There are a few things you need to understand about my dad and his house. He loves clocks and has collected them for years. He easily has a dozen of them and they are carefully placed throughout the first floor to create a most glorious clock experience for anyone fortunate enough to behold them. They are rarely wound but on special occasions he will wind a few of them up so that we may all properly enjoy the constant ticking along with the dinging and gonging that comes from them 1-4 times every hour. His oldest brother’s arrival from this past Thursday must have been a very special occasion indeed because he wound every clock in the house. This is a rare treat for us because they are set for slightly different times so that the various chimes/gongs seem both highly precise and totally random at the same time. The best part of all this is that despite the fact that the clocks were wound for just this occasion, my mother and I will get to enjoy the noise for weeks until the winding springs on the clocks are spent.
Another thing to understand about my dad and his house is that he likes to keep as much of it cold as he can. I guess 65 isn’t that cold, but consider this: his wife has poor circulation and he has an infant grandson who is there most of the day at least once a week. Do you still think 65 isn’t that cold? There are only two zones on the first floor. The large zone is cold and twice as big as the smaller zone. It includes the dining room, hallway, bathroom, living room and the den and this zone has most of the clocks in the house. It is also the least used part of the house. The smaller zone is the family room/country kitchen which is the one part of the house that is kept at a balmy 68. It is also where my son and I spend most of our time when we are there.
The last thing you need to understand about my dad and his house is that he hates answering machines. “If they want to talk to me that badly they’ll call back later.” Now you would think that he would have a cordless phone attached to his hip at home so he wouldn’t miss any calls but not my dad! He has one corded phone on each floor. Each phone has its ringer turned to 11 so he can hear them both ring regardless of where he is in the house or the yard or even the road. We had an answering machine and a cordless phones with reasonable ringers and when I lived there but it seems reason departed when I did despite the fact that I left my phones and answering machine behind.
Now that you better ¿understand? my dad and his house I can tell you the story of last Thursday. I usually visit on Thursdays and arrive sometime between 11 and 12. My mom is usually attending an exercise class then so normally I quickly setup the pack n play, change O’s diaper, and feed him. Then I put him down for a much-needed nap. He fights sleep every time so this is not an easy task. I usually spend at least 10 minutes kneeling next to the pack n play rubbing his back and repeatedly putting the pacifier back in before he gives in to sleep. Thursday was no different, except that he slept like crap the night before so it took and extra 5 minutes or so for him to settle and he protested more than usual. As I have mentioned in a previous post, O can sleep through quite a lot. He cannot, however sleep through a loud clock chiming on the hour. There are only two clocks in the family room/country kitchen and I knew one was wound because I could see the pendulum swing and hear the ticking. I couldn’t remember my dad ever winding the other clock and I did not realize that it chimed almost as loud as the grandfather clock in the dining room. It chimed, O promptly stirred, and I spent the next 10 minutes kneeling and soothing him back to sleep.
Once he was asleep again I took the clock off of the mantle in the family room and moved it to the mantle in the living room. Crisis averted. I put some laundry in and went back to the kitchen to make myself some lunch. I decided to make an awesome sandwich from the amazing selections of meats, cheeses and condiments that my parents regularly stock their refrigerator with. My masterpiece was complete and ready to eat when the next sleep disaster happened. The phone rang.
I bolted to get it but it rang loudly twice and that was more than enough to wake O up. I hung up on the telemarketer and unplugged the phone so that I could return to my spot next to the pack n play and get my son back to the sleep he so desperately needed. He was asleep and I had my sandwich in my hand 15 minutes later when my mom walked in and said, “Hi son!” in her loud excited voice. *facepalm* I spent 10 more hungry minutes on my now aching knees soothing him back to sleep. Once he was asleep I finally got to eat my now warm sandwich and visit with my mom.
By the time O woke up I had spent 50 minutes soothing him to sleep for him to only sleep for 1 hour. He was immediately cranky and in need of diapering/food but thankfully he was in a good for the rest of the afternoon. My dad called my cell to tell me that my uncle would arrive at 4 and to lecture me about unplugging the phone. Apparently it didn’t occur to him that he should call my cell while I am there with O. Oh wait, it should since I tell him that every week and he calls the house phone anyways! He has gotten lucky and not woken O up yet, but I have always insisted he call my cell because I keep it on vibrate when my son is asleep.
So my uncle showed up and O was super cute as usual. By 4:30 he was looking ready for a nap so I put him down and started to soothe him. He was almost out when my dad burst in the door banging bags around and talking loudly even though I quickly pointed out that O was almost asleep. Then he noticed that the clock had been moved and he went ballistic yelling about how its polished brass and I better not have handled it with my bare hands. My 15 minutes of soothing went out the window and so I turned up the thermostat in the other zone and setup the pack n play in the dining room. Twenty minutes later he was finally asleep. I promptly hit the scotch and counted the minutes until my wife was to arrive.
All told, O napped for 2 hours and I spent 1.5 hours kneeling and soothing him. To put that in perspective, he normally naps for a minimum of 4 hours and I spend an hour max soothing him to sleep. The best part of all this is that my dad didn’t seem to get why I should be the one who was annoyed. I mean, I had moved his clock and unplugged his phone right? Except that the phone ringer didn’t have to be all the way up to be heard and the clock in that room did not need to be wound knowing an infant slept there on a regular basis. I know there are random noises in that house that can wake a sleeping baby, but O is used to that and I use a white noise generator to soften most noises when he sleeps there. My dad took the second loudest clock he owned and wound it in the only room warm enough for his grandson to sleep in. What exactly did he expect? And how exactly is yelling at me with an infant in the room going to make anything better? It was great to see my uncle and he did inject some much-needed humor into the situation, but just thinking about that day makes me not want to go back because all those clocks will still be going for weeks and I am sure the phone ringer volume will be back at 11 when I am set to return next week.
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