Houses reflect the people within, so it makes sense they are in a constant state of growth and change – whether we like it or not.
In our first house, my husband and I crawled around and installed safety plugs in all the electrical outlets. We wired the house for monitors and bought non-toxic furnishings made of all natural materials, lest one of our perfect babies decide to gnaw on the leg of a chair.
The house changed again when we moved the baby bed to storage, added big-boy beds and stopped locking down the toilet seats. We raised the temperature of the hot water heater, no longer afraid of anyone scalding themselves and removed the baby gates from treacherous stairs.
But now, the next phase of household adaptability is in play, but this time, it has nothing to do with the children. I’m traumatized that we’ve had to replace the small, tasteful clock in the bedroom with a large-screened device with giant glaring numerals. It’s a sad sign of redecorating yet to come.
The old clock had dainty, soft luminescent numbers we never really paid attention to, because the only time we ever really looked at it, was when we wanted to know if it was time for The Tonight Show. We slept like rocks until the next morning, and didn’t think about the clock at all.
But eventually, the old timepiece started giving us trouble. One night, we were wondering if our son had returned home from an out of town football game and my husband groggily asked, “What time is it?” I opened one eye, then the other, tried to focus and said, “It’s 11 o’clock, no wait, 8, no, it can’t be 8, I think it’s 3:37.”
“Do you know what time I think it is?” he asked. “I think it’s time you get glasses.”
Of all the nerve. “I’m just sleepy.” I told the rude man in my bed, who by the way – please note, was asking me to read the time for him.
But he was right. The smudged clock numbers suddenly looked like evil little red eyes glaring at me in the dark. The more I tried to decipher the jumbled glow, the more it jolted me into a wide-awake state. And to add insult to injury, as if loosing my eyesight wasn’t bad enough, I suddenly started waking up more often in the middle of the night. Since I couldn’t see the clock, I had no idea if I should try to go back to sleep or go ahead and start breakfast. It was like living on the Space Station and having no concept of time.
I finally broke down and bought a new clock that claimed it was “visible for those with poor eyesight” which may as well have said “for those nearing death.” The numerals were not only as large as my hand, but also had a glaring blue light so bright, I feared an F-18 was going to land in the room. Even though my husband doubted my sensitive and delicate thin eyelid condition, he kindly covered the face of the $10.99 clock with $5.00 worth of tinted plastic film so it wouldn’t keep his aging princess awake. The numerals are still large enough for me to see without sending bright warnings to approaching ships. Now in the mornings, our new game is to give each other an accurate play-by-play of our evening activities.
“I had to get up at 1:14, then the dog was snoring and woke me again at 4:30.”
“Well, did you hear that car outside at 3am? I couldn’t get back to sleep until around 4:10.”
The new clock is just the first hint of what is sure to be a slippery slope into the next phase of changes around the house. The next thing you know, we’ll be installing hand rails above the bathtub, removing all the throw rugs and clapping the lights on and off.
But at least I’ll be able to tell you exactly what time the lights go out, because it’s all just a matter of time.
This story first appeared in The Baldwin Times.