Friday, February 6, 2009

That was then - this is now.

It’s 8:45 on a Thursday evening late January and I'm at my 10 year olds’ basketball practice scheduled to end at 9:30. At this same time, on any given evening, 37 years ago, my father would be relaxing on his Lazyboy recliner watching Peter Faulk as Columbo.

That was then - this is now.
Times have changed more than I would have ever imagined. Our kids are busier than I ever was. I got into sports when I was able to get myself to a sporting practice and home again. Back then, I’d grab my baseball mitt and thread the back strap through the handle bar of my bright green Schwinn String Ray (one gear, back pedal to brake and NO HELMET!!) and meet ‘the guys’ at ‘the field’ – the same place we’d meet every Saturday morning. No need for phone calls, text messages, IM’s or emails - there were no drop-offs or pick-ups – everyone just showed up.
Today, our kids start dance and sports at 3 years old. If they didn't, they’ll be at a disadvantage. Our 10 year olds’ soccer team has a coach, a couple of assistant coaches and – are you ready for this? – a TRAINER!! (You say: “Are you kidding me? They’re 10 years old!!”) Yep, I had the same reaction.

Years ago, if a pee-wee league existed, my parents didn't have the time, money or interest to register any of us. Today, our schedule of the kid’s activities after school and all weekend is very similar to most families with children - crazy.

When I was young, my father would walk through the door just about the same time every night - 5:30. Mom would have dinner ready so all he'd have to do is sit down at the table. We'd all eat and Dad would settle into his chair for the night while Mom cleaned up from dinner, gave baths and checked homework. Those were the night time activities - except, if Dad needed milk for his coffee in the morning, then my mother would pile all five of us into the station wagon and drive through Dairy Barn – Dad didn’t run errands or babysit, his day ended at 5pm. (Can you say Archie and Edith?)

As my son and I head home after his practice, it’s about 9:45pm and all I can think is - that was then, it certainly isn’t now.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A woman's work...

In true Paul Harvey fashion (, I thought I’d share “the other side of the story” regarding Dawn’s first business trip – alone. Last November, Dawn had a business trip to Williamsburg, Virginia while I stayed at home with the kids – four days and three nights. Needless to say, no house projects will be getting done this weekend! Before she left, Dawn had my itinerary all mapped out - where - when - why and how. All I needed to do is enter everything into my PDA which gives me an alarm 15 minues before I need to leave. I'm all set - this is going to be a piece of cake – hahaha!, yeh, right!

Thursday morning, we brought Dawn to the train - here we go!
Luckily, I can work remotely from home and didn't need to take any time off. Dawn made it even easier for me by doing food shopping - all I needed to do was make marinara sauce that would give me a couple of nights of pasta dinners.
Thursday night’s schedule was pretty tight - my son(chickie2) had soccer practice from 4:30 to 6pm and our oldest(chickie 1) would need to be at religion class from 7 to 8:30pm. This meant I would need to drop off chickie2 at soccer, go home, feed everybody else, go pick up chickie2, bring him home to eat quickly, get everyone back in the car, drop the chickie1 at church, go back home to give the chickie4 a bath, get back in the car and pickup at the church – now I see why her car is over the leased mileage limit. As we were leaving to pickup chickie1, I accidentally locked the house keys in the house. Dawn hasn't been gone for 12 hours and I've already locked us out! Luckily, chickie1 had her house key.

The next morning at breakfast, chickie3 said, "Day Two - Mommy's gone." Even though Dawn is hundreds of miles away, does not mean we can't still torment each other. I emailed Dawn a picture of chickie1 standing under the clock ready for school 5 minutes early - with a caption "How does he do it!?" Her response back was a picture of her room service breakfast, "Today, I am served!" Touché!

After dropping chickie4 and the boys at school, I had about 2 hours to get done as much work as possible before picking up chickie4. As fate would have it, I had a major proposal for my office due on Monday - I knew I had to squeeze it in between everything going on at home - great timing. I thought Friday would be an easy afternoon because of no athletic activities. Instead, I get a call from chickie1 right about the time she's to get on the bus at school to bring her home - she want's to go home with a girlfriend. No big deal, right? Wrong! This is a big deal, I don't normally make these decisions, I'm not prepared for this, I don't know this girl, I don't know if Dawn knows her mom - THIS IS NOT ON MY AGENDA! Ok, so I stuck my neck out and let her go - after speaking to the dad. This just added one more trip out with the gang to get chickie1 back home so she could get ready and we all get back in the car to bring her to the dance studio. She’s in there for an hour, so we stayed in the car and the kids all fell asleep while they were watching a movie.

Saturday morning - the grand finale! Before Dawn left, she told me to make sure the boys have their soccer uniforms - and I did. What she didn't say was anything about the other equipment they need - like shin guards. As we're about to leave, there's a mad search for chickie3's shin guards. So I ask " where are your shin guards?" "I don't know." "When did you use them last?" "I don't know." "When did you see them last?" "I don't know." At this point I made the irrational decision to call my wife - she'll know where they are - she knows everything! Big mistake. She saved my frantic voicemail message so I - and everyone else she played it for - can hear what a lunatic I am.

So, here's the schedule - I wanted to get out of the house by 8 am and stop for bagels, instead we were searching for equipment that was not put back where it should be. Chickie2 needs to be at the soccer field at 9:15 for a game that will start at 10 ending at 11am. Chickie3 needs to be at a different soccer field at 11:30 for an 11:45 game ending at 12:45. Chickie4 has to be at yet another field at 1:45 for her "game" (4 year old girls) that will end at 3pm. Taylor has dance from 3 to 5, so she will have to be left at the studio during chickie4's game. I feed everyone pizza between 1:00 - 1:15 and we were off again. WOW! I need to point out here that Dawn does this - EVERYDAY!
We all celebrated making it to Saturday night without a single trip to the hospital or any calls to missing persons, by having popcorn and watching a movie - AT HOME!

Sunday morning I woke to a mountain of laundry - oh no, better do something about that. Three loads of sheets and towels later, the mountain was a mere hill.
I had planned to get the house in some order this morning - it wasn't that bad, we were hardly home. But, the floors needed to be mopped and the boys room condemned. After the house was presentable we would pick up Dawn in Huntington where we would have dinner.
Dawn calls about 8:30am and is dreading the 7 hour train ride home, so she asks me to pick her up at Penn Station (that’s in the middle of Manhattan). I would have rather cleaned up and scrubbed toilets all day than drive into the city and back, which would have been at least 4 hours in the car. So, when I told chickie4 we had to get mommy in the city, she said "On the train?" - "No, by car." Then I thought for a minute and said "Yes, by the train - great idea!" The kids love the train - it would be fun. I checked the schedule and we could get into Penn Station 15 minutes before Dawn's train arrives and get on the LIRR to be back in Huntington by 6:15 for dinner as originally planned.
What a weekend! And that, my friends, is “the other side of the story”.
(Note to self – increase Dawn’s life insurance.)