Thursday, September 12, 2013

Three is a magic number

Years ago I learned to juggle two round objects.  Apples, oranges, baseballs…if I had two of them I could juggle them easily with one hand.

When a third round object is added that is the point where juggling stops being juggling and turns into something else.  Sometimes it results in chasing a round object or two, other times it’s cleaning up a mess or a visit to the emergency room.  Three is a magic number for disaster.

I like to be efficient and I love the opportunity to do several things at once.  I have come to discover that like juggling, I’m probably limited to just two things.

In the evenings I get my kids ready for bed and I read to them.  After that I head down to my garage and spend whatever available time I have on the treadmill.  I take my smart phone because I can do things like listen to music, listen to podcasts, or watch Netflix buffer.  Sometimes I’ll return a text message using the voice recognition.  While on the treadmill my reply of “I’m on the treadmill, what are you doing?”  becomes “I’m cleaning a red spill, but our dune.”  I send it anyway.  Sure it doesn’t make sense but I’m multi-tasking, deal with it.  This is me doing two things like a boss.

Last night while on the treadmill I returned a phone call that I had missed while putting my boys to bed.  I plugged my smart phone into the treadmill’s speaker system and listened as the phone rang.  My brother answered and immediately tore into the middle of a conversation.  I assumed he didn’t know who he was talking to.

Me: What are you talking about?
Brother: Didn’t you listen to my voicemail?
Me: No.  (whiiiir of treadmill in background)
Brother: <he continues>

While listening to him continue I heard the door open behind me from the house and my three year old had escaped his bedroom, snuck downstairs and had come down.  He begins talking to me.  

Brother: So anyway I was wondering if you could…..
Me: Go back to bed!
3 Year Old: Dad, <indistinguishable rationale for being out of bed follows>
Brother: Are you talking to me?
Me: No, just a second.  What are you doing behind the car?  Go back to bed please.
3 Year Old Dad, <can’t hear over the treadmill>
Me: I can’t hear you.  Go in the house.
Brother <louder> What are you doing?

While trying to talk to my brother and my young son at the same time as covering miles on the treadmill I had now allowed a third round object to enter into my juggling routine.  I set the phone down on the console and then whipped my hand back and knocked the “emergency stop” for the treadmill off its mount and listened as I heard it bounce and roll under my car while the treadmill motor slowly came a stop. 

My son was suddenly in amazement at the object that flew off the treadmill and became silent.  All I could hear was my brother coming over the treadmill speakers. 

“Hello? Are you there?”

My three year old son has the ability to recognize dangerous tension.  He voluntarily retreated into the house.

“I’ll let you go; you sound busy” I heard my brother say while I was crawling under my car looking for the treadmill’s emergency stop device.

While under the car I discovered some takeaways from this experience:

  1. I can do two things, not three.
  2. Have an escape route for one of the first two things in case a third thing suddenly plots to ruin your juggling.
  3. The only thing I had the complete control to stop (the treadmill) was the one thing I refused to stop and it ended up stopping anyway.
  4. Poopy pants pizza party.  I’m multi-tasking, deal with it.

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