Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Factor of Five

Quick: how long does it take you to unload your dishwasher? It’s a simple task, really. It should take five minutes at most – unless you’re my father-in-law, who hand dries every piece before carefully placing it in its designated location. That’ll take you about 12 minutes (no, f-i-l, I haven’t timed you at this task). My point is, it isn’t hard to do.

Unless, of course, you have a one-year old underfoot.

Babies love dishwashers. Dishwashers are like forbidden toy chests, full of things that clank and poke and splash. Best of all, they have doors that open downward, which means that if you’re both agile and sneaky, you can actually climb in while your mama has turned her focus to stacking the forks.

These days, I’m emptying the dishwasher by opening it, quickly grabbing out the first items I can reach, then slamming it shut before Kyra gets to it. While she complains, I put away whatever I’ve managed to reach. Then I distract her and move in for another round.

This little game can go on and on, with neither side willing to admit defeat. Which is why, around here, the dishwasher is always half-full. Or half-empty, depending on how you look at it.

I call this phenomenon the Factor of Five. Basically, when you have a baby around, you have to assume that every last thing you do will take five times longer than it used to. It took five minutes to empty the dishwasher pre-baby? Now it’ll cost you almost half an hour. If it took 30 minutes to get dinner on the table before, it’s best to allow 2-3 hours now. It’s much harder to prep vegetables and check ovens with a baby clinging to your knees.

One important exception to my Factor of Five rule: personal hygiene. If you used to spend ten minutes taking a shower, well, consider yourself lucky if you get two minutes now.

The good news is, babies grow up. Eventually, you can park them in front of “Hot Wheels: The Movie” and buy yourself 2 good hours of free time while they stare, catatonic, at the screen.

Not that I've ever done that.

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