earth, and you’ll sacrifice your dignity and self-respect, all in the name of taking your clothes off and kissing. It is at once the reason for our existence and the source of our downfall. You’ve begun to cast aside innocence in exchange for pimples and confusion and that endless instinctive drive that will, some day, if you’re fortunate enough, torment you right up to the point of a lifelong commitment to the one you love.
I’d give just about anything for those 9 minutes of sleep now.
But I’d give a whole lot more if I could postpone his growing up for a little while longer.