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Monday, November 06, 2006

A Day in the Life

In order to ensure confidentiality I will use the following legend:

Dad: #1
Daughter one: A
Daughter two: B
Son: C
Dog: Dog

I visited one of my oldest friends over the weekend. I got a taste for the family life. I’ll try to chronicle it as well as I can. Hanging out with his great kids was sometimes fairly hectic and always thoroughly entertaining. The day was a little like juggling chain saws but with a few juice boxes thrown into the mix.

Saturday Morning:

We all get up early. I take the dog out and let him run loose in front of the house. It’s quite cold outside and the dog is as anxious to get back inside as I am. I drink a cup of coffee and read a magazine on the couch. It is all quite relaxing until my friend comes downstairs and announces that the Saturday express will be rolling out in ten minutes. I’ll have to take a shower when we get back. I put my coffee in a travel mug and jump on board as we pull out. The pace for the rest of the day is like a high-speed chase scene in a thriller. Just for fun I lean out the window and shoot a pistol at cars behind us.

#1 doesn’t wear his seat belt so an alarm beeps for about twenty seconds every time we get in the car. This becomes a running joke for the entire weekend. I start off with a mildly sarcastic observation, “Don’t worry, it turns off after annoying the living crap out of everyone.” At one point I get the kids on my side and we all make annoying noises of our own until it stops beeping. #1 is immune to the “fight fire with fire” approach. Besides not wearing a seatbelt, #1 also engages in other at-risk behavior while driving. He text messages and talks on his cell phone, reads from a pile of mail cluttered on the dash board, changes CD’s in the stereo, turns around to discipline the children, and drives like a NASCAR veteran who is delivering a transplant organ. He is, without a doubt, the best driver I have ever known.

His knowledge of side streets and short cuts would put any mapping software to shame. He is like a shark that cannot stop moving. If the light turns red he will turn right and find an alternate route. His mood is cheerful and never once does he display symptoms that in any way approach road rage. In this world, driving is preferable to idling, even if the short cut takes longer. Driving becomes a sort of game, a game that #1 always seems to win.

The traffic everywhere out in suburbia is heavy and intense. People drive fast because they have such great distances to cover, anything less than full speed means spending even more time behind the wheel. We spend enough time in the car on this day to use more than one tank of gas. #1 also has a great new car. I’ve never been a fan of cars but if you live in this environment a top-notch vehicle is probably a requirement. His kids know the lyrics to all of the songs in the CD player from spending so much time being shuttled back and forth to activities. The kids fight over the music but they often find common ground and then they all sing along together in the back seat. They are like the Van Trapp family from The Sound of Music but in athletic gear.

I get the kids to play games in the car as we drive. We try to find nail parlors. There are enough to keep us busy. B gets extra credit for finding a nail place that is also a tanning salon. That wasn’t in the rules but it just seems right to give extra credit for a nail place that also offers another beauty treatment. I also suggest that whenever anyone talks they must do so to the tune of The Star Spangled Banner. C performs well at this game but the others veto the exercise.

Our first stop this morning is a soccer game for B. #1 screeches to a halt and B falls out of the car and scurries to the field where her game is scheduled. Next we drop off A at an adjacent field for her soccer practice. #1 then finds a parking spot as close as possible to the B’s field. #1, C, and I take along a football to keep us entertained during B’s game. Game over, back to the car, pick up A from practice, and on to the bookstore.

Frequent trips to the bookstore are obviously an integral part of life for the kids as they are all familiar with the store’s layout. As we pass through the doors A, B, and C scatter to their respective enclaves of literature. A reads university-level stuff, B favors thick tomes of fantasy literature, and C reads smart aleck-in-training texts: joke books, riddles, and graphic novels. Within minutes we are at the checkout counter and on our way again.

After lunch and a few minutes of down time, B, C, and I go for a bike ride. Back home and then on to C’s football game at the same huge complex where we went for soccer in the morning. We drop off C for his pre-game practice and then head out to the mega-store to pick up some sort of weird toy that C needs for a birthday party he has after his game. Evidently, C was given rather explicit instructions by the birthday boy on the present he is supposed to offer up. It is some kind of robot Leggo-esque thingie. I ask C if we can get a Barbie instead. NO. Kids have no sense of humor when it comes to robot Leggo-esque thingies.

Shopping for a birthday present while C is practicing is the kind of multi-tasking that seems to be required for survival in this harsh environment. We get back to the field for the start of C’s game. Watching nine-year-old kids play football is more cute than anything. It's as if they don't possess enough gravitational pull to actually make tackles.  His team wins 2-0 on a safety. I overhear one of the kids exclaim, “We slaughtered them!”

Back home and C takes a shower (or maybe not). He changes into his costume (Scream character) as A wraps the gift. #1 drives C to the party while I start to cook dinner. The logistics of this day are something along the lines of a space shuttle launch.

Cooking for kids means that you have to find out what they will and will not eat and then tricking them into eating it anyway. They give you their dietary restrictions and then you find loopholes. B says that she doesn’t like cheese on her pasta so I incorporate Parmesan into the sauce. B finds this to be acceptable. I think that the kids are a little fussy about their food and then I remember that many of my friends are vegetarians, some are even vegans. There is nothing fussier than being a vegan.

At the party C won a certificate exclaiming that he had the scariest costume. I tell #1 that no matter what happens to C in this life they can never take that away from him. I never won scariest costume and look what happened to me. I think everything started to go downhill for me the day I didn't win that damn award.

1 comment:

  1. John,

    You, without a doubt, have developed the ability to look at a day in such a fun and positive way. I have been thinking the title for a future book could be "a day in the life". Sure its lame but you should simply spend each day hanging with a different person. Each day would be great for you seeing the diverse, and you could write about it at the end of the day. Each book could have a different group of people. Maybe you spend a work day with someone and then a weekend day, I don't know exactly but you made me laugh very hard. Thank you as I feel extremely honored for your friendship and the time you spent with us. Got to go to a customer and then pick up C from #1's#1 where he spent the night.


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