“Dad! NO! I’m electrocuted, YOU’RE POISONED!” Like a morning splash of cold water to kick start consciousness I am thrown from the deep haze omitted from my Three Year Old’s imagination. How long have I played pawn to this world? Humid light seeps onto the floor that is ever so conveniently lava when it needs to be. When my legs have nothing left. It’s night time now. I’m almost there. Countless robots defeated and evil plans thwarted have earned me the dream of a briefest moment of respite. Without thought I exclaim with deep regret, “it’s bedtime bud.” Before the words complete themselves I am met by the most familiar of foe. “No, I hate going to bed.” Yeah no shit kid, I soldier on “Daddy’s tired it’s time for bed.” A man with weaker conscience would have just as easily tossed the kid an iPad. Mine weighs as heavy as it did at the beginning. The loneliest night of my life. The first night after assuming my new role as single father, protector of the fragile realm of which is my offspring’s well being. Steel thrown into fire, forged with sleep deprivation, self sacrifice and little to no gratitude. Still I rise, day by day. Yet, I find myself in laborious battle. The Prince has reluctantly retired his crown for the night and I have been tasked with picking up the living room. A daily, damn near hourly occurrence. Toy after toy goes into the box. Surgically now I’m playing minesweeper in real life. Strategically placing trigger devices into the Toy Box of Horrors. One false move and it’s like cutting the wrong wire, the red wire. Or was it the blue one? I pause briefly to catch my breath, assess my effort and gauge my volume control. The last toy goes in and I turn heel and float to my sanctuary. My bed as welcoming as ever. The burden begins to give way to my eye lids and I fall deep into nirvana. As I slip away the silence is so glorious it’s almost unbelievable. Maybe I’m doing a good job. Maybe everything will be ok. Suddenly it’s broken by a pitter patter and the creak of floor boards outside my bedroom door. I take a breath and murmur “God Damnit”.