As discussed in a previous post, the phrase “sleeping like a baby” means the opposite in our family. We play soothing music, set mood lighting and diffuse essential oils – it’s like a spa up in my daughter’s room – but despite our best efforts, even the slightest noise wakes her up. See, some babies, once woken up, will fuss a little bit, then go back to sleep. Not ours. Our baby immediately sits straight up and cries. And cries. And cries. For hours.
I saw a trailer for the movie A Quiet Place, in which a family has to avoid making any noise or else they’ll be hunted by a monster. In the trailer, we see the family shush each other, walk around on trails of sand and walk tippy-toes throughout their house. A Quiet Place is a documentary of what it’s like to live in our house right now.
My current getting-ready-for-bed routine is something I never expected. But before I get there, I think it’s important to understand that, until you’re trying to be completely silent, you have no idea how much noise is created by everyday activities. Here are things that make way more noise than I ever realized.
5. Plugging my phone into its charger
Plugging a cable into your phone shouldn’t be noisy. There’s that little click, sure, but I take care of that by wrapping my fingers around the connector to form a tiny little muffler. However, all this effort is totally futile. Between the sound of the coiled cable as it scrapes across the floor and the clack of the phone when you set it back down, “silently” plugging in the phone makes as much noise as tossing it in a garbage disposal.
4. Brushing my teeth
It seems simple enough. To brush your teeth, all you have to do is squirt some toothpaste on your brush – an inherently silent activity – then put the brush in your mouth – again, a silent activity. Then you start brushing. In a silent house, brushing your teeth sounds like wood screws in a blender. The vibration of the bristles against your teeth is loud enough on its own, but your head acts as a band shell, reverberating the sound at a frequency that easily cuts through even the thickest walls in my upstairs bedrooms.
3. Opening doors
During the day, doors are no big deal; I open and close them constantly. At night when the baby is sleeping, I prepare for each opening like I’m approaching the gates of Mordor.
You ever try to unzip a zipper or open a velcro pouch in a quiet room? The slower you go, the louder and more obnoxious the sound. That’s the same thing with the door and its symphony of squeaks. And if the squeak wasn’t bad enough, after you turn the knob, it’s inevitable that the latch will violently pop back into place with a loud clang. So close.
Every step in our house moans like I spoiled the ending of the new Avengers movie. I can’t ever seem to find the sweet spot on each step. No matter how I contort my body or change where my foot lands on the step, it will squeal. My only option is to find what produces the least amount of noise. Here’s what I do: I walk up sideways, putting the ball of each foot in the crease where the stairs meet the wall. It’s painful and awkward, but hey, if pain and awkwardness were a problem, I wouldn’t have survived high school.
1. Taking off my pants
Taking off my pants at the end of the night is single-handedly the loudest part of my bedtime routine. I never noticed this before I had a sleeping baby in the house. My belt clangs. The change in my pockets rattles. Even the sound of the fabric rubbing against my legs sounds like I’m sanding a plank of wood. Removing my pants is loud enough to wake the neighbors. Yeah, try explaining that one the next day.
Here’s the thing, even if my daughter sleeps through everything else, she always wakes up when I change clothes. The solution? My wife makes me change clothes downstairs. Seriously.
That’s right. Every night, I strip down to my underwear in the family room, then I walk backward up the creaky stairs with each foot wedged against the wall, then I skip brushing my teeth (because why bother?), I take four minutes to push open the bedroom door, then I plug in my phone with the care of Indiana Jones when he pulled the idol off that pedestal in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
This is fatherhood, everybody.