(This is #7 of 30 raw essays in 30 days.)
It’s 6 am and the alarm goes off. Not the riiiiiiing on the iPhone designed to yank you back from dreamland (what a terrible list of built-in alarm sounds), but the subtle sound of crickets getting gradually chirping louder. Chi chi chi… CHI CHI CHI CHI…
I get up. My stomach gurgles as I expect, hungry for something to digest. I freshen up in the toilet and flip the right set of light switches on so that the configuration is just bright enough to let me see what I’m doing and not bright enough to penetrate the eyelids of my child, sleeping in the adjacent room with the door closed. Why hasn’t someone invented doors without a gap below?
She’s still asleep. I think I managed to slip out of bed this morning without disturbing her. I’m talking about my partner, but I could also be talking about my child. Stealth is the game I’ve learned to play at this hour, however unwillingly, since this is my apartment too. In the early mornings, I sometimes feel like a burglar in my own apartment.
I pour a glass of water, gulp it down, and bring my refill to the kitchen table. I sit and begin to scribble.
Today let’s try to —
aaahhhh! sniff sniff… yiiieeeeeeaarrrrrrrrrrh!!!
Oh, what the hell. The kid is awake? Why in the world is she up so early?! I was just about to start writing down the first idea for today’s sketch. I’ve only got this hour to create something for the day! She can’t be up!
My neck hurts a little as I think this. The crying, in the meantime, has escalated into screaming. She is outright screeching like a banshee right now and I hate my life.
What did I expect? She is a child. And children do not measure their actions. They haven’t learned how to do it yet, and it takes some years to do so.
Now I am pacing around the room wondering what to do next.
Plug in earphones and turn up the volume of a Lo-Fi playlist and get back to trying to be creative? What if this morning happens to be a real emergency, like waking up with a high fever? Or she had gotten out of her cot and gotten her head stuck
behind the radiator that is slow cooking her cheeks? Or, like I’ve read before in the news, she could be suffocating under the weight of a toppled nappy-changing trolley and is about to have her last breath. I know I cannot simply ignore the fact that my child is playing the lead singer of a heavy metal band. She may legitimately need my help…
Even if for years this hasn’t been the case once, once is enough fatality.
In truth, I know there’s nothing I can do.
I return to my notepad and try to jot ideas but I simply cannot focus in the sea of her screams. My neck muscles are feeling tighter than they had ever been.
I give up. Or maybe I’m giving in? There is nothing I can do when my child is crying. It sucks because I deserve to have this time to myself. Everyone in this house knows I will play the willing child servant throughout the rest of the day. I made time for this by waking earlier than everyone else, yet I am robbed. She is the real burglar in the house!