I ran into a friend the other day who was kind enough to ask, “So, how’s it going with the kids?”
I pondered that a moment before replying. Long ago, I committed to answering such questions honestly. Thus, you are warned, Darke Countians: If you ask me “How are you doing?” I may respond with the atypical and potentially awkward, “Pretty lousy, actually. But thanks for asking.”
I pondered a moment longer. How IS it going with the kids? I mused. “Pretty good, all in all,” I replied. “But Krista and I are in that season where we’re constantly in the car taking kids to a practice or an appointment or an event, and then we go back home and start all over again. I feel like an Uber driver, but without the benefit of getting paid for my time and services.”
Yesterday, for instance, Abby was engaged in two performances of the play “Ella Enchanted.” (She had two on Saturday, and one on Friday night.) I had to drop her off around noon, picked her and a friend up around 3:30 to get them some “lunch,” dropped them back off, and picked her up again after her last performance—around 9:30 p.m. or so. Meanwhile, Luke needed to be dropped off at 11:00 a.m. for a baseball warm-up, which was followed by a noon-time game and a 2:00 p.m. pick up. Selfish beings that we are, Krista and I had a church-related small group meeting from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Daniel, our home-schooled, teen-aged, mildly-autistic-and-extremely-winsome-son, used to be relatively low-maintenance on this score. His swimming lesson and coach-pitch baseball days are behind him (“I’m retired, dad” he occasionally reminds me), and until recently that meant that we rarely needed to cart him to a scheduled event. No longer. He’s now involved in a weekly reading group which meets at the Coffee Pot and another gathering which meets regularly at Memorial Hall to discuss a variety of issues related to a variety of vocational, social, and emotional well-being. This is a wonderful development—but one which puts a new strain on our schedules, our organizational skills, and our automobiles. It seems likely that the number and variety of his outside commitments will increase—what then?!
A quick inspection of the interior of my car—which I’ve owned for less than a year, mind you—is revealing. Gum and candy wrappers are tucked away in door compartments and back seat pockets, an improvement over the days when the amigos were younger and haphazardly dropped them on the floor or seats or wherever it suited their latency-aged fancy. Dirt has already accumulated on the front passenger side floor, courtesy of Luke’s baseball cleats and the Greenville Citizen’s Baseball League field. An empty McDonald’s cup sits by its lonesome in the cup holder in the back seat, a lonely vestige of a hastily eaten meal consumed by Abby (singing related? Theater? Tennis?), I think, while being taxied from one appointment to another. Or was that from a lemonade purchased by Luke or his teammate on the way to the District Science Fair two weekends ago?
Please understand. I am not complaining. I’m glad the kids are relatively active. There are moments when I actually wish they were MORE so. But as far as I’m concerned, Abby’s official “I can drive an automobile around Greenville independently” days can’t get here fast enough.
Last night Krista briefly walked through the upcoming week with me, master calendar in hand. It’s a good thing she does this orally, because I can’t make heads-or-tails of her master calendar on my own. Illegible scribbles, cross-outs, arrows and circles everywhere. It obviously makes sense to her, but it looks like a Doctor’s script pad filled out in hieroglyphics to me.
“Tim,” she said at one stage, “Wednesday’s going to be a challenge. I work that day and obviously you work. I won’t get home ‘til 5:30, probably. Luke has an away scrimmage in Ansonia at 5:00. Abby needs to get to Edison State in Piqua for her entrance exam earlier in the afternoon. I think we can get grandma to take care of that. And Daniel and I have our monthly meeting at Memorial Hall at 6:00.”
“Umm, yeah, that’ll be a challenge all right,” I offered helpfully. Then I daydreamed of the halcyon days of 3:00 a.m. feedings, diaper changes, and well baby visits. “Maybe we can get an Uber to take Luke up to Ansonia….”
Timothy Swensen is the author of the column series Virtue and Mischief. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.