The New Thing

It’s 0430 and I’m sitting mostly in the dark, here in my dining room, at an inherited oak table that’s made it at least twice across the country since about the Civil War, and I just realized today is my day. Outstanding. Mrs. Dave, the Davelings and I are trying a new thing, recently. Well, Mrs. Dave and I are. Wee Dave and Dave-called-Moxie (which may need to get revised: this one’s turned downright cheerful. Avo is not enormously pleased.) are on their normal schedule, or whatever passes for it this week.

As anyone who has spawned (inadvertently, or otherwise) can tell you, offspring require. Pretty much everything. Time, energy, food (so much food), sleep, effort, work, time, more energy, attention, and so on, and so forth, ad freakin’ infinitum. As the one at home with them, a lot of that comes from me. When Wee Dave was at this stage, I could park him in the Boycliner, rock him with my foot, and basically ignore him in favor of my writing device, unless and until he made sufficient noise to jar my consciousness loose from whatever world it was inhabiting.

And I can do that with Moxie (it. is. glorious.), but Wee Dave is a toddler, these days. He’ll be two next month (officially. he’s precocious, so he’s been acting very two since about 17 months *sigh*), a thing about which I have been avoiding thinking too deeply, and so requires more energy, more interaction, and MUCH more supervision from me than his much tinier – and smaller – sibling. For example, he’s discovered how to draw (thank you, Grammy), and I’ve discovered the unutterable joy of pondering what will remove things from the walls.

Aside: and he keeps getting taller! Who authorized this? I certainly did not. The safe surfaces keep shrinking. It is maddening, and someone is going to pay for it. Probably me.

So whenever he’s awake, he needs at least half my attention (which makes feeding the baby interesting. Or cooking. Or anything else which requires more than half my attention. Or both of my hands. I have a recurring fantasy of what it would be like to be the hexaperson from the Karres books. Twelve hands and the ability to split my attention? Heaven. I wouldn’t even need all six. I’d settle for three. Okay, four, so one can catch up on all the reading I haven’t been doing.) which absolutely kills my writing time. One cannot put butt in chair and hands on keyboard when little hands require occupying. He’s almost like a cat, but with thumbs and words.

So I’ve been getting up at 0400. I stumble out, zombie-like, usually wondering what’s possessed me, and prepare Blessed Ichor (hasn’t happened, yet, today, though I’ll get to it shortly) and maybe something a bit more solid for Mrs. Dave and me, as her place of duty requires her presence at 0600, and Moxie-baby still has needs of a morning. Then I boot up The Rig (still going strong for those following my Techventures at home) and pull up the WiP, a weird west short of ten thousand words than I’m only 12k into. *cough*

And that’s my writing time. Depending on the morning, I can steal between half an hour and an hour and a half, and I’m averaging about 800 words/hour, which suits me just fine. For now. For a parent of small creatures and a confirmed introvert, it’s also alone time, which is a commodity without price. (The next step toward genuine personhood is to add regular exercise back into the mix. That one’s going to take some doing.)

The one downside is we haven’t managed to figure out how to get to bed before about 10 p.m, and that may be what kills me. I don’t function well with that much regular sleep deprivation, though there’s an argument to be made that it decreases inhibition (similar to alcohol consumption) and that, in turn, encourages the writing, by reducing the impact of the editor voice. Still and all, I’d rather fight with that bastard than drag through the day powered by coffee and apprehension of what himself is going to get into next.

So the new thing is really the old thing: repeated application of hands to keyboard in pursuit of story, and it’s eye-opening. It’s also worth noting that at Unholy O’clock, there are fewer distractions. Not just the Davelings, I mean. The intertubes are less of a draw. Using The Rig, while I have a wifi dongle (I heard that snicker), the RasPi doesn’t have sufficient oomph to process most of the websites which suck my time and soul away. The tablet is there (I’m actually typing this on that, as it’s just simpler from which to post), but off to the side, which would have my neck at an uncomfortable angle. The gaming desktop is downstairs, books are on shelves. The biggest distraction are actually the boots I’ve been making for most of the last year (If I had that extra pair of hands, those’d be done this weekend, darnit), and if I keep myself in semi-darkness, black thread on black leather is not-so-visible.

And the words get written (even the ones I’m going to have to cut to keep the story under the cap) and the story flows, and I learn more about my characters. And for the first time in a long time, writing isn’t a chore. Now if only I could keep the house clean…


    1. Yes, I’ve also been experimenting with dictation functions. I’m not well pleased with the built-in one on my hand-brain, but I can’t tell whether that’s my limitations, or those of the device.

      1. About one day in five, their naps line up. And then it’s a scramble. What needs to happen that won’t happen unless I do it now. This tyranny of the urgent nonsense is some junk. I just haven’t figured out how to deal with it. Aside from a large fire in the backyard, which might upset the property manager, for some odd reason.

    1. Not enough, by my lights. I think about five hours out of the daylight time would about work for me. And when he’s out (for the too-brief hour or so) I have other things to do. Important and urgent may be in different boxes, but the stuff in the latter piles up until it spills into the former, and things like diapers and cooking quickly become imperative. I need staff, is all, really.

  1. I feel your pain. My son will be two in two months, but he already knows how to use stools to get to the things he wants and nothing is safe. He awakes at four am and only takes one brief nap a day. Add in a 10 hour work day and commute to and from. If he wasn’t so darned cute my wife and I would question our sanity at spawning the little guy.

    I get my writing done when he’s asleep at night and occasionally at my lunch break at work.

    1. I’m one of those poor folk cursed to enjoy greeting the sun in the morning (seriously, I’m backwards to the rest of fandom, and it sucks) and a result is that I find creative pursuits nigh impossible after about 2100 every evening. And I understand on the cuteness. I’ve been thinking about weaponizing my two, and seeing what havok they can wreak upon an unsuspecting world. For now, though, it’s just too much extra work. Seriously, though, the cute factor is a survival mechanism. I can’t imagine humanity surviving a single generation without it.

  2. Wait until you have a third. *evil grin* That’s the one that really throws the spanner in the works. The bright side, at least according to my mother (we never went past three, she had six) is that after the third, it’s all more of the same.

    I sympathize mightily. I remember those days: no time, no sleep, no stop, and the little voices saying, “pay attention to me, me, me!”. A sister used to describe it as the shark time, as in ‘if you stop swimming, you die’. Never could nap when they napped, it only made me more tired. πŸ™‚ More to the point, though, congratulations on finding a workable writing time. 800 words a day is a lot better than 0 words a day and an occasional few thousand once or twice a month. Plus, habit = yay! right?

    Might try it myself, much as I hate 4 a.m. Job and teenagers are fairly consuming still, if not in exactly the same way. πŸ˜‰

    1. That’s what some friends of mine with four (two of each) said. Number three was the hardest, and then it was, “Aw, heck, let’s just finish the set.” Which, to my mild statistical surprise, they did. Now all four are great kids, and their parents run two businesses and are still sane. So there is hope.

      1. I could take another kid (I have three) but I’m not sure I could stand another pregnancy. They’re not bad, as far as pregnancy goes, but I can’t stand the total loss of energy that it induces.

    2. We’re planning on more, though depending on the next tour of duty, it’ll be a few years. Actually, we’ll have just gotten Moxie potty-trained about then. *sob* On the upside, himself will be about six, and able to pick up some slack around the house. I’ll probably have him sharpen the knives, blow up stumps, and keep the chainsaw collection in working order…

      I get that about naps. I think I can manage about twenty minutes during the day. Any more and I’m groggy until the next morning, and nothing gets done. It’s annoying.

  3. (1) Congrats on finding writing time!
    (2) Cleaning? Dude, vacuum every once in a while and don’t give anyone food poisoning. The rest gets cleaned as it gets spilled on. OK, hit the bathrooms occasionally, but don’t obsess.
    (3) Exercise? Try finding a TV exercise program that involves fast music and colorfully costumed exercisers. My sons loved what they called “Ladies Dancing.” It used up some of their energy, and well, pity I didn’t keep it up after they started school.

  4. Apparently you neglected to have the hospital surgically install a stainless steel loop between either child’s shoulder blades. I know it costs extra, and you may not have known to request it, but trust me, it’s more than worth it.
    They’re really rather cute hanging there on a peg on the wall with a bucket underneath to catch the occasional drippings. And as they grow you can budget for a remote control cable winch with snap hook and give the blighters some range and exercise.
    And it makes outdoor excursions ever so much easier as attaching the obligatory leash is a simple step.
    But never fear, much the same effect can be achieved with a sturdy leather harness arrangement. At least until they grow teeth strong enough to chew through the straps.

  5. Two words: Shooting. Headphones.

    You can still hear the baby, but he will not drive you insane with the headphones on. Without headphones, sanity may be an issue.

    1. Sanity is a thing that happens to other people, as far as I can tell. I’ve contemplated the shooting muffs. I’d be willing to spring for expensive ones such as distinguish between screams and whispers. And Wee Dave *does* have a piercing tone when he feels abused by circumstances. Hopefully he won’t be bringing that to LibertyCon with him, this year.

  6. Norwex cloths will take writings off of walls. Can’t remember what we used to take your sister’s writings and pictograms and glyphs off the walls. I’m so proud of your son (my grandson) and you!
    The Grammy

    1. “Magic Eraser” can be expensive, but it’s great for easily taking stuff off the walls (and various other surfaces).

      Happily, the youngest of our four is now 11, but in hindsight, I recommend _not_ storing large bottles of craft paint anywhere in the house. It can get pretty bad when manually poured across carpets, rugs and couches. Throwing away any “permanent” markers will also be helpful.

      1. Sounds like you’ve had experience! Lol! Our daughter marked up a freshly painted wall with permanent marker which just took a couple of coats of paint. Water-based markers bleed through, requiring a nasty product like Flashbond to seal it before painting. I love to encourage creativity, however vigilance (and locking cabinets ) are required! Now we are having creative fun with the grands!

        1. But it’s totally not revenge, right? πŸ˜‰

          (I did have a coworker once upon a time who would deliberately tank her grandkids up on caffeine/sugar just before she sent them home to their parents. I never dared ask what they had done to spawn such a terrible vengeance…)

  7. Can you get a teen or preteen for a couple of hours here and there? With you in the house, the sitter can be younger – and play with the kids. The wages depend on circumstances, and we found the older ones unavailable after they hit high school (due to their own activities), but a break of even an hour or two is a huge gift.

  8. Soil Master from Don Aslett. That stuff, for the walls. Landlords love textured wall paint. Parents hate it.

    Six are not harder than three. At three there is one more of them than of you. By six, you will have one big enough to change diapers and all, unless you do annual twins or something like.
    Girls really do potty train earlier than boys, on average.
    And, um, this is going to sound really mean, but I’m guessing WeeDave is a wee bit spoiled. It’s hard not to, with your first. He’s two. You need to come down like a metaphorical avalanche when he does a no. It’ll make your life so much easier. Screaming when the baby’s napping, no matter how frustrated he is? That gets him whatever punishment he gets. Only exception is if he’s actually hurt. Time-out chair, bedroom, swat to his butt, whatever it is. He’s big enough to understand and comply with boundaries at two unless there’s something developmentally off with him, and you haven’t indicated a hint of that. Take that black permanent marker he was drawing on the walls with and draw your boundaries. Disciplining now pays off huge dividends later.
    The rule for you is “Do what I say, ask questions after complying.” Questions are good. But not when the goal is to be able to say “WeeDave, take your sister into to your room, close and lock the door, dial 911 on the phone, and stay there.” and have it obeyed, by the time he’s three. (This is doable. I promise. If he’s big enough to pick her up, he can do this.) Comply first, ask questions after.
    I highly recommend an enforced post-lunch quiet time when the child gives up napping. Reading for kids who can, picture books for those who can’t.
    If you need child training tips, look for the home school boards, the sections for moms of many. But for now, my kids need lunch.

  9. Oh, good newsβ€”my older two started being self-motivating when the second one got very mobile, and they started playing together. On the one hand, that can lead to trouble (that doesn’t change as they get older), but on the other hand, you start getting some time to yourself. And when the second one hits about three, you start having HUGE chunks of time to be able to do things (like half an hour at a time!)

    Admittedly, every new child resets this cycle a bit, but I currently have two in school and one toddler and it’s honestly not as stressful as the first toddler, even with the occasional “What were you THINKING?” moment. (There is a belt in the wall and it’s not coming out, just saying…)

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