This question was posed to me last night by my otherwise intelligent 12-year-old son, Harrison, when both Jeff and I expressed, at past 11 p.m., that we were tired. "Why are grown-ups so tired all the time?" he wanted to know. And I launched into a brief, yet powerful, explanation that involved something about "because you kids never pick up after yourselves" which ended in a group eye-roll and a "Why did you even ask that?" admonishment from Hannah.
But, kids, it's your lucky day! Because I'm here to explain, once and for all, why grown-ups are so tired all the time. We begin with that bane of grown-up existence - the JOB. Yes, that thing daddies and mommies go to every day, that keeps them from home for nine or sixteen hours, is often in a mysterious location, and involves some type of "work" that can only be explained in simple terms such as "daddy works to cure cancer" or "mommy fights corporate giants". Imagine, children, if you will, having to go to school TWICE in one day! Gasp! And have twice the homework! And meaner teachers! That, in essence, is a job.
But my mommy "stays home" you say? So, she "doesn't have a real job"? ...........sorry, I just fell over laughing. I'm back now. Mommies and daddies who "stay home" with their children do not really stay home. Is your mommy sitting on her ample bum eating bon bons or is she driving you to soccer practice? And gymnastics? And Italian cooking classes? Children, your mommy (and the still-rare "stay at home daddy") is a busy, busy person. She picks up after you. She makes your food. She allows you to destroy her otherwise marginally clean home with your pack of wild animals you call "friends". She, quite literally, moves mountains - of laundry and crap that is strewn across the family room floor. She brings your lunch when you forget it. She writes checks for your expensive drama retreat and your overly-priced field trip to the fun center to ride bumper cars and eat tasteless pizza.
Your daddy works at his mysterious job, then comes home to fix broken chairs, find out why your fish died, stomp down the recycle bin, fix the radiator in your car so you don't have to ride the (horrors!) bus to school, kill spiders, clean dog barf off the carpet, and maybe find a small sliver of time in which to work out or pursue his own hobbies, while still dispensing his wit and wisdom to counteract your latest teenage drama and single-handedly hand-toss fifteen pizzas for your weekly "movie night".
In between all of that, mommies and daddies rarely have time to enjoy the luxurious pursuits that you enjoy, such as lounging in front of the TV, eating and drinking all day and leaving dishes in your wake, or asking for $20 to go to the movies with their friends. We're too busy wondering why that pile of random clothes is still sitting at the top of the stairs, even though we asked you three days ago to pick it up. We're confused as to how every single glass in the house could possibly be dirty when we have an actual dishwasher that could clean them, if only someone would fill it and empty it. We're scratching our heads as to how you can still possibly have another clean piece of clothing to wear when you have a pile of laundry that carpets your bedroom floor - several inches high!
Beyond that, we have worry and concern........will you ever learn how to properly close a cereal box? Will you ever get a job? When you do, will you understand that if you spend all your money on a purple hoodie, you might not have enough left over to pay your car insurance bill? Will you ever understand the peace that relative order and neatness can bring? And more importantly, will you ever learn that wiping up spilled chocolate milk with a dish towel and not rinsing it out can only result in a permanently stained dish towel that will have to be relegated to the rag pile?
This, children, is why grown-ups are so tired. We do and do and do all day long. We give and give and give. Sometimes, we'd like someone to give a little back, you know, to allow us more time to rest and relax and be more fun, and perhaps, conceive of the concept of starting a movie AFTER MIDNIGHT and actually staying awake to finish watching it. Wonderful, you say! How can this happen? Well, this is where you come in. Lucky for you, I have compiled a list of things YOU can do to help stop the epidemic of overly-tired grown-ups who are "more fun" and "not boring".
1. Pick up after yourselves. If you eat an Air Head, put the wrapper in the trash. Same applies to cheese sticks, granola bars and juice boxes.
2. Rinse and re-use your cup for a WHOLE DAY! I know this is a shocking concept, but watch and see the amazing results.
3. If you enjoy a nice bowl of artificially colored, sugared cereal with fresh, cold milk, close the box of cereal properly when you are finished pouring it, return it to the gaping empty spot from which you retrieved it instead of tossing it on the pantry floor, and return the milk to the refrigerator. Because cold milk is a privilege we all should enjoy.
4. Do a load of laundry at least twice a week. Avoid the embarrassment of having to wear gym shorts to school because all your jeans are dirty, and, please, do not try to pass off the wrinkled, straight from the hamper look as "chic". Everyone knows. Plus, there's the smell.
5. Put your laundry in it's receptacle. Not on your floor. This makes it so much easier to walk around your room and bathroom, plus, you will actually have a chance of escaping if there's a fire. Imagine the tragedy if we had to tell the sad, sad story over and over again of how our little darlings died in the house fire because their sneakers and hoodies became entangled in their pajama bottoms as they rushed to make their escape, which was hampered anyway but their inability to open the door due to piles of dirty laundry. Tragic, indeed.
6. If you are so inclined as to hone your essential cooking or baking skills in the family kitchen, please clean up afterwards. Hardened cake batter and coagulated mac 'n' cheese are so much harder to remove than if you rinse right away!
7. If you are lucky enough to have parents who are crazy enough to allow you to have a sleepover/crash pad/frat party with seventeen of your closest friends, please be courteous and pick up and wash all blankets and pillowcases the next day. Fold them! Put them away! This, alone, will save grown-ups countless hours of hard labor, and, subsequently, less tiredness.
8. Pay your mother some respect for teaching you how to read. Award her for those countless hours of flash cards by actually reading the handy list of chores she has so thoughtfully inscribed for you and DO THEM. Every day. Think of it this way - would you rather do a small amount of chores each day or spend an entire weekend day doing hard labor and listening to your grown-ups scream, rant and threaten? P.S. Screaming is hard work and makes grown-ups VERY tired.
9. Learn some basic skills such as how to unclog a toilet, prepare a simple meal, use the carpet cleaner on a spot of dog barf, wipe a counter, wash a window, and run a vacuum. These will serve you well into your adult years, until you can produce some offspring of your own to do them.
10. Say a kind word to the grown-up in your life. "Please" and "thank you" are a nice start, but some other favorites are "how can I help?" and "why don't you rest while I do that?" and "grande or venti?" and "olive or twist?" Those are all good things to say to mommies and daddies and make them much, much less tired and more fun!
So, there you have it, kids - the answer (along with some helpful tips) on how to help grown-ups be less tired and more fun. Follow this sage advice, and before you know it, your mom will be hopping off the couch at ten p.m. shouting "DQ run! I'm buying!" or your dad might say "Who wants to go to the mall? I'll drive and here's $20!" You just never know what might result if you follow the above advice closely. And every day. In the meantime, mommy and daddy will be napping because we're so, so tired..........