Nothing says Winter like some long Summer days

It’s mid-March. That means a few noteworthy things.

Skunk mating season is winding down. If you don’t live in North America, this may not mean much to you. If you do live in North America, this may not mean much to you. If you live in the piece of North America where my house sits, this is a cause for celebration.

College Basketball – NCAA Championship Tournament. Even in a year when our team is expected to bow out quickly, this is the purpose of March.

Daylight Saving Time has begun. This is a lot like Groundhog Day, except instead of a rodent popping out of the ground, an obscure politician pops out of the woodwork to propose altering the practice of changing the clocks.

Some people love DST; some hate it. I don’t mind it, except for making it increasingly difficult to get the children to bed at a decent hour. Finally, our boys are old enough to go to bed all at the same time, without any fussing or crying. We just got the process perfected, and BOOM! – now it’s not dark at bedtime. It’s not bad so far because it’s almost dark. It’ll get more difficult every day.

Some have suggested hanging blackout curtains in the boys’ room. I was hoping to wait until I heard Zeppelin engines overhead before I invested in blackout paraphernalia. Speaking of the Germans, they were the first to institute DST. In WWI it was enacted to help their war effort.

Douse that sunlight! Here come the Zeppelins!

The Allies quickly glommed on, because in the early 19th century, when the Germans had an idea about making better war, you copied it.

Despite Daylight Saving Time’s success in helping Germany win the war, we eventually made it permanent.

“Here’s my fiendish plan: we trick them into setting their clocks ahead; their children won’t go to bed; that’s when we hit them!”

Blackout curtains might work if the boys lived in their room all the time. They don’t. They live in the entire house, where there are several windows. Even if their room is pitch black, they know in their little hearts it’s not dark outside. Therefore, this supposed bed time is a dirty fraud.

“Now children, we must all go to sleep for the war effort.”

It probably sounds like I’m complaining about DST, but I’m not. I like long summer days as well as the next guy whose kids don’t have school in the morning. What I’m complaining about is DST beginning in winter. There’s no good reason for this. I won’t see anybody dining al fresco tonight in spite of the natural light at dinner time.

DST used to start in late April, when it made sense to start it. By then you had earned extra daylight and the weather allowed you to enjoy it. The reassignment of light and dark wasn’t such a shock to the system. It had none of the folly of attempting to jump from February into May.

I think returning to an April start for DST would be a good compromise, but I’m not an obscure politician, so I guess I’ll keep my notions between myself and my closest Internet friends.


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 Saving 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?


. . . 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 Saving 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 Saving Time?

Lightning Boy, a.k.a. Kid Molasses

Every time I want to sit down for a minute, my son transforms into a loud and demanding body of energy. “Daddy, build a train track for me. Daddy, let’s go ride my bike. Daddy, I need some juice. Daddy, get down on the floor so I can ride you like a horse. Daddy, tell me everything I just asked you. I forgot some of them.”

As soon as I try to sit down for a minute he turns into this blur of unlimited energy. The only way to slow him down now is to ask him to perform a specific task. But that could shut him off altogether.

So why should it be so surprising that every time I need him to do something, he automatically switches into super-slow gear? It’s not surprising. I’ve been at this game long enough to know just what to expect.

Of course, he’s going to drag his feet when asked to do something he doesn’t want to do. Getting ready for bed is the prime example. He crawls up the stairs like a commando – one who has been shot in both legs. He carefully inspects the potty to make sure it is a worthy receptacle for his pee. He unscrews the toothpaste cap as if it were rusted tight from years of disuse. His nightlight, pajamas, pillow, and 18 blankets must be perfectly arranged. This takes a certain amount of dedication, and a larger amount of time.

I don’t begrudge his efforts to put off bedtime. That plan makes perfect sense. What tries my patience is his pokiness in doing things he enjoys. Going to the park is great fun. There are two things he must do before leaving the house. He must go pee and put on his shoes. It has been this way for the balance of his lifetime, and yet . . .

No matter where he is in the house, there are two dozen distractions between him and the potty. His shoes are in the exact same place they were yesterday, and the day before that, but he’ll be damned if he can find them. Getting them onto his feet is the easy part, if you are willing to pretend with him that he doesn’t know which shoe goes on which foot. This, I remind you, is an outing for which he is most eager.

Does he know his shoes are on the wrong feet? Absolutely. Does he care? That depends on whether or not anybody thinks it was clever to have put them on the wrong feet.

Likewise, you might expect him to dance around his plate when served a food he doesn’t like. But why must he restrict himself to three bites per hour of his favorite meals? He only likes to use one prong of his fork at a time. We have to start him early on dinner if we don’t want to leave him sitting alone into the night. The only food he will chew at a normal rate is shrimp tempura, which Daddy cannot afford to supply every time there is something to do after lunch.

It can get tiring, shepherding him through his slow-motion routines. After a while, Daddy needs to sit down. There must be a switch in the cushions of the sofa that turns the boy’s juice back up to full blast. It works every time: “Daddy, you have to chase me. Daddy, let’s play in the sprinkler. Daddy . . .”