July 30, 2012
Seven Minutes of Terror
There are two types of days in my world, both marked by how they begin. One day involves my waking up, going downstairs, having a leisurely glass of orange juice, and packing my lunch. Soon enough, my daughters will wake up, so I get breakfast ready for them and mentally prepare for the demands that come with having a three-year-old and an almost-one-year-old. That's a good day.
Then there are "seven minutes of terror" days, and they have nothing to do with landing on Mars. There's usually a predictable rhythm with kids (and most humans). They wake up at roughly the same time each day (in our house, around 7:30), and I've adjusted my sleep schedule to wake up a little before that. And then comes the morning where somewhere on the downswing into Stage II sleep, I hear the sounds of the three-year-old bounding across her bedroom floor and opening the door and calling out. This inevitably wakes the baby. At 6:30. My body is not ready for this, but soon I'm surprised to discover that I'm vertical and parenting.
There's an odd awareness in those first seven minutes. First, there is the woozily confused thought of "Why are you up so early?" followed by the equally irrational "Why don't you just go back to bed?" (Oh right, you don't understand time yet...) Then there's the realization that I've mentally had no time to prepare for what's about to happen. Then comes the panic. I need to debrief the previous night's dreams, orchestrate a diaper change, keep both kids from jumping off the stairs, and figure out what's for breakfast. And I can barely put together a sentence...
Baseball games have rhythms too, particularly in the modern bullpen. There are relievers who pitch to protect leads, those who pitch when the team is losing, LOOGYs, ROOGYs, seventh-inning guys, eighth-inning guys, and closers. Whatever inefficiencies are present in the construction of the modern bullpen, it has one property that probably explains a lot of its popularity: it grants a certain amount of predictability to what's about to happen. If I'm the closer, it's a close game, and we're winning, I'm going in when the ninth inning rolls around. So, around the seventh inning, I have a good idea of whether or not I'll be needed.
But baseball is a strange game. Things sometimes change quickly and unexpectedly. Sometimes, the home team goes from two down to one up thanks to a well-placed three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth with two outs. The ninth, which probably would have gone to the "ninth inning, we're down by two" guy, suddenly becomes a job for "the closer."
Wake up... the toddler wants breakfast, a hug, and three outs against the heart of the order.