Unequivocally Ambiguous

Humorous Stories on Parenting, Culture and Life

There is No Middle. There is No Hang.

by | Mar 2, 2024 | Parenting | 0 comments

The curvature of parental involvement

Marnie used to sail to Mexico for days. And apparently, when you sail overnight, you have to wake up every fifteen minutes to make sure a giant cruise ship, à la Icon of the Sea, won’t flatten you like a baseball card.

The theory is that the world’s curvature is fifteen minutes, so you can only see fifteen minutes ahead. You wake up every fifteen minutes to see nothing coming your way. If there is, you can radio the ship; if there isn’t, you can return to your miserable sleep routine.

Sailing overnight sounds dreadful.

Are there more dreadful things than that?


First waterboarding. While I’ve never been waterboarded, I have swam in seawater pools, and water has gone up my nose, and that’s a terrible feeling. I typically come out of the pool shouting, “Stop. Stop. I did it, and if you give me a few minutes, I can come up with some locations of IEDs.”

Second, being kidnapped and sold into modern slavery somewhere in the Middle East. It happens more than you think. People think being handsome and charismatic is all fun and games. Honestly, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. It can be an absolute liability in certain cities of this country.

Third, listening to classical music and pretending to like it. Classical music is part of history. We should read about it, not listen to it.

All of these happen against your will, especially for me, listening to classical music.

But when you sail at night, you did that to you.

It is hard to feel sympathy about someone who chooses to sail at night and then is flattened by a cargo ship into the shape of a flapjack. You may think, “A quesadilla is flatter than a flapjack, especially if you add my secret ingredient to the mix because they come out very fluffy.” Yes, I know. But flattening a boat with sailors in it, it’s not that flat.

Oh, and the secret ingredient is butter. It always is.

I think about Marnie’s sailing lesson when I’m with my daughters. The curvature of parental involvement is fifteen seconds.

In parenting, there is no such thing as deep focus because the moment you start working on a task is the moment your kids start fighting over a Lighting Mcqueen, running into a corner of the wall, or decide to pay a Rothko all over your table or on that new silk pajamas with the lilikois on it that Grammie just got them from Kauai.

That’s why parenting is a two-person contact sport. One parent runs interference while the other kicks a touchdown. Or something. I don’t know sports.

This becomes obvious every time we forget that my youngest daughter, once full of her meal, massages her food all over her hair, face, and clothes and saves some of it in hard-to-reach pockets of her booster seat to let it pickle.

The other night, after eating pho, my wife started cleaning our daughter, who was fighting for her right to sensorial to explore what a noodle feels like when used as a hair comb.

Justine asked me for a wet paper towel. I turned on the water and stood there. Justine, at the end of her wits, looked at me and shouted irritated, “Hey, there is no middle time. There is no hang!”

I was waiting for the water to warm up. But she thought I had spaced out.

She was standing over Amélie, restraining her hands with her best impression of a drill sergeant. And maybe it would’ve worked if I would’ve understood what the hell she meant.

Notice how what she said means nothing. She knows more sports than me, but clearly not that much.

Notice how that was almost a way to motivate me with sports lingo but doesn’t quite get there because there is no such thing as middle time or hang. What does that even mean?

I completed my paper towel pass and benched myself on the sidelines to figure out what my wife was trying to say.

I don’t have much time for it anyway because, I have not heard my oldest daughter for the last fifteen seconds, and silence, while desired in the household, is never a good sign.

Silence is the equivalent of the darkness of the night when you are sailing right before you are turned into unleavened bread.


Leave a Reply

Recent Articles

Discover more from Unequivocally Ambiguous

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading