When Chaos Reigns

I have always been convinced that my parents were crazy. I mentioned it to my dad at one point, how I thought he had a loose grip on reality and all.

“It’s contagious. You get it from your children.”

I don’t think I ever really appreciated those words.

Until The Day and the Night of Maximum Chaos.

Or as most people call it, Tuesday.


Awoken through the night at roughly 45 minute intervals by (in order):

  • 11-year old complaining he can’t sleep
  • 11 YO again (still can’t sleep. Now neither can we.)
  • The increasingly more urgent click click clickclickclickclickclick of dog nails on hardwood, indicating the Grandma Dog was about to poop on the carpet (decided it was easier to clean it up in the morning). Grandma Dog just don’t care, and neither do we.
  • Our youngest son (Because it’s time to get up. In Athens.)
  • Youngest son again, crying. (Because his older brother hit him. Because he climbed into his older brother’s top bunk and kicked his older brother. This is the classic case of what we parents in the Rationalist School call A self-correcting problem).


Wife (who is also sick) sucks it up, gets up, drives oldest son to school because he missed the bus. Because he couldn’t sleep. He might have mentioned that.

I pull the pillow over my head and go back to sleep.


I am awoken by ear-splitting silence. Sick Wife has gotten everyone out the door and, no doubt, gone out to do some Krav Maga while pretending the bag is my head under a pillow.



Suck down a cup of coffee while answering a few work emails. The day is looking up!


Take a glorious shower without anyone trying to hold an incoherent, dinosaur-centric conversation with me. Then clean the downstairs out of guilt for totally shirking morning kid-wrangling duties. Surprised to note that with no one in the house I can thoroughly clean and disinfect half the house in 20 minutes. Left vacuum cleaner wheel-marks in the downstairs carpet extra obvious on purpose, because nothing says “I cleaned” like vacuum tracks on a carpet.

Reward myself with a second cup of coffee.


Get an un-interrupted hour of concentrated work in. The only sounds are the clacking of fingers on keyboard, the slurping of coffee, and the occasional gentle hiss of New Dog letting one rip. Heaven on earth.


Sick Wife returns home with Sick 11YO Son via Middle School Health Room and Hurricane 3 Year Old. She notices that I cleaned.


Spend next three hours attempting to concentrate on work, mostly failing because every time I start to get back on track someone wants to talk about dinosaurs.

3:00 – 4:10PM

Oldest son is screaming in pain and crying due to sinus pressure. Hit “ENT” on the speed dial (entry 4 on my “Favorites” list). Luck into emergency Ear Nose Throat doctor appointment (we’re on the guest list). Rock-paper-scissors with Sick Wife over who gets car pool with 6 kids for swim team and who gets the crying 11 YO. I win, or possibly lose.  Haul ass to ENT, who injects child with ground koala penises directly into sinus cavities.

Screaming subsides.


4:10PM- 5:10PM

Get back from ENT. Pick up lovely daughter for her swim team practice at the other pool across town. Drive there in traffic, drop her off, drive back home.


Stop at the grocery store to pick up garlic bread for dinner and more ground koala dongs from the pharmacy. Stand in line behind white-haired old lady trying to get her prescription filled for her Lady Problems. Convince her to try ground koala nobs instead.


Loop  back to the house to drop off ground koala junk and garlic bread. Drive back across town to pick up daughter from swim practice so we can go straight to an after school group project that the nine-year old group leader (a.k.a. the most Popular Boy in 4th Grade) decided to call today for a project that is due tomorrow for reasons not entirely clear to any adult.


Arrive at pool to discover a Wardrobe Crisis in Progress. While waiting in the reception area, nine-year-old daughter’s friend comes out of the women’s locker room.

“Um, she can’t come out because she doesn’t have a shirt and she’s crying.”

“What do you mean, ‘She doesn’t have a shirt?'”

She forgot to pack a shirt, and she’s going to a boy’s house.”

The unsaid DUH was left hanging in the air.

“Please tell her to do the best she can and hurry up.”

Moments pass. Friend emerges again.

“She’s really crying. She’s afraid you are going to take her to the boy’s house without her shirt.”

Despite clear instructions to pack swim bag and snack because we were going straight to Popular Boy’s house for after school project, Mistakes Were Made and essential items of clothing were omitted. Briefly considered telling my daughter that the boy in her group wouldn’t mind at all if she showed up without a shirt, but decided to save that advice for a few more years.

Parental embarrassment, like fine wine, gets better with age.

6:20-6:40 PM

Arrive at Popular Boy’s house via changing at our house. No dinner. Expecting group project to be nearly done considering it started at 6. Arrive to find 3 other 4th graders performing Team PowerPoint by standing behind the 4th kid watching her type.


Adult direction seems to be minimal. Popular Boy’s Mom appears to be distracted with a crisis involving Popular Boy’s Sister, and possibly also wardrobe and another, different, Popular Boy.

Project scope is poorly defined.

In other words, just like every project I’ve worked on professionally for the last 15 years. I study the situation and come to two conclusions:

  1. I am really hungry.
  2. For the life of me I can’t tell why Popular Boy is so Popular. He’s a doofy 9 year old with hair that looks like it was cut by a Doberman Pincher with a seizure disorder. My 38 year streak of not understanding women is intact.

6:40-7:00 PM

Return home and eat dinner by myself.Try hard to ignore the alarm bells telling me everything will not be all right. Get a call from my daughter that, in mid project, they have to get up and go to strange-friend’s-house-who’s-family-we-don’t-know because the crisis involving Popular Boy’s Mom and Popular Boy’s Sister has escalated to the point where Popular Boy’s Mom has to leave the house and go get Popular Boy’s Sister from wherever she is across town because somethingsomethingMY LIFE IS RUINED.

Feel a brief flash of pity for Popular Boy’s Mom. Break out into a cold sweat with the realization that I am on the threshold of having my own Popular Boy’s Older Sister.


7:01 – 9:30PM

Decide that this fustercluck has fustered long enough. Deliver dinner to my daughter at strange-friend’s-house-who’s-family-we-don’t-know. Introduce myself to strange-friend’s-dad. Wonder what strange-friend’s-dad is doing married to a girl half his age who’s wearing jeans with sequins on the butt. Discover girl is the nanny. Make a mental note to look into hiring a nanny. Notice continued lack of adult supervision. Barge in, take charge of project, manage to narrowly avoid doing entire project for children and instead only do most of it. I am now also extremely knowledgeable about trailblazing computer scientist Mark Dean.

9:31 PM

Discharge duties as Project Dad after completing 50 PowerPoint slides, which is kind of like STEM education in that you are using technology to bore the crap out of someone, instead of doing it the old fashioned, analog way. Drive home. Crack open the box o’wine. Complain to Sick Wife about day.

“How did our life get to be so crazy?”

We live in a fairly dense area. All of this driving was within a 5 mile radius from the house. I managed to spend enough time in the car that I could have been standing in the Atlantic Ocean had I driven straight east (and had it not been February). I suppose with four kids, complexity is normal– it’s almost mathematically certain.

“How did our life get to be so crazy?”

“It’s contagious. You get it from your children.”


4 thoughts on “When Chaos Reigns

  1. That was seriously funny! Thank you for that. I’m with koala there in the picture. WHAT? For the SINUSES?

    “Parental embarrassment, like fine wine, gets better with age.” Yes, it does. Ain’t it full of surprises? BTW, your wife sounds pretty awesome.


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