Monday, October 21, 2013

On This Date in 1998

Thank God it’s Wednesday! That exclamation will give you an indication of how busy this week has been already. A year ago, JoAnna and I would have been at our wit’s end trying to juggle our schedules, as if we were trying to keep balls and plates and flaming batons in the air at the same time. At least now we can leave the boys on their own, if necessary.

With two weeks left before election day, it’s crunch time for JoAnna. She keeps telling her guys, “You won’t see much of me between now and November 3rd.” Late October is also a hectic time of the year for me with city budget deliberations and preparation for the annual library conference.

Middleton’s personnel committee met on Monday at 5:30, which meant I had to pick up Eddie and bring him to the library since no one was at home. Andy was at football practice. JoAnna had to make a trip to Janesville. I knew Eddie would be hungry so I stopped at the house to fix him a sandwich, grab a container of yogurt and a handful of Oreo cookies. Earlier in the day, I had signed him up for a half hour of computer time so he’d have something to do other than page through books. (Not that he objects to doing that.) He attends a religion class on Monday evenings from 6:30 to 7:30, and St. Bernard’s is only two blocks from the library. Not sure when the committee meeting would end, I asked a staff member to remind Eddie when he needed to leave. She volunteered to give him a ride, since a busy University Avenue separates the library and the church. And, during this time of year, it’s dark by 6:15. As much as I want the boys to develop a sense of independence and responsibility, there are times when the overly protective parent in me takes over.

At 7:15, the library request had still not been discussed. The committee stalled while going through the Public Works part of the agenda. I left the room to call the library from a pay phone in the lobby of city hall and asked Liz if she would pick up Eddie and drive him home. I figured that Andy would be back from football practice by this time.

Fifteen minutes later I was on the way home, very pleased with myself. The personnel committee had approved all of the library’s personnel requests to open the library on Sundays during the school year. Of course, that’s not the final verdict. I still have two more hurdles to jump over: the finance committee and the full council.

I was surprised to find the house dark as I pulled into the driveway. Andy should certainly be home by now, I thought. The phone rang within 5 minutes of my return. I expected to hear Andy’s voice. It was Liz, calling from the library, which momentarily confused me. She and Eddie couldn’t get into the house. I told her (and Eddie) that I’d leave the patio door to the laundry room open. (She had attended our Bastille Day party this year so I figured she knew what I was talking about.) They only tried the two front doors. Eddie did not want to venture into the darkness of the back yard. So I drove to the library to pick up Eddie, swinging by St. Bernard’s to see if Andy had decided to attend his religion class. Last week he attended in his football gear, minus the pads. One of his best buddies is also in the class. For that reason, I don’t think our Lord Jesus was the main draw.

Once Eddie was back home, I decided to check voice mail. Sure enough, there was a message from Andy. “I’m at Riley’s house,” he informed me. I grabbed my car keys and made one final taxi run. Kathy Farrell, one of the football practice carpool parents, had waited to make sure that Andy could get into the house when she dropped him off. Andy tried the two front doors, both locked of course, and he, too, was afraid of the dark. We leave the back door open so he doesn’t have to worry about keeping track of a house key. He usually forgets to bring it to school with him and has been known to misplace a key every once in awhile. (What was that remark about developing responsibility?) Anyway, when Andy found himself locked out, Riley invited him over to his house.

At 8:30, I tried to get Eddie to focus on his homework. Each week he receives a sheet with 6-8 vocabulary words and 12-15 sentences from his special reading teacher. Each night he is supposed to review this assignment for 15 minutes. After an unusually hectic day, Eddie was unable to focus and became a little ornery. I knew if I pushed the issue, I might observe a full-blown tantrum. We found some time Tuesday morning during breakfast.

Tuesday’s finance committee meeting was scheduled at a time when I was supposed to be driving Andy to Cross Plains for a “non-conference” football game, the St. Francis 5th graders against the Middleton 5th graders. With some critical budget requests on the line, I couldn’t miss this meeting. Fortunately, Andy had good news when he called me after school. Kathy Farrell, one of the carpool parents and a teacher’s aide at Elm Lawn, volunteered to pick up Andy at 5:15. I was just about to contact her when Andy called. Whew! I thought. One less thing to worry about.

Since I usually work on Tuesday evenings, JoAnna had already agreed to follow her usual schedule and pick up Eddie. If I hadn’t been saddled with any commitments, though, she would have taken advantage of another opportunity to work late. The finance committee last an hour; I expected that we’d go until 7:00. More good news. Although the committee didn’t take a vote, the preliminary discussion indicates that the library’s two most important capital budget requests (a library materials theft detection system replacement and a divider for the lower level meeting room) will remain intact.

Due to the earlier than anticipated adjournment, I drove to Cross Plains and arrived in time for the kickoff of Andy’s game, his first game under the lights. With his team down 8-0 at halftime, I returned, as planned, to Middleton for the council meeting, since a resolution to exempt the city from the county library tax was on the agenda. Routine business. I didn’t expect any problems, but always like to be in the audience just in case a question arises. I walked into the council chambers five minutes after the start of the meeting. I sat down next to the police chief, who leaned towards me and whispered, “Don’t get too comfortable. We’re almost done.” The council had already voted to approve the county library tax resolution, no questions asked, as the library board had recommended. I could have stayed at Andy’s game, and watched the Orioles go on to a 24-7 defeat. They’re still without a victory, and their last game of the season is this Saturday.

Although JoAnna won’t be home until late tonight, my schedule for today and the rest of the week is a breeze. No more agonizing over how to get the boys from here to there and back home again. I can relax this evening, help Eddie with his homework, then put up my feet and read a book in the solitude of the family room after the boys go to bed. I’ve been able to complete all my conference preparations – board meeting outline on Tuesday, keynote speaker introduction on Wednesday, President’s report for the WLA business meeting on Thursday, and Presidents’ luncheon remarks on Friday – at the library. I keep all my notes and other papers organized in a three-ring binder. I’m ready for business.

We’ll be seeing you soon. Actually the boys and JoAnna will see you sooner. I’ll be in Lake Geneva by the time you arrive on Tuesday. Guess I’ll see you on Friday afternoon. How about if we celebrate my 49th birthday that evening?

By the way, I was very impressed with the Manitowoc Public Library, although I probably would have arranged some of the shelving and displays a little differently. When I first walked along the mezzanine, I was struck by a sense of déjà vu. As far as the interior is concerned, there is a slight resemblance to the older library. I mentioned that to a staff member who had invited me to present the workshop, and she said the same feeling struck her.

JoAnna and I certainly appreciate your willingness to help us out next week. I know the boys are looking forward to Grandma and Grandpa’s visit.

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