My house is filled with motion detector alarms and trip-wires, in case the power goes out. In case those fail, the Tivo is Kid Zone protected, and because The Big One still can't remember our house number, she will never unlock the TV to a world of The Mighty Boosh, Family Guy, and--god forbid--Law and Order. Law and Order kills someone without fail in the first two minutes, and it takes the kids at least that long to Bonk their way back to the menu.
In addition to the measures discussed above, I sleep very lightly. Most people in my position would be happy that the kids have decided they can get themselves out of bed and make themself breakfast. I seem to be the only rational parent out there remembering that there IS a "break" in breakfast, and I know all about it due to experience. Case in point, the kids are out of school, but I still have to work, which on good days means a morning shower. I let the program get about 5 minutes in, which guarantees that the children have entered deep hynosis, and none of this fragile REM TV watching. Then I run down the hallway, like a ninja warrior, silently, and jump in the shower. The minute the water turns off and I can cover my body haphazardly, I poke my head out of the bedroom and ask how everyone's doing. The purpose of course being to count those not dead, missing in action, or seriously wounded.
Just yesterday, I called out my customary, "How are we doing?" only to hear the Big One say, "I HAVE THE PHONE RIGHT HERE IN CASE I NEED TO CALL 911!" I know you aren't even worried at this point, and you'll have to forgive me for patting myself on the back. The second I heard that I ran down the hall naked--not caring about the prevalence of morning walkers and the number of large windows facing the front of the house. You see, we have this book the kids like to read several dozen times a week called EMERGENCY: CALL 911! Spoiler alert: some jackass kid standing on a stool to fetch cookies falls down and knocks himself unconscious, which is where the EMERGENCY: CALL 911! comes in. You also should know we have four stools in the kitchen, cookies, and (if you'll forgive me) a small population of feral jackasses.
When I entered the room, The Little One, standing on a chair in her feetie pajamas points to the general area of my VaJayJay, and squeals, "YOU'RE NOT WEARING ANY PANTS!"
My hypervigilance is not a product of PTSD or any identifiable mental illness. It's old fashioned common-sense I'll have you know. When I was The Little One's age I was already roaming the house unsupervised pretty much every morning, making breakfast for myself and for my brother. And although my memories of the very first time I entered the kitchen on my own are hazy, there is one from my childhood that does stand out.
Who in God's name would ever desperately wish for a white couch? Granted, my mom was teetering on the edge of insanity living up in the lawless Santa Cruz mountains with two toddlers 16 months apart and a husband on the graveyard shift. But really, a dewdrop of practicality would suggest at least a beige. My mother wanted white, and two kids, a dog, and a dirt driveway did nothing to convince her otherwise. Well, until that fateful morning when, trying to find my way around the kitchen I somehow opened a container of flour and got a really smashing idea. I imagine it took my brother and I a couple of hours to do it, but when my mother woke up that morning, the garish red couch we used to have had vanished, and in its place were two anemic looking children and a pristine white couch.