Parenting is dangerous work. Kids will do, throw, and say things that make it impossible to watch where you are going, by foot or by car. Thanks to legions of alert drivers ahead and behind, we have avoided countless close calls. Small people seem strangely intent on committing suicide. They throw themselves off of slides and into the street on a regular basis. They eat rocks and shiny metal objects. They put small round things up their nose. They choke on all manner of harmless-looking food items. Meanwhile, schlepping their tiny bodies and their disproportionate mounds of accompanying crap screws up your back and shoulders. Even playing with them can be treacherous. I once threw out my neck playing Oogie Boogie. I got physically stuck in a maze of tunnels ten feet off the ground while pregnant with #2. No one had explained that being pregnant while raising a toddler is a Herculean task. Instead of resting when you get sick or tired, you take a whiney child to the zoo, and carry them around when they refuse to walk or sit in the stroller. The needs of a pregnant woman and her eighteen month old are diametrically opposed. As they get older, they start to walk reliably, but it’s still dicey. That last round of spanky tag got so heated I twisted my ankle and had some discomfort sitting down to ice it for the next hour or so.
Yet long-term sleep deprivation is by far the most hazardous aspect of parenting. It endangers life, limb, sanity, and all personal relationships. You snap at your spouse. You can’t tell your friends from your frenemies. You become bitter and stupid. You can’t finish a thought, let alone a sentence. You drop things, spill things, break things, and lose things, especially your shit. I once got out of the car while it was running to wander around and rummage in the trunk. It took a moment before I realized that the car was still in reverse and careening backwards down Potrero Hill with my babbling child inside. As I stared dumbly at the unfolding debacle, I knocked myself over with the door I had left open. Though secretly impressed by my wonder woman leap to the rescue of surrounding people and property, I never told anyone about the incident until now. I’m pretty sure it is more indicative of my stupidity than any sort of heroism, but it does illustrate nicely why sleep deprivation is used as a torture technique. You become completely unglued and irrational.