For some, New Year’s Eve means meeting up with friends and family to celebrate the old and welcome the new. A time to drink and make merriment awaiting the much anticipated ball drop in Times Square at the stroke of midnight and the singing of Auld Lang Syne while couple embrace each other in a traditional kiss…….These people don’t have little kids.
Our week that followed Christmas was rather hectic. After running around the state to various Christmas celebrations with different factions of family, we were all pretty spent. To top it all off, I was slated to start a night shift rotation. I’m not particularly fond of working the nights, but when your nurse manager gives you all the requested days off you put in for during the Christmas season, you don’t really bitch about a less than ideal schedule for a few days. In an attempt to not get myself completely turned around onto another shift I try to make an effort to get a late evening nap in prior to heading into the hospital. Fat chance. Both kids were busting at the seams exciting about their new treasures they had received and with the constant traveling over the past several days, their schedules were equally messed up. By the time everything was cleaned up, kids were in PJs, teeth brushed, stories read, diapers changed, and bottles fed, I had to be at work in about an hour. I laid down for what brief time that I had in an effort to be somewhat functional at work, only to drift off to the sound of my alarm going off. Begrudgingly I pulled myself out of bed, put on a uniform, and headed to the hospital.
The first night was rather uneventful leaving me to return home and curl up in bed for a quick couple hours of sleep. I walked into the bedroom to find both girls curled up in bed with my wife looking up at me with dark circles under her eyes. She informed me that they both have been up for approximately two hours. We chocked it up to being the interruptions from the norm and there would be a readjustment period. I laid down to sleep while my wife ushered the children into the living room.
The next night didn’t go as smoothly…….
My arrival to work was met with an onslaught of issued that had occurred on the prior shift that were now being brought to my attention. The rest of the night continued to escalate in a similar fashion. While handling a multitude of emergencies, I was receiving text messages from my wife about every hour and a half.
“Just got the baby a bottle and back to bed and while I was feeding her, the eldest woke up screaming for you. What the hell? Both kids up before 1 am? I hope tonight isn’t going to be crazy here. Hope you have an easy night too. Love you.”
“So the kid is awake and crying because she wants to have fun at our New Years Even party. I think I’m going to lose my shit. I just needed to vent. I hope you’re having a better night than I am.”
“Finally said Uncle. After the kid waking up 2 more times, she’s in bed with me. Now she says her bed is making noises. She needs a fan, or something for white noise.”
“You have got to be kidding me. I think the baby is waking up now. No one is cooperating tonight.”
“Just got them both back to bed. What the hell is wrong with tonight? Hope you night is going well.”
“I cannot get the kids back to sleep now. They are both up. I really don’t know what to do. I am so upset. I don’t want to lose my temper, but I’m getting a short fuse now.”
I felt bad for her not being home and able to take at least one of them off of her hands. When I arrived home that night from what seemed like the busiest night shift I have ever worked in my entire career, I found the kid bouncing off the walls awake and whining about wanting breakfast. The baby was restless in her crib and my wife was passed out cold in the bed. I went ahead and fixed breakfast for the kid, then proceeded to lay down on the couch after the baby drifted back off to sleep. I was awoken about an hour later by my wife with the baby in tow telling me she was up and it was ok for me to go to bed.
After a few hours of sleep, I got up ready for our New Year’s Eve party at the house. We had bought all kinds of junk food at the store a few days before and my wife was already busy in the kitchen preparing the spread. Our unofficial tradition is to make several different kinds of party food that is laid out on the counter top open for grazing throughout the evening festivities. The usual smorgasbord every year includes homemade buffalo chicken wings, fried onion rings, jalapeno poppers, mozzarella sticks, and a shrimp ring. After getting of coffee and coming to my senses, my wife asks if I could go to the store to get butter for the wings. She thought she had enough to make the chicken wing sauce, but alas, she came up short.
“Are you kidding me? At 5 o’clock on New Year’s Eve?”
“It’s up to you dear if you want these wings to turn out.”
Begrudgingly, I put on my coat and run across the street to the grocery store. True to my initial suspicions, the scene was as absolute madhouse. The shelves were nearly bare, the crowd was standing room only, and every checkout lane was open and backed up midway up the aisles. Luckily, the two items I required were still in stock. I jumped into the self checkout line which was backed up well into the pharmacy at the time. Luckily since there was 6 self checkouts, I was able to get out rather quickly and return to the safety and sanity of my own home.
Or so I thought……
I returned home to find both children screaming, my wife trying to equally manage cooking and attempting to quell their distress in vain. My re-entrance was enough of a distraction that the chaos settled momentarily. We put out the food and began our feast. Like most 3 year olds, getting the kids to eat food in one sitting, let alone eating at all is comparable to hostage negotiations, so leaving her plate unattended meant that it was fair game to the family dog to attempt to snag a bite. This of course causes the kids to become literally unhinged. Keep in mind, none of us have slept hardly at all, so the forthcoming wails and flails were escalated to a pitch that caused the dog to cower and whimper. After a hard reset and distraction, I suggested we bring out some board games we received for Christmas as well as glow stick bracelets she received from her grandparents.
Enter Chutes and Ladders. A beloved children’s toy. I am in prone position on the floor next to the Christmas tree, with both kids attempting to set up the game for the first time and explain the concepts of play to the kid. The baby is in close proximity to the both of us surrounded by an array of her new toys set to explore. While trying to separate the game pieces from the perforated cardboard, the kids is finding a new found game in her own right of everything requiring to be knocked over with the glow stick bracelets while she makes “Pew! Pew!” noises. FINALLY I am able to get all the pieces separated, assembled, and accounted for and the game starts. I am able to hold the kid’s interest for only a few minutes before the baby decides that she wants to play as well. At 7 months old, she has explored the notion of crawling, but has well perfected the butt shuffle. In a series of coordinated arm flails and leg kicks, the baby is able to make her way over to the game board and proceed to shove anything and everything in the “3 years and up” game into her mouth. As the kid begins howls of protest, I am on my haunches attempting to pry the game piece out of the infant’s Kung Fu grasp. I return the baby back to her previous position with her toys and we return to the game.
Several minutes into play I remember how LONG it can take to complete one round of this game! In the early stages, if you hit a chute or a ladder, the gains/losses are rather minute. The further you progress, the risk increases. This becomes ever so apparent when out of 100 spaces, the kid lands on Square 87. The image shows a little boy climbing on top of a shelf to get to the cookie jar only to fall down the chute to Square 24 where the boy lay on the floor crying with the broken cookie jar. The game may have well have started completely over. My horror and disdain growing increasing by the minute, all the while the baby continues to move from the game board, back to her toys, over to the Christmas tree in which is she bound and determined to pull over on top of herself. Everyone is crying…..
I begin to speed up play of the game by spinning for both players, moving the pieces the necessary spaces to avoid chutes at all costs and garner spots onto ladders whenever possible amidst the kid continuing the “Pew! Pew!” game with her glow sticks. After a seemingly eternity, the kid arrived at the 100th square and I declared her winner. I make quick haste to pack the game back up and try to redirect my attention to New Year’s Rockin’ Eve on the TV. My repulsion for Jenny McCarthy and her Anti-Vaccine Movement along with the smug plastered expressions on Ryan Seacrest’s face forces me to change the channel.
At this point, both kids continue to whine and cry for no apparent reason to where I threw my arms up in exacerbation proclaiming, “OK! It’s time for bed! Happy New Year!” Surprisingly, I was met with little resistance from all parties involved and the nightly bedtime transition proceeded unequivocally. I take one look at my wife as we return from the respective children’s bedroom. I can exhaustion on her face as well as a look of defeat in that the night had gone completely opposite as planned. Just to make sure everyone was thinking the same thing, I asked her:
“Do you want to stay up until…”
“Ok, let’s go to bed.”
The time was 9:27 PM.