Adventures of the Little Man: Recursive nighttime conversations

Conversations that take place after tucking the Little Man into bed, usually around 8pm or so. Ordinarily this would require enough dialog to fill the script of a 40-minute television episode. Fortunately for you, I have found a way to abbreviate these conversation, and yet convey the–shall we say– frustration behind them. Call what follows conversation “A.” You’ll see why soon enough.

Conversation A:

Little Man (holding up 10 fingers): “Daddy, you come check on me in two minutes.”

Me: “Ten minutes.”

LM: “No, two minutes, Daddy. You check on me in two.” (He holds up 10 fingers again for emphasis. Maybe he means two hands?)

Me: “Okay, buddy, I’ll check on you in two minutes.”

LM: “And you don’t close doors.”

Me: “Nope, we’ll leave all the doors open. Goodnight, pal.”

LM: “Check on me in two.”

Me (walking down the hall): “Yes, in two…”

About a minute later…

Little Man comes walking into our bedroom. Call what follows Conversation B.

Conversation B:

LM: “Daddy, I need to go peepee in the potty.”

Me: “Okay, can you do it yourself or do you need some help?”

LM: “I’ll do it myself.” (Walks to the bathroom. Pauses.) “Daddy, you come help me.”

He finishes his business.

Me: “Good job, buddy. Now head back into bed.”

Consider what follows as Recursive Loop C

Recursive Loop C:

Repeat Conversation A here.

Repeat Conversation B here.

Repeat Recursive Loop C here until at least 40 minutes has elapsed or a stack overflow occurs1.

Mommy and Daddy finally go to sleep. Until, sometime in the “middle of the night2” Conversation D takes place:

Conversation D:

LM (Walking into our room dragging along his stuffed monkey and bear): “Daddy how come you don’t check on me.”

Me (or sometime, Kelly): “Come on, pal, climb back into bed.” Walk the Little Man back to his room.

Repeat Conversation A here.

Repeat Conversation B here.

Repeat Recursive Loop C here.

Attempt to sleep for anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours and then:

Repeat Conversation D here.

Those old shampoo instructions, Wash. Rinse. Repeat, have nothing on our recursive nighttime conversations.


  1. A stack overflow of this nature causes an Out of Patience error in object Daddy.
  2. Usually about 11:30pm

Published by Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Todd Rubin writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of publications including Analog, Clarkesworld, The Daily Beast, 99U, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies. He was featured in Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He has been blogging since 2005. By day, he manages software projects and occasionally writes code. He lives in Falls Church, Virginia with his wife and three children. Find him on Twitter at @jamietr.