Sometimes I feel at odds with the whole world, in ways large and small.

They sell toothpaste now in these great little containers. It’s revolutionary, no gross mis-squeezed tubes, just a simple, easy-to-use bottle. But a trip to Target reveals that almost nobody in the consumer universe agrees with me. The oldstyle tubes in boxes take up more and more shelf space, while the bottles that seemed to me so promising dwindle, surely facing extinction. I resist the urge to horde.

Also, the price of gas is down, and I read that guzzling cars are surging in popularity. I find this shocking. Who are these people? Can’t they remember the last several energy crises? Don’t they… ugh.

I could go on about the larger world, but closer to home, the kids are yearning for more independence. This, I’m told, is a sign of secure attachment. I’m supposed to feel proud when the ungrateful beasts cry out to be free of me at every turn. “Not daddy!” is their chant.

I do not like this. It’s not fun seeing my defiant little 6-year-old prove me wrong—dad! you totally can get all the way up the down escalator!—in front of hundreds of harried shoppers at the Westfield Mall. Why, they must wonder, does that man’s cute little son want to run away so badly? At least that’s what I wonder.

I do not enjoy the pained faces of fellow shoppers in Trader Joe’s, furtively watching what I’ll do when the little one melts down, shrieking about what I promised. What is unfair. They never get anything nice. My 9 year old fixes me with a dark stare and says, quite audibly, “Well, you are mean to us a lot you know, daddy.”

Ugh. Maybe not mean enough?

Despite my desire to punish them, we take them instead to see the lights at the Oakland Zoo. It’s freezing, and corny. You can’t not stare at the twinkles. When we get home my little man  is deep asleep, and I carry him up to bed.

It’s day 4 of our 17 day winter school break.

We can’t be the only family daunted by this. Wondering if this dark will go on endlessly, mercilessly, colder and colder, or if at some point the world might start to return toward the light. Maybe even tomorrow.

It seems absurd to hope for such a thing, yet we need it so much. Some little glint urges me not to give up. Not quite yet.