Thursday, February 22, 2024

The exhausted dad: A 50-step high-five marathon

by TYLER WILSON/Coeur Voice Contributor
| March 1, 2023 1:00 AM

Putting my kids to bed each night takes forever, and it’s all my fault.

My two boys share a bedroom, and my two girls share a bedroom. After I spend 20+ minutes reading a story and singing songs to my youngest son, I travel across the hallway to the girls’ room, where my 7-year-old daughter insists on a variety of ridiculous routines.

It began with a simple ode to my dad (and his parents). When I was young, my dad said, “Don’t bite the bugs,” a variation of the common “Don’t let the bed bugs bite,” which was something his mom would say back when he was little.

I randomly said, “Don’t bite the bugs” to my daughter one night and it began a years-long descent into silliness. She requires me to say all sorts of nonsense now while tucking her in to bed.

The “goodnights” culminate with a series of “high-fives.” What started as a simple, four step-thing (“High-five!” “On the side!” “Up high!” “Down low!) has now become an exercise in light cardio and rote memorization (two things not suited for my aging lifestyle).

I have nobody to blame but myself for what came next. After doing the basic four-steps for a month, I got bored and added a step. Then I added another step. And another. The highs have reached so high we’re well outside of the galaxy now.

Anything I add to the steps, my daughter insists that it remain there, in the same order as before.

My oldest daughter, meanwhile, fuels the stress by constantly talking over the entire routine. She reads fun facts from a book or explains the note variations of the latest song she’s learned on her clarinet. She’s actively attempting to screw me up, all so her sister will request that I start over from the beginning.

Could I say no to starting over? Sure. But I don’t. Because apparently, I enjoy the suffering.

I now present the transcript of the routine in its entirety. It obviously loses much of its charm in written form. Just understand that I’m putting in a TON of physical labor here.

Stage A (standard edition): 1. High-five. 2. Up high. 3. Up higher. 4. On the side.

Stage B (side street extensions): 5. Up the road. 6. Down the street. 7. Laying by the lane. 8. Beside the boulevard. 9. Deep in the alley (lower than down low).

Stage C (Broad traffic extension): 10. On the rough, dirt, pothole-filled road (hand shaking everywhere) 11. Over the bridge (arcing over her head). 12. Through the tunnel (jabbing toward her stomach). 13. On the highway (two hands alternatively waving up and down). 14. On the freeway (two hands alternatively waving left to right and MUCH FASTER). 15. Around the cul-de-sac (one hand waving in a circle). 16. Circling the traffic circle (two hands waving in a circle).

Stage D (Extreme weather conditions): 17. Dodging the hail (my hands rain down on her with force, and she blocks the “hail” with her own hands). 18. Driving in the snow (Two hands up inching slowly toward her hands). 19. Sliding on the ice! (Upright hands sliding to the left).

Stage E (needless sound effects stage): 20. Backing up into the alleyway (Two hands up, and I take steps back while saying, “BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.”). 21. Sliding on the ice in the alleyway (Same deal, just faster and higher pitched “BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.”

Stage F (Flip side expansion pack — I turn around and perform all these “low-fives” behind my back): 22. Flip side. 23. Other flip side. 24. Double flip side. 25. Triples is best (two hands waving back and forth as to visually simulate a third hand). 26. Elevator flip side (Up and down). 27. Underneath my leg (requires a stretch my lower back does NOT enjoy). 28. Underneath my other leg.

Stage G (Earthbound elevation fun — reaching higher unless otherwise noted): 29. Up high. 30. Up higher. 31. Third highest mountain in the world (still haven’t looked this up). 32. Back down to the bottom of the ocean in a submarine (a little inversion of expectations — an extreme down low near the floor). 33. Mariana Trench (down low on the floor). 34. Back up to K2. 35. Mount Everest. 36. Jumping jack on Mount Everest (yep, I’m doing jumping jacks on this one).

Stage H (The Final Frontier): 37. Upper atmosphere where the bozo rich people go and pretend their astronauts but really it’s barely space and they should stop expecting the rest of the world to care about how they waste their money. 38. Real outer space. 39. To the moon! 40. Asteroid belt (waving my hand all over the place). 41. Jupiter (Two arms out like you’re moving in for a bear hug). 42. Rings of Saturn (same position as Jupiter but I do a 360 spin). 43. Little Rings of Uranus (same deal just slightly smaller). 44. Neptune (I do a lower voice for it). 45. Dwarf planet Pluto, or as what the cool kids call a totally regular planet and you scientists should all be ashamed for demoting it. 46. E.T. Phone Home (just a single finger across the room).

Stage I (Grand finale): I’m basically across the room now and she’s just giving me “air high-fives.” 47. Another galaxy (we posit that E.T. is from somewhere in our own galaxy). 48. Another galaxy outside another galaxy. 49. Another galaxy that’s outside another galaxy that’s outside another galaxy. 50. Back home through a Black hole, wooowoooowooowooowooo (me just waving my arms around as I reapproach my daughter’s bed). 51. Asteroid attack (Basically the same as No. 17 — Dodging the hail). 52. Giant asteroid (I come in for a hug with my entire body and she violently kicks me in the chest while laughing at me).

Then we do 53. Down Low, Too Slow and 54. Double Down Low, Too Slow. She’s not as fast as she thinks, so this takes another 20 minutes. And yes, by this point, it’s basically midnight.

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Tyler Wilson is a freelance writer, full-time student, and parent to four kids, ages 5-11. He is tired. He can be reached at