My first day of winter break from teaching greeted me with a writer's dream. An empty house, a fresh layer of undisturbed snow covering the lawn (that I should have mowed before winter) and the smell of coffee.

Where was my family? At their schools, which weren't on winter break until the next week.

Fellow parents will understand why I danced in the kitchen.

Oh, man, I was going to get so much done. Fix the 13-year-old's bedroom door so she can't become a hermit, go to the DMV, call the number on our new health insurance cards to let the automated voice know we received them (an unnecessary exercise of bureaucratic nonsense), deal with the phone company and, oh yeah, work on my next book – just after I check Twitter. It'll take two seconds, I promise.

Wait. Renewing my license feeds information into a computer database about what I drive. Registering our insurance cards feeds my family's information into a computer database about our health. Spending an hour on Twitter feeds my social media habits into a database. I feel I'm somehow helping make the takeover by our future robot overlords a bit easier.

Nevertheless, none of these chores or my justified paranoia were going to stop me from working on my new book. Just let me just check Twitter again. Oooh, a meme.

"Dad," a small voice said. It sounded close by. Am I starting to hear things?

Oh, and TV. I was going to watch loads of TV I can't watch while the kids are home. Inappropriate comedies, slasher movies, Bigfoot documentaries –

"Dad," the voice said again. I turned away from my computer to find our 5-year-old daughter looking at me with big brown eyes behind an explosion of messy hair.


"I'm hungry." She held up a plastic brachiosaurus. "And my dinosaur is hungry."

"Of course it is." I was still in a bit of shock. I'd forgotten she was on break, too. "A brachiosaurus had to eat an estimated 400 pounds of vegetation every day just to maintain its weight."

"Well," she said. "Mine needs toast. With jelly."

OK. Door repairs on hold. DMV on hold. Helping the robots take over on hold. Registering our health insurance cards, maybe. But, how will I get any writing done? Oh no. How will I check Twitter?

My options were limited. I could only justify letting such a small child with a spongy brain watch "Snow White" so many times. Was three too many? How about four?

I'd planned the next four weeks around my fingers on the keyboard. Now I needed to plan around the planning. I was going to write, right?

Two hours later.

"Dad," the Preschooler said. "You took off your tiara again. How are you going to play princesses without a tiara?"

"Princesses poop, you know."

I didn’t write that day.

She only watched "Snow White" once, but I spent those two hours on Twitter.

Jason Offutt’s newest book, “Chasing American Monsters: 251 Creatures, Cryptids, and Hairy Beasts,” is available at