Things have unraveled a bit at Casa Whaley. My wife is working from home, and has been since last month. We have two small children (one seven-year-old, one nineteen-month-old) who are now out of school and with her all day. Some days I come home to a calm house where I'm greeted with a running hug from the baby girl, another hug from her mom, and a short but effective wrestling match with Logan, who is usually hunkered in front of a video game in a back room. Those days we accept the quarantine with a smile.
Other times my wife stands in the kitchen with her head down, palms flat on the island's surface, one eye twitching, a few strands of hair taking the Albert Einstein approach to style. She breathes slowly, deceptively calm. She stands there like she's trying to hold that boulder from the beginning of Raiders of The Lost Ark on her shoulders. At her feet confetti is scattered across the floor. As my eyes adjust I see that it's not confetti, it's Froot Loops. The living room floor is a landmine of stuffed animals, children's books, blankets, crumbs, hard plastic toys that are really fun to step on, and clothes. It doesn't take long for me to realize that at some point in the day, something has gone awry. My wife looks at me as if to dare me to say something.
I usually don't say anything.
It's at about this point that my baby girl comes trotting up to me and hugs my leg. She has no idea that anything is wrong. There's always a content smile on her lips, usually a greeting of "Hi daddy." All around her is the evidence of her destruction. This day has driven her mother to near insanity, has made her question whether or not she could go on with her work and home life in such chaos. To Abby, it's Tuesday.
The kids have their ways of dealing with the cabin fever too, though. Their daily lives have also been uprooted. As normal, one night I got settled (and by that I mean I walked through the door and stripped down to the bare minimum amount of clothes necessary to keep my dignity in front of my family) and took the baby to get her diaper changed. My first mistake was allowing her to drag the Nerf rifle along with her. I figured she'd need something to keep her distracted, and there were no bullets in it. What harm could it do?
We get back to the master bedroom. Yes, we still change Abby on our bed (if you want to know some of the earlier dangers of that, read Episode 2: Speedbag). Logan is lying on the bed, watching Youtube videos on the Xbox. I lay Abby down and get to work. The first blow came from the left. A swipe of neon green and orange connected with my temple and sent a jolt of pain and shock through my head. It startled me more than it hurt me, but it was still unexpected. Before I could process what had happened, though, the second blow came. The Nerf gun bounced off my forehead.
"Abby! No!" I said, but she was already on swing number three.
My second mistake was not taking the gun away at that point.
In order to change a baby you need two hands. Those same two hands can't also fend off an attack while they are attempting to fasten the diaper around the baby's waist. I was already mid-fasten when the gun hit me, so I had no other choice but to finish the job as quickly as I could while the shots rained down. In the background I heard laughter. Logan was getting some free entertainment, it seemed, while my daughter rifle-whipped me.
All told, I really only took about five shots before she understood that she needed to stop. She's at that age where it's funny when someone says "Ouch!" Looks like her mom and I have some work to do.
As for Logan, I'll be collecting Nerf bullets for the next few days. I'll gather all the guns. Load 'em up. Wait for the perfect time to strike.
No one laughs at me.
Moral of the Story: Stay sane out there, people. That cabin fever's a bitch.
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