Let’s just move to Alaska so we don’t have to go to bed at all

It’s hard not to want to welcome the arrival of spring. This is especially true since my winters hold a lot less skiing than they used to and a lot more shoveling. Now that winter is more about searching for lost mittens than a quiet trail through a beautiful woods, there’s not much left to recommend it.

If there is one thing that has begun to lean in winter’s favor, it is winter’s lack of Daylight Savings Time.

DST used to be a good thing. It used to let carefree, childless me play outside after work. It used to lend itself to pleasant evenings in open-air seating with friends, food, and spirits.

Now, all DST does is convince children it can’t possibly be time to go to bed. We spent all their lives training them to sleep at night, and now demand they go to bed in the middle of the afternoon.

Lets screw parents everywhere!

Can you believe people actually wrote to Congress asking them to prevent me from having a quiet moment to myself at night?

This time of year is enough trouble without DST, but why settle for a little trouble when we can have a lot?

Nobody told the sun school is still in session. He stays up late, mocking children who have to go to bed before him.

Big Brother understands DST and the growing days of spring, but it still makes him angry. It’s darker when we wake him up than when he goes to bed. That must be why he prefers morning sleep.

A few short months ago, Buster and Big Man (formerly New Baby) were checked out by 8. Now, 10 o’clock is a good night. They can’t tell time, but they know when they can still see the colors of things outside. Day means play.

Congress must be eager to add more playtime to their days after work, the way they’ve kept spreading DST out over the calendar, but don’t those guys pretty much come and go as they please anyway?

They say it helps farmers, which is something I might buy if there were more than three family farms left. Aren’t all the farms owned by G.E. or some similar giant corporation? Can’t they just manufacture bigger light bulbs to use in the corn field factory?

Defeat!

. . . because you won’t have a minute alone with your wife until November. (Sorry. Couldn’t resist.)

Of all parental responsibilities, putting kids to bed is one of my top 1,000 least favorite. You know what, kids? I have work in the morning, which means I have to go to bed at a reasonable hour, which means every second you resist sleep is a second taken from the only precious little chunk of down time I’m getting today. So don’t look at the sun, or any of the natural time cues you recognize; look at the clock, that man-made fabrication dictating our lives and begging, nay commanding, you to go to sleep so I can have a quiet cup of tea, or during these rough nights of Daylight Savings Time, scotch.

On the other hand, I don’t relish the idea of them getting up at 4:30 a.m., so can I get three cheers for that wonderful sunrise delayer known as Daylight Savings Time?

What Mommy does

Big Man (formerly New Baby) – Age 1

Big Man

Big Man’s Tunnel of Love.

Mommy feeds me and keeps me clean, but those aren’t the most important things she does. Hell, even Daddy can do that, although clean becomes a relative term when he’s in charge. Mommy is a part of me like no one else in the world is a part of me. Mommy makes everything better just by coming near. She makes me feel safe and comfortable.  She’s warmer than anybody else. Her heart beats the perfect time and her skin smells like love.

When Mommy picks me up, clouds part and the sun shines from her eyes. In her glow, I am never alone. Even when I walk around a corner and can’t see her, she can see me. She sees me with her heart and she will come in an instant if her heart tells her I need her. Mommy knows my worries and my fears. Whatever the trouble, Mommy makes it right.

Buster – Age 3

Buster

Buster’s crown of patience.

Mommy listens to me. I have trouble saying some sounds, so big people can’t always understand my words. Sometimes Mommy can’t understand everything I say, but she always listens. And she always responds. She knows I have the words, but my tongue can’t always say them. She doesn’t always figure out my words, but she knows what I mean. She knows because she’s Mommy.

She understands my words perfectly when I tell her, “I love you, Mommy.” Those words are easy.

Mommy’s patient. She’s teaching me how to use the potty. Daddy would let me wear diapers until I could read an instructional manual on potty training. Mommy makes me feel proud to use the potty, even though I’m still a little shy about it. She doesn’t give up because I had an accident. She brings me dry underwear, and then everything’s okay again. Mommy makes it right.

Big Brother – Age 6

Big Brother

Big Brother’s appliance of helpful goodness.

Mommy makes me do things I don’t feel like doing. She makes me do my homework before play. She makes me practice math and spelling. She makes me take baths and clean up my messes. She makes me write thank-you notes and letters to apologize to my teacher when I’ve misbehaved in school. Daddy makes me do difficult things too, but he forgets about my homework sometimes and I don’t think he knows what a thank-you note is.

I sometimes get upset about all the things Mommy makes me do, but it doesn’t last long. Deep down, I know why she makes me do them, and I’m glad I have somebody like that. She makes me do these things because she cares. She wants me to be good. I want to be good too, but sometimes it’s hard and I need help.

Daddy says he wants me to be a good man one day. I’m not really sure how to do that. Mommy wants me to be a good boy, right now. That, I understand. Even though I sometimes stray from being a good boy, I know there’s always somebody to help me get back on track, because Mommy makes it right.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy! We love you so much! Thanks for always making it right.

Three boys at play vs. a natural disaster: who can tell the difference?

Back when I was a fresh college graduate, and lived in that special, naïve bubble that only fresh college graduates inhabit, I took my shiny Telecommunications – Emphasis in Video Production degree to Los Angeles. I had done well in school, so I would certainly be directing The Tonight Show within the blink of an eye.

I learned a lot in L.A. I saw things that were an eyeful, and then some, for a callow country boy. But the most important thing I learned was that I was unemployable there in my chosen field. Somebody with the authority to say so was kind of enough to tell me that straight out.

Consequently, I began my post-collegiate career making minimum wage in the mall. A few months later, I landed an office temp job. After the mall, it felt like I had made it to the Big Time.

Lost cause

The plastic furniture of our dinner table. Many a forlorn resume was spawned at this table.

One day, when I still worked at the mall, I pulled my little car into the bank drive-through, no doubt to withdraw my last $10 so I could buy my next supply of peanut butter and bread. My car began throbbing and shaking. Having no money for repairs, I was relieved when it recovered itself. It seemed okay on the way home, allowing me to hope its mysterious ailment could be managed on the cheap.

At home, I turned on the TV and sat on the stack of foam egg crates my roommate and I used as a couch. There was a Special Report on TV about the earthquake the city had just experienced. As I watched footage of smashed pasta sauce jars in a local grocery, I realized what I felt at the bank was an earthquake. I was ecstatic. It wasn’t anything serious, like car trouble; it was only an earthquake.

It was a mild quake by California standards. The “World Series” quake in San Francisco a few weeks later proved that. I felt only minor rumbles during the year it took me to decide to tuck my tail and make the long road trip home.

Now I live where quakes are rare. My Telecommunications – Emphasis in Video Production degree is as useful now as it was then. I’ll never direct The Tonight Show, but that’s okay; I’m where I’m supposed to be. I’ve got three awesome boys, and I get to spend lots of time with them because I’m not cooped up to all hours in production meetings.

And when we have that rare tremor, like we had last Saturday, do I worry about my car? Not at all. After the house thumped and the walls rattled for all of three seconds, I marched into the room where the boys were playing and yelled at them to leave whatever piece of the house they were destroying alone.

Trouble brewing

Most of our earthquakes begin with a little harmless wrestling.

We don’t have earthquakes here. Why wouldn’t I yell at them?

P.S. Sorry I blamed you for the earthquake, boys.

The great, golden ecdysiast in the sky

Saturday was our university’s spring football game. They divide the team in two and have an open scrimmage in the stadium. It’s not a nail-biter as far as sporting events go, but it’s getting to be a big event. It’s free and some universities bring in upwards of 100,000 fans. Ours was closer to 50,000 fans.

We weren’t among them. We were at a more important game: the second game of the first-grade spring soccer season.

I like watching Big Brother play soccer. He may not be headed for a professional career, but he likes playing. Watching him celebrate when a teammate scores a goal is worth the price of admission.

The price of admission is herding him and his brothers to the car and getting to the field on time. Not always an easy price.

New Baby fell asleep on the way, so Mommy stayed in the car with him. I spent the first half carrying Buster, so he wouldn’t run off to the adjacent playground.

It was a good game; everybody was into the action. Then Buster pointed to a small plane in the distance. As the plane neared, we could see it was trailing an advertising banner.  Buster had never seen this before, so it captured his attention. He pointed to the banner and asked what it was.

I started to explain, then lost my words as I realized the banner was advertising a local “Gentlemen’s Club.” The blonde girl-next-door-type, flapping in the wind at 1000 feet, stood next to the all-caps “SHOWGIRLS” declaration.

One by one, people began to look up. Coaches began smiling at each other. The game slowed down until it crawled to a virtual stop.

grounded stripper

Just imagine what Nettie might have accomplished behind an airplane. She was a victim of her own era.

The plane passed over and the enchanting lady in the sky diminished in our sight until she almost seemed merely two-dimensional. Buster told me the plane was going away and wasn’t coming back. He was right.

I’m glad Big Brother was in the game; otherwise I would have had to explain what a showgirl is. Buster can’t read, so all he saw was a plane pulling a big piece of paper. And that was enough.

The promotion couldn’t have been for us. Some of us are too innocent for that sort of thing, and the rest get their allowances mostly in quarters. I’m not sure how SHOWGIRLS feel about being tipped with change. Maybe if you warm it up sufficiently first, it’s all right, but I’d bet they prefer paper money.

I figured we were between the spring football game and the airfield. Otherwise, this advertiser wasn’t getting much bang for his buck. It was an inspiring message though; Big Brother scored a goal soon after. This is something he rarely does when not encouraged by heavenly blondes.

Buster had seen an airplane, and that was all he was going to get out of the game. He dragged me off to the playground for the second half. Meanwhile, Mommy slept in the car with New Baby and the iPhone. Nobody even got a picture of the pretty woman flying through the sky.