Dad can’t hang with the kid; sleep deprivation sets in
I haven’t understood a word my wife has said in at least two months, and I’m sorry to say this has had absolutely nothing to do with her.
After all, in recent weeks she’s spoken as slowly and clearly as possible. She’s used plenty of small words and short sentences, speaking to me like a yellow-
jacket would talk to a snowboarder on any given day.
This, however, hasn’t helped my confused mind one bit.
And I’ve also started losing things. My keys, wallet, shoes, watch and mind have all come up missing at one time or another. I’ve even forgotten I owned the things I’ve forgotten.
“Hey, that’s mine. I forgot I had one of those,” has been recently heard on numerous occasions in the Gmerek household.
All this, of course, frightens me like a Baghdadian living on prime real estate next to the presidential palace, and my only saving grace is I know the cause of my mental breakdown.
I haven’t seen Mr. Sandman in months, or maybe I’ve seen him, but he doesn’t hang around for long when he comes to my house.
It all started – surprise, surprise – when Isabell came home. At first, however, it wasn’t her fault.
When Isabell first arrived, I’d find myself in her room late at night, just checking to see if she was still breathing. And since babies take shallow breaths, I’d – well – kind of poke her with my finger, which inevitably woke her up. And since she was wide awake, I just couldn’t pass up the chance to put in some quality bonding, playtime. Then three or four hours would speed by before she’d be allowed to fall back asleep.
After several weeks of this treatment, she eventually fell into the habit of waking up in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, just as she hit her 2 a.m. stride, her dear old dad – and I stress the word “old” – ran out of steam.
Sleep deprivation is a funny thing. I once saw a television program that followed the career of a disc jockey who, to raise money for charity, stayed awake for one week. After the marathon was over, he slept for something like three days straight. But that’s not all.
The experience altered his personality. Before the stunt, he was an outstanding member of the community, happily married with many supportive friends. After the stunt, he changed into a cynical, mean person. Within a year of the fundraiser, he was divorced, had lost his job and started drinking.
Luckily for me, my sleep deprivation has not been so extreme, even though I do find myself irritated more than usual.
Situations I’d normally ignore, the twang of a Texan’s accent, a snowboarder – scraggly beard waving in the fresh mountain air – throwing a cigarette butt on the ground, now drive me to almost commit murder.
And don’t even get me started about people who let their dogs run lose in restaurants, punks who believe Eminem has talent and morons who whistle. I hate people who whistle. I want to stuff soda crackers between their perky lips. And don’t get me going about S
Well, you get the point.
Of course the solution to my problem is to alter my daughter’s sleep habits, which my wife and I have started to do. And I must say, boy is it fun. With all the crying, whining, kicking and screaming that goes on, you’d think I’d beaten a puppy or starved a horse. And that’s just my wife’s reaction.
It seems that Beverly gets madder than an antiwar demonstrator at the mention of the name Bush when she has to work late and I put Isabell to bed without a mom’s goodnight kiss.
So, the next time you ask me a question and I stare at you and drool, or the next time I snarl at you because you’re breathing too loudly, remember I haven’t been sleeping. And when I get hold of that Sandman character, I’m going to teach him what happens to people who ignore me – or those who whistle.
Columnist Andrew Gmerek writes a regular Friday column, whether he’s awake or not.
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