I’ve debated about whether I should write this blog post for a couple of
reasons. First, I highly suspect that those that don’t know me might read it and think I am an unhinged lunatic. After some thought, however, I realized that most people that do know me already suspect that I am an unhinged lunatic, so why not share. Second, it is always more fun to write funny posts at other people’s expense (particularly my children), so I hesitated to rat myself out in such dramatic fashion, but I have come to the conclusion that I should take a dose of my own medicine.
A couple of weekends ago the wife was not feeling well so I did a lot of Lone Ranger dad duty. I spent most of that Saturday wrangling three or four kids. As always, this resulted in various levels of chaos and disarray. By that night I was apparently a little more frazzled than I realized. It is comforting, to me at least, to know that scientists have labeled this condition. It is known as ego depletion. I quote here Wikipedia, the oracle of all knowledge on the internets, “Ego depletion refers to the idea that self-control or willpower draws upon a limited pool of mental resources that can be used up. When the energy for mental activity is low, self-control is typically impaired, which would be considered a state of ego depletion.”(1) In other words, ego depletion is the picture of every parent at the end of a long day with children. Not everyone agrees with the concept of ego depletion, but it seems to me that the idea that self-control is a finite resource isn’t far-fetched.
The Wheels Start to Come Off
Along about supper time that night I was making everyone sandwiches when the two-year-old Demolitions Expert lost her mind a little bit, as the toddler species is known to do. For some reason, the details of which are still unclear to everyone involved, including her, she got rather upset. The Demolitions Expert being upset generally leads to everyone remembering how she earned that nickname, and this night was no exception. She picked up the six-year-old Zoologist’s stick horse, and began to swing it wildly around the room whacking anyone and anything within swinging distance.
I immediately left the kitchen to deal with the situation. In fact, I abandoned my supper-making activities so fast that I still had the loaf of bread in my hand as I disciplined the Demo Expert for her tantrum. After dealing with the Demolitions Expert I looked up, and down the hallway stood the four-year-old Ballerina. She was standing by the door to the bathroom on the comforter that is supposed to be on her bed. Lately we have really been trying to get the two older kids to at least leave their comforters on their bed. We have been largely unsuccessful in this initiative. Somehow, by the end of a day at home, our living room looks like a refugee shelter for dozens of small humans who fled a natural disaster.
Looking back on it seeing the comforter in the hallway was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Of course, the following exchange between me and the Ballerina exacerbated the issue.
Me (somewhat calm): Go put your comforter back on your bed.
Ballerina: What comforter?
Me (tone becoming stern): The one you are standing on.
Ballerina: What am I standing on?
Me (beginning to lose my mind): The comforter that you are standing on that goes on your bed!
Ballerina: What goes on my bed?
Before the story continues I think this is a good time for a couple of disclaimers. First, in Numbers 20 there is a story about Moses becoming angry with the children of Israel. God told Moses to speak to a rock and water would pour out. Instead Moses did his best Hammerin’ Hank Aaron impersonation and struck the rock with his staff. If you’ve never read this story without sympathy for Moses you are obviously not a parent. Second, I come from a long line of men who tend to take their frustrations out on inanimate objects. It was not unusual on a trip to my grandparent’s house to see some type of mechanical object laying in the yard. Generally it was something that my grandfather got frustrated with so he tossed it out the front door. My dad, for his part, is the guy who once threw a map out the window of our car because we were lost while looking for the Albuquerque Zoo.
Now, back to me losing my mind.
The Dad Fail
After a good five or six times of going nowhere trying to get the Ballerina to understand what I was talking about I lost it. I said to her, “THE COMFORTER IS THE THING YOU ARE STANDING ON! PICK IT UP AND GO PUT IT ON YOUR BED!” And with that I took the loaf of bread in my hand and whacked the wall with it for emphasis.
This is where science comes into play. When you take a loaf of bread and smack a wall with it you have created a tremendous amount of pressure in the bag. All of that air in the bag needs to leave the bag, but of course it can’t escape where it wants to, the end of the bag with the tie, because that is where the bag is being held. That means that all of that highly pressurized air rushes to the other end of the bag in an attempt to escape.
In my case the air caused the end of the bag of bread to explode, showering me and the entire hallway with bread and crumbs. As I stood there with 100% whole wheat crumbs filling the air around me I realized I had just blown it completely. I called the three kids together and apologized for losing my temper. I apologized to the Demolitions Expert for doing the exact same thing she had just gotten in trouble for. And then I cleaned up all the bread in the hallway.
I was planning on telling the wife about the incident, but the Zoologist beat me to it. She came out of the bedroom later, and the first words out of his mouth were, “We need more bread.”
(1) Lest you think this is some kooky internet-fueled idea, I came across it in the book Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.