Traverse City Record-Eagle

Feature Columnists

March 23, 2014

Nathan Payne: Karma strikes when you least expect

Parenthood can be like an open-handed slap to the face delivered by none other than karma itself. And somehow good old karma thinks I’m opportune target practice.

It struck once again early on a recent Sunday morning — 7 a.m. to be exact. I know the precise time because I awoke to my 6-year-old son, Spencer, his face and his green Lego Ninjago alarm clock less than an inch from the end of my nose.

He and my 2-year-old son, James, stalked silently into our bedroom and positioned themselves for a predawn strike like a pair of Navy SEALs. James, the sniper, perched himself on the bed within arm’s reach of his target.

They waited patiently while the minutes ticked away.

“Wake up, dad,” James blurted at the moment his hand connected with my bare flesh.

I shot upright, clutching both my face and my chest, disoriented and searching for my glasses. The sting of a slap from his meaty little paw burned my left cheek. Chubby toddler hands swung at the right speed sting about as much as a Singapore caning.

Spencer whispered an explanation for the rude awakening.

“It’s 7 a.m., dad,” Spencer said. “You said we could get up at 7 a.m.”

They correctly calculated that a violent raid against me was less likely to evoke a counter strike than laying sights on their mother. It’s probably a wise choice, one that works to the detriment of my cardiac health, but smart nonetheless.

The 4-foot-tall wake-up call was nothing more than two boys executing instructions to the letter. We previously commanded our little troops to stay in their bunks, no exceptions, until 7 a.m.

No fighting monsters. No early morning cartoons. No 3 a.m. shenanigans.

Apparently we omitted a few important details like: no beating, scaring or otherwise harming the parent you impolitely roust from bed.

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