Year 4, Day 210

Relationships with other people are complicated. We can make all our individual plans, have expectations for our day, but the moment you add one other person into the mix, their own opinions become factors. There’s compromise involved in any relationship. Toss a small child into this, and things get even more unpredictable.

Still, there are some constants in this situation that, without fail, prove to be true. In a life fraught with chaos, there is value in any degree of predictability. At least that’s what I keep telling myself, because the most reliably consistent part of my life right now is that whenever I’m trying to finish a task, no matter how big or small, I will always get precisely five fewer minutes than I need to complete it.

If Miles and Jaclyn go out to give me time to clean the floors, they will get home while I’m in the middle of mopping. Cleaning up from dinner? Miles will be let loose into the kitchen just as I’m loading the dishwasher. And, as was the case this evening, if I’m trying to build a piece of furniture, Miles and Jaclyn will come bounding through the door just as I’m literally on the last leg. Have you seen a three year old around screws and Allen wrenches? If Bob Vila had been surrounded by children, he never would’ve built an empire.

Now you might be saying, “Brian, you know you’re going to get five fewer minutes than you need? Why not just adjust for it?” Like, pick up my pace, or prep in advance. That isn’t how it works. It’s not that I always get a fixed amount of time — it’s that I always get five fewer minutes than I need. If I was able to “prep in advance,” Miles would just be home five minutes sooner. It’s the nature of the curse.

No, the best I can do is understand and accept the inevitability of it. While it won’t help me actually complete whatever task I’ve set about doing free of child (or spouse) interference, accepting my fate at least ensures that it isn’t ceaselessly maddening.

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