For parents of young children, nothing sows domestic discord quite like a weekday morning. Today got off to an especially bad start when I opened my eyes exactly twenty-one minutes before the alarm, at 6:09 a.m. Now, twenty-one minutes before one's scheduled wake-up time is probably the worst possible time to wake up. It's not long enough to bother going back to sleep, and yet it's just long enough to feel completely robbed. That's why nobody sets their alarm for a random time like 6:09 a.m. Anyone who sees "6:09 a.m." on their cell phone or alarm clock is instantly catapulted into a really bad day.
A few minutes later, maybe around 6:13, Isaac stormed into our bedroom wielding a three pound, foot-long metal flashlight. He swept its fluorescent beam back and forth across the room and into our squinting eyes like a DEA agent on a midnight stake-out (if that DEA agent was naked from the waist down and announcing that his sheets were drenched in piss). I instinctively reached for the drawer in my bedside table to make sure my precious Percosets (generic name: Oxycodone) from ACL surgery were secure. But that's not what he was after anyway, of course. Rather, he demanded his usual breakfast: a "juicy butter half." For the uninitiated, a "juicy butter half" is half a Ciabatta roll from Costco, made with enriched white wheat flour, (LIGHTLY!) toasted and doused in butter, then microwaved for (TEN!) seconds and consumed voraciously from the middle outward. Crust is discarded. This wholesome breakfast is how I send my son off to school each and every morning: white bread, butter, and water. No vitamins. He won't eat them and I don't care. Plus, I have a more difficult daily battle to fight with Paige: sock warfare.
Socks are an unending source of sartorial conflict for me and my daughter. The tightrope of comfort that Paige walks with socks is high and narrow indeed. None--not one!--is the correct size, shape, or color. None of them match (obviously) and all of them have a fatal flaw: a seam that isn't perfectly aligned with the toes, elastic around the ankle that leaves unwanted impressions in the skin, a hole in the heel, a hole in the toe, itchy/scratchy fabric. The level of rage these imperfections rouse in Paige is tantamount only to that which I feel trying to make her see how this is not actually a problem. But of course it is a problem. It's my problem. Because each minute I spend engaged in sock warfare is one less minute I can hide in the bathroom until it's time to go to school and work, pretending to poop but actually just hiding from my family. The bathroom is the fox hole trenches of sock warfare, and fortunately for me, it has a few layers of security that Paige has not yet figured out how to breach. By the time she does, surely we will have moved on to hair, and then all bets are off.