Teenagers sleep a lot. So do dogs, grandparents, people in comas, and even babies, ironically, but not parents. This is something parents with older kids love to threaten prospective parents with, and they usually end their taunt by saying, “You’d better save up on sleep!” This, of course, is a ridiculous thing to say, as if the following is possible:
Wife: “Gee, hon, I thought you would have been up by now. It’s already ten a.m.! Feeling rested?
Husband: “Actually no, dear. I saved those last three hours for after the baby comes.”
Getting used to a lack of sleep as a new dad has been especially hard on me because I’m the point man for Maddie’s middle of the night feedings on account of the fact Heather has to go off to work in the morning. (Heather, I’m sure, would want it to be known that she gets up with Maddie on the weekends.)
The first couple of weeks were the worst. This was not only because I wasn’t used to missing my R.E.M. cycle (sleep characterized by at least four consecutive hours of slumber…a hilarious concept to parents), but also because my mother in law, who has been an amazing help with Maddie, and sadly, not a caricature of the stereotypically evil mother in law I could milk for material, was staying with us and sleeping on the couch next to the TV. This forced me to feed Maddie in the TV-less baby room where I engaged in many long, tortuous battles to stay awake. I did everything I could to not fall asleep. I shook my head until I was dizzy, pinched myself repeatedly, and even took the top off the diaper hamper so that its stench would jolt me awake.
After a couple weeks my mother in law went home and I was able to watch TV…and Tivo…as I fed Maddie. This made things much easier, but also turned me into a TV obsessed weirdo no one around me liked very much.
It started innocently enough when I Tivoed some Cops and Married with Children reruns. Comfort food, if you will, for dudes. But after a few weeks I started to watch stuff even the most ardent TV viewers didn’t watch, or if they did, they certainly didn’t in their entirety. You doubt me? Well, did you watch all fourteen hours of John Adams on HBO? No? Well, I did, and that’s something I doubt even John Adam’s descendants did. I also watched all forty-four episodes of In Treatment, and it became such a big part of my life that I sort of lost track of who my real friends were (since I hadn’t seen them in a while on account of the baby) and who my TV friends were (since I saw them every night). Consequentially, the following conversation happened one day:
Heather: “What do you think of my new friend, Beth? She’s great, right?”
Me: “Frankly I think she’s troubled. She reminds me a lot of Sophie –“
Heather: “Who the f’ is Sophie?”
Me: “From In Treatment. She has a lot of potential, but, like Beth, is clearly held back by a repressive Dad.”
Heather: “You’re comparing my friend to a TV show?
Me: “Is that bad?
(Heather leaves the room)
Me: That was bad.
Lately I’ve been watching Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, this Dude-a-licious masterpiece that follows a bald guy around the world as he eats horrible things like giant worms, fried tarantulas, and hamsters. Unfortunately for Heather, I usually end up telling her about it in great detail as she tries to eat dinner. The weirdness doesn’t end there. I also had this exchange with her the other day:
Me: “I could really go for some Chinese food tonight.”
Heather: “Oh yeah? Why?”
Me: “Well, I was watching Bizarre Foods last night and the bald guy was in China eating this cow penis in a sauce that looked amazing.”
Heather: “Yeah, we’re not having Chinese tonight.”
Luckily for Heather Maddie is getting very close to being able to sleep through the night. Once she does I will step away from the Tivo, and, with any luck, return to being the semi-normal guy I was before.