Monthly Archives: November 2013

Firing On All Cylinders

cylindersWhy is it that on Thursdays, as a dad, I am firing on all cylinders?

I notice a distinct pattern that on Thursdays, I tend to make better parenting decisions and generally have an easier time of things with the kids.

To wit:

Before school and after school are the crush time in my world. There’s the a.m. nagging jag: get out of bed, make your beds, get dressed, eat breakfast, find your binder, look for your shoes and on and on and on. It’s getting better, however: they make their own lunches. I require some sort of protein plus bread (weekly peanut butter limit: 2 times), plus a choice of two from the available fruits and veggies, typically carrots, apples, bananas and grapes. They leave a mess, but they get it done. Afternoons involve more time, options and obligations, and that’s when things really start to go off the rails. Play with a friend or nag Dad for screen time? What’s for snack? What do you mean I can’t dump my backpack and shoes wherever I jolly well please? What’s for supper? Is there sports practice tonight? What complicated geopolitical questions can I pose while you drive through a traffic circle in a minivan with a bad right-side blind spot?

But today, as it does many Thursdays, it just went swimmingly. It helps that there’s no football practice for Eddie. (And after this weekend’s championship, no more three nights a week plus Saturday games.) Karla’s soccer ended a coupla weeks ago, and her ballet class is only on Saturdays. Nobody had any friends over, I knew what we were having for supper.

Somehow we had a decently healthy snack (crackers + grapes). Eddie hurried right to his math homework, and I managed to overlook that he left his snack bowl upside down on the living room floor. I even Eddie to read Karla her spelling words for the end-of-week pretest. (Why didn’t I think of conscripting him sooner?)

Then we had time to hit the library to stock up for the 700-mile-long car ride over the river and through the woods this weekend for Thanksgiving. Everybody had plenty of time to choose items to his heart’s content. (My rule: you can check out as much as you can carry. One time, Eddie checked out 44 books.) And they presented only mild protests when I kicked them off the stupid kiddie games on the library computers. It probably helped that instead of just shoving Karla toward the chapter books and sticking my nose back in the newspaper, I actually went with her to look and accepted a librarian’s offer to help find something she’d like.

I worried that I’d wreck things by staying at the library until 10 after 6, but the ace in my sleeve was that we were having leftover pizza from what we made on Tuesday. And I opted against squeezing in a bath — another day for that will do.

Toss in a glass of wine for Dad (conveniently already open and chilled), and it was just about a perfect day.

The thing I wonder is, why don’t more days turn out like this?

Why are there so many squabbles and so much mediation and punishment? Yelling and crying? Rushing and reminding 86 times until child x does task y. Sure, I had to tell Eddie three times to pour the milk and put it on the table, and Karla got sent away from the table twice for clowning around in favor of actually eating, but I managed not to lose my cool and actually hold on to some patience.

How is that?