When you are a Sad Dad, one of the things you spend the most time pining for—after, like, an actual grown-up date with your spouse, a window of more than five minutes in which to take a shower, and relief from the constant background awareness of your own bottomless inadequacy—is some damn peace and quiet. "Can we have some damn peace and quiet around here?" you are constantly muttering to yourself, and then sometimes bellowing to no one in particular, Dad-like, irrelevant, a demented buffalo lowing at grass for no reason and to no effect.
You are always aware of the next possible parcel of peace and quiet, over the horizon. On Thursday, [Spouse] is taking the kids to see that movie, and I will have some damn peace and quiet around here. I will sit in my underwear and watch a sports contest and play the guitar tunelessly and it will redeem everything that came before it. These are the little joys in the Dad Life. I mean your kids are "little joys," too, but the packets of peace and quiet are a different kind of little joy, a kind that does not ever sneeze directly into your laughing mouth.
Not all periods of peace and quiet are equal, though. Some of them are better than others. Here, the Dads of Deadspin have ranked times of day to have some damn peace and quiet around here.
1. From 8 to 10 p.m.
This is the best time to have some damn peace and quiet around here. The exciting sports contest/popular prestige television series is on, your spouse is still wakeful and possibly not totally cranky and fried, and you're not exhausted quite yet. It's the peak of the evening, when you can engage with stuff as it's happening, instead of doing the usual Sad Dad thing where you read about it or watch a recording of it later and try to convince yourself that that's not a deeply sad way to relate to the rest of the grown-up human race. And, if you did a good job with the previous block of the day and sent the kids to bed happy and well-fed, you really feel like you earned this peace and quiet. This is the good stuff. High-quality peace and quiet.
2. From 6 to 8 a.m.
Peace and quiet from six to eight in the morning means your kids slept in. And let me tell you, that is goddamn heaven. When my kids were still babies, they'd randomly sleep in maybe once every couple of months, and I'd wake up on my own at like 7:30 and be completely disoriented. Were they kidnapped? Did we never have them in the first place? And then I'd spend like five whole minutes frozen in place, certain that if I moved, they'd detect the change in air pressure and wake up and start squealing. Better to remain frozen in place, drowsy and warm and content, forever. This is reeeeeally good peace and quiet.
3. From 2 to 4 p.m.
It's hard as hell to get some damn peace and quiet during this stretch of the day, because the kids are home from school, and you might have to start thinking about what you're going to do for dinner if it's not gonna be some last-minute thrown-together bullshit. But, if the stars align and you can get it, this is an excellent time for some damn peace and quiet, because: naps! Oh man, this is a great time of day to take a Dad Nap. Recharge the ol' Dad Batteries. Particularly in the summer, if you have a Dad Hammock.
4. From noon to 2 p.m.
Sneaky-good time for some damn peace and quiet around here. The sun is out, the kids are in school, it's early enough that you can keep drinking coffee without worrying that it'll keep you up all night, and you can make yourself a Dad Sandwich (this is like a regular sandwich, only with a couple thick slices of that one good tomato that you stashed away under the bananas so your spouse wouldn't take it) for lunch. You get tomato juice all over your shirt and it's great, just great. If you work from home, this is a good time to be productive, before the Dad Sandwich makes you sleepy.
5. From 10 a.m. to noon
This is good for many of the same reasons, the only drawback being that it's too early for a Dad Sandwich.
6. From 10 p.m. to midnight
To the non-Dad, this might seem like a good time for some damn peace and quiet around here: The serious grown-up shit is on TV during this time, after all. But, as a Sad Dad, by 10 p.m. you're pretty well worn out, so even if you don't admit defeat and trudge up to bed like a big sack of crap, you're probably not gonna make much use of these hours. Mostly you'll just stare, glazed, at a screen, and struggle to comprehend what you see on it. This is cheap and readily available peace and quiet, but it's lower-grade than the earlier stuff.
7. From 8 to 10 a.m.
Eh, this is OK. It's good to have some peace and quiet during these hours, because you need it, because you're still waking up, but you're not gonna do much good with it. Maybe you'll read the paper. That's a super Dad thing to do.
8. From 4 to 6 p.m.
Weird time of day for peace and quiet. It's nice to not be stuck in commuter hell during these hours, but it's also weird not to have your family around. It's too late in the day to get any work done, but it's also too early in the day to sit around in your underwear and have a few drinks. Plus, this is the time in the afternoon when the internet dies because all the youths who make it are on their way home to get ready for their cool molly parties.
9. From 4 to 6 a.m.
This is peace and quiet you mostly appreciate in its absence. Which is to say that, if you are awake and dealing with your kids during this period of time, it's worse than death. Wayyyy worse. Peace and quiet is the default from 4 to 6 in the morning.
10. From midnight to 2 a.m.
Similar to the 10-to-midnight stretch, above, but even more degraded and shitty. You're basically incoherent during these hours. There's no reason to be awake during this stretch of time unless you're making a grim principled grab at wringing out some extra minutes of lousy F-grade solitude for yourself. Plus, the peace and quiet you get from midnight to 2 a.m. is overshadowed by your knowledge that you're gonna pay for it in the morning.
11. From 6 to 8 p.m.
This seems like it'd be a good time for some peace and quiet, but that's only because this usually is the most raucous and overwhelming part of the day, so it's the time of day when you grumble the most about the need for some damn peace and quiet around here. But actually, this is the prime time for being an Adequate Dad: You can have the kids help you make dinner, talk to 'em about their day while you eat, goof off with them afterward, get 'em ready for bed, and send 'em off to sleep on a high note. And then you feel like you earned your peace and quiet.
When you get peace and quiet during this part of the day, mostly you just feel weird and lonely and bereft, and that makes you think about how wrapped up your life is with your kids' lives, and how, like, you're as dependent upon them as they are upon you, and then you feel like a selfish creep for wanting peace and quiet when you should have been acting like a Good Dad. Bad time of day for peace and quiet.
12. Being hit by a car
Lots of peace and quiet in the graveyard, man. All you could ever want.
13. From 2 to 4 a.m.
Worst time of day for peace and quiet. Only Meth Dads make a grab at 3 a.m. peace and quiet. Don't be a Meth Dad.
Art by Sam Woolley