Tuesday, October 27, 2009

There's Only 24 Hours in a Day

When I started my freshman year of college, I was forced to take a one unit orientation class. It had some new-agey name like "Connections". I was fresh out of the Navy, a Gulf War veteran, and, frankly, a know-it-all ass.

But there I was, with all the other incoming freshman.

One of the areas covered was time management. We needed to learn how to spend our time wisely so we wouldn't flunk out of school and be forced to join the military. I scoffed.

What did I need time management for? I was taking twelve units. My first class started at noon. I didn't have a job, a girlfriend, or a social life. I stayed up past midnight just so I wouldn't wake up too early.

In the Navy, there were only two rules for time management:

1. Show up on time.
2. Do what you're told.


That first semester in college I earned straight "A's". It was the first time I'd ever managed a four point oh.

The next semester I had a few more friends and a job. I earned two "A's" and two "B's". Uh-oh. Now I had a three point five.

I won't bore you with the details but the downward trend continued. Just between you and me, I'm lucky to have a college degree.

As a nearly forty-year-old adult with two small children, a time-consuming job, and a lovely wife, I need to manage my time wisely. I muddle through. I even keep a calendar now. But there are so many things that I should get done that don't.

There's activities and sports my children should be participating in. There are weekends I should be spending alone with Tabitha. There are projects around the house that need to be finished, not to mention the ones that need to be started.

I should have paid attention to the time management seminar.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


It's about eight o'clock as I sit down at the computer to write this. Tabitha is lying in bed reading one of the Harry Potter books. She's been in bed for about 15 minutes already. This is her usual routine (at least on my days off). She's an early to bed, early to rise kind of girl (only because of her alarm).

Abigail is downstairs watching the movie "Over the Hedge." She will come upstairs in about twenty minutes and tell me she is ready for bed. If she is really tired she'll say, "No story tonight" and she'll crawl into bed and fall instantly asleep. She usually wakes up with the sunrise.

Aidan is vacuuming downstairs. He's been vacuuming for the last hour. Pretty soon, I'll go downstairs and tell him it's time for his shower (he likes to shower now). He won't be happy. He'll want to watch his shows on TV. I'll insist he takes his shower and then I'll let him watch "Wow, Wow, Wubzy." He'll sit on the couch transfixed by the television. At about ten, I'll go downstairs, turn off the TV, and put him in his bed. He won't be happy about this either. He'll cry and complain and insist I read "two" stories for him. I'll agree to one. He'll insist he's not tired. He is. Eventually he will lie down and ask me to put his blankets on him.

And then the house will be quiet.

There was a time when I went to bed relatively early. My days of choosing to stay up late and getting up early are long in the past. Now, I have no choice.

I've been working the graveyard shift at the salt mine for over a year now. It has started to screw up my sleep cycle. I can't get to bed much before midnight. I'll lay in bed reading until about one o'clock. And then I'll shut off the light and try to get to sleep.


Sometimes I go to sleep quickly. Some nights I don't. When the alarm goes off at six o'clock, I'm not really ready to get out of bed. But I do.

For some reason, I have an overwhelming desire to take a nap at about noon.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I'm Watching You

When I was Aidan's age, my family lived in small town Indiana where my dad was attending seminary. My mom was busy caring for my two younger sisters and we didn't have a television. To keep me out of her hair, she would send me outside to play.


I can hear the gasps from here. Yep, my mom let her three-year-old son play outside without an adult watching his every move. Crazy!

And yet, somehow, I survived to be a semi-productive member of adult society. She had one rule for me when I went outside:

"Tell me where you are going."

Most of the spankings I received (perhaps a topic for another post) were because I failed to remember this one little rule. I would get so caught up in whatever I was doing that I would forget to go back and tell her what new location I had decamped to.

Amazingly I was never kidnapped.

These days, you are a bad parent if you let your children out of your sight for one moment. Bad things could happen. Your child could be kidnapped, molested, jumped into a gang, crash on his bicycle, given drugs, given candy, given non-organic food, given non-locally grown non-organic food.

The horror.

I think we, as parents, need to lighten up a little. Kids need some unsupervised time to themselves to figure out how things work. They need to learn how to negotiate with their friends without adult intervention. They need to learn that it's "okay" to fall down and skin their knees. They need to start to learn how to be independent.

Because seriously, I don't want to be taking care of my kids when they are in their forties.

They should be taking care of me.