Wish You Were Here: Trains in Turkmenistan

photo: Unsplash

Naptime. Nothing compares. I mean really, is there anything more sleep inducing than sitting with a tuckered out toddler on your lap? I don’t know about you but for me that’s right up there with doing the tax returns or maybe listening to my ninth grade math teacher drone on about the joys of algebra, (coma, anyone?)

But I’m not complaining because Junior is asleep (finally) and because (selfishly) I won’t be forced to spend the remainder of the afternoon watching videos of really fast cars that go, grown women opening Easter eggs, or trains crossing in Turkmenistan.

Except I will because apparently I’m here and the remote’s way over there and every time I move an inch or try to roll him over onto the couch, he wakes up, screaming so it’s decided, I’m officially his hostage and will not be watching Emily in Paris.

There doesn’t seem to be any other immediate solution or at least one that won’t involve ending naptime abruptly followed by a prolonged session of some award-winning whining and a whole lotta wine-ing on my part.

My legs will go numb. My arm will ache and my coffee will sit on the counter untouched because if there’s one thing I know I’ll pay dearly for, it’s no nap. There’s nothing like an overtired 2-year-old … except maybe an overdramatic 11-year-old.

My younger daughter shoves her math workbook under my nose. Everything’s blurry. “Is this in English?”

“No, it’s in numbers, genius,” she snaps.

I rub my eyes, trying to make sense of someone’s idea of a cruel joke. Seriously, who comes up with this stuff?

Irving has 12 puppies more than Sal. Sal has six puppies more than Myra. Irving has twice as many puppies as Myra has. How many puppies does Sal have?

First of all, why? Why would anyone want that many puppies? Does Irving have some sort of a hoarding issue? And secondly, I don’t care because this puppy problem, this wordy little waste of time is just another bit of torture mathematically challenged mothers like myself have to endure when they’d rather be couch napping and eating a box of Russell Stover’s.

“Can we get a puppy?”

Oh, sweet Jesus. “No.”

“But I want a puppy.” Is there no end? “Irving has 12 puppies.”

“Irving’s not real. How many of these do you have to do?” I try to shift my arm and Junior immediately starts fussing.

“What should I write?” my younger daughter asks and I realize she’s actually waiting for me to help her.

“Oh,” I say, trying to form my thoughts into something coherent, intelligible and math-like, but thankfully we’re interrupted because between you, me and that Irving fella, I got nothing.

My older daughter stomps down the stairs, announcing her presence loudly, letting her very jingly car keys slap against her metal water bottle, opening and closing a series of cabinets like she’s casing the joint.

I shush her and she rolls her eyes.”Can you try to be a little quieter? You’d be a terrible cat burglar.”

She grabs her gym bag and starts to head out the door. “Naturally,” she says, which loosely translated for those of you who don’t speak 17 year old, very ready to leave for college works out to be something along the lines of “diebitchdie”.

The math problem continues to go unsolved, Emily in Paris continues to go unwatched and the cat lunges from a high shelf, spilling my coffee all over the counter, and then proceeds to roll in it like she’s indulging in some sort of spa treatment.

I shift my weight a little and Junior grabs my arm, shakes it, then mumbles what sounds like: carsgocargofastcarfastgocarredcarfastgogoredred in his sleep. I google: ‘how to put a sleeping toddler down without waking them,’ then puppy word problems for dummies.’

The phone rings. The cat sends my coffee mug shattering to the floor. Somewhere a dog is barking, (possibly one of Irving’s puppies?) I start to think someone’s filming me, like The Truman Show, only I’m not that likable and pretty confident I wouldn’t be able to sail a boat. The phone rings again and I see that it’s Jon.

“Yes, dear.”

What follows is what I can only describe as “farm talk”…

Something, something, something arugula. Something plastic. Something greenhouse. Tractor noises. Dogs barking. Something fuel. Something compost. Incoherent mumbling to other farmies.

“Jon? Jon…”

“Les? Oh good. Can you do me a favor? Can you just go into my office — ” (aka most frightening location I may never return from) ” — and on my desk … I think it’s maybe under a pile of papers — ” (and a can of mixed nuts and some rusted carburetor parts) ” —is my receipt book … can you just grab it and meet me outside in like two minutes — ” (that’s 20 in farm time) ” — I can’t get out of the car but I’ll just slow down and you can just hand it to me because …” something, something, something arugula. Something plastic. Something greenhouse. Tractor noises. Dogs barking. Something fuel. Something compost. Incoherent mumbling to other farmies. Click. Silence.

At some point I lose count of all the countless interruptions — the math torture, I mean homework, the clinking and clanking and stomping, the caffeinated cat, my husband and his arugula chronicles.

And Junior? He snores louder than I did during ninth-grade algebra. For two solid hours, we sit there together, him dreaming of carsgocargofastcarfastgocarredcarfastgogoredred and me watching trains crossing in Turkmenistan until finally, I nod off, too.

I guess they’re only little for so long, like Irving’s puppies. One day I’ll watch something besides troubling terrible transportation shows and drink something besides room temperature coffee, but for now, anyway, there’s nothing like sleeping on the job.

Columnist Lesley Kirschner grew up quiet, in the woods, and devoid of siblings so her hobbies quickly became reading, writing, and talking to inanimate objects. She also spent a considerable amount of time doing voice-overs for her dolls and watching too much daytime television–channel 3, sometimes channel 8, if the weather was good and the antenna wasn’t acting up. She was in attendance at school, graduated from a very much not notable college not worth mentioning, and was transplanted to Wilton with her husband, Ambler Farm‘s Farmer Jonathan and their (baby makes) three children almost a decade ago. Although she never quite found her calling in life, other than perhaps the doll voice-overs, which in hindsight were eerily convincing, she’s happy to try her hand at writing and is thankful for the support and community she found on Facebook’s Buy Nothing Wilton. Lesley realizes while this is all very exciting, she’s not winning a Pulitzer so she’ll wrap it up and be quiet. She’s had a lot of practice.