As with many men who move ungraciously from idle youth to middle age, there is a yearning to go back to the days when I could just do nothing. I am speaking of the same 'nothing' that Christopher Robin and Pooh chat about, when you say you're going to do nothing, then you do it. Unfortunately, work, kids and life get in the way of doing this.
My most memorable 'nothings' continued went later into life than most, but that's another story. Most often they consisted of laying out on a comfortable sofa and nursing either a hangover or a beer whilst watching sport. I particularly remember a time in University when this got so bad for me and my flatmate that we set up mirrors on our armchair to see who came into our flat for a visit-those with beer were warmly received.
Unfortunately, parenting has brought a new element that leaves me with no time to do nothing, yet the idleness had a higher meaning that I lament for now that I am left with limited sleep and even less energy. In the absence of anything I know that qualifies this convergence of desire for laziness with the need to parent I will name it the Law of Steve. This law it hereby states that personal satisfaction grows the more one can be entertained, and keep kids entertained, through the least amount of one's own energy consumed.
This dawned on me yesterday through a game that Marla and I invented called Cathouse (I wanted Cattery as it is a word I hadn't heard of before moving to the UK, but she was having none of it). Cathouse basically consists of me lying on the bed and Marla lying at the foot of the bed. I then take every pillow I can find on the bed and throw them on Marla until she is covered. She then gets up, replaces every pillow and we repeat.
So in summary, here are the rules to my law:
- Happiness has an inverse relationship to personal effort
- Keeping external forces (Marla) occupied is directly relational to happiness
- Expiring external force's energy leads to long-term happiness and better sleep
Stephen Mooney is a regular blogger on technology and running. Travels With Marla is one man's attempt to grasp middle-aged parenting of a spirited daughter, subservient son and their loyal subjects. @stephenmooney