09/20/2012 11:55 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Shoes Rule: Trying to Keep Your Kid Awake in the Car

When I was in college, we had the 'Shoes Rule,' which was simple.

If you got hammered and passed out with your shoes on, you opened yourself up for a permanent marker beard or being duct-taped to the chair. If you had the frame of mind to untie those Hush Puppies and place them neatly at your side or even muster up the dexterity to nail the 'toe-to-heel pop-off,' you were golden. You could keep your eyebrows and not spend the next morning scrubbing a penis and balls off your nose and cheeks before your cultural anthropology exam.

Living in a fraternity house, I was a constant witness (and potentially victim) to the 'shoes rule.' As fun as the idea seemed to harass someone who went into a flat spin on an eight dollar bottle of Black Velvet whiskey, there was always Mom sitting on my shoulder and reminding me to 'treat others as you'd like to be treated.'

So my moral compass always prompted me to try and help those less fortunate, the mumblers with noodle legs who circled the chapter room sofa like a plane burning fuel before a crash landing. Without coming off like a double-agent to my brothers, I'd make violent noises to keep them awake or try and coax them out of an embarrassing public scenario.

It's funny how fifteen years later, I'm still doing the same thing. Although this time it's not for anyone's benefit but my own.

I've been fortunate over the last few weeks to have synchronized my kids so that they take an afternoon nap at the same time. This is important to me.

If I'm at home every day with two toddlers for 10+ hours, you can bet your sweet ass that having an hour or so to myself after lunchtime is more valuable than pretty much anything you can shove in front of my face.

Normally I schedule my day so that I'm home well before 'rack time,' but last week I cut it close. It took longer than normal to do the grocery shopping and with only a few miles to go before the house, in the rear-view mirror, I could see the vacant look in Charlie's eyes.


The dude was fading quick and with Ava at school, I was all alone.

The car swerved in and out of lanes as I swatted at his feet from the front seat. I grabbed a hold of his leg and then arm, shaking them and screaming his name like a psychopath, but he was a rag doll. I tried the stereo, but no surprise, one of John Mayer's whiny ballads wasn't having any effect. I switched to the Fresh Beat Band and a surge of alarm went through his body. His eyes opened and he seemed startled, but more importantly awake.

I pushed the pedal to the metal and let the horses roar, trying to get home lickety-split, but the State of Maryland made it impossible with a speed camera mounted on every damn stoplight and bird perch in the effing neighborhood. I was forced to roll through our community at a soothing twenty-five miles per hour. The perfect speed to nod off.

Once again his head was bobbing, he was on the ropes, the eyes were heavy and just as I was about to rattle off another disturbing rooster cackle, I noticed that he'd KICKED HIS SHOES OFF.

Holy shit. How did he know about this? Who tipped him off?

I was stymied.

He couldn't hang and he knew it. He had to crash. And I had to look the other way. Because of bro code.

Last week, a set of size 3's and some vintage bro code screwed me out of a quiet hour with a Celeste Pizza-for-one and Sportscenter. Because once he goes to sleep, even if it's only for five minutes... there won't be ANY nap at home.

Next time, we're running errands barefoot.

This post originally appeared on "Dad Or Alive"