Wednesday, December 11, 2013

On This Date in 1998

With JoAnna away from home through Wednesday evening, the first half of this week, starting with Sunday evening, was another experience in single parenthood. Sunday is bath night, and sometimes that can result in a struggle trying to get the boys focused on getting ready for bed after a weekend of staying up later than usual and doing pretty much whatever they want (within the bounds that Mom and Dad set, of course!). Minutes before bedtime, I usually ask the question, “Did you brush your teeth?” at least three times. Sometimes I even demand an inspection. A puff of their breath in my face. That wasn’t necessary Sunday night. 

Monday was a fairly typical day. I got the boys off to school without a hitch. Andy rode his bike, as he is still able to do at this point in December with no snow on the ground. The temperature was in the 20s, but I made sure he had his winter jacket, hat and gloves on. Eddie opted for a ride. It felt odd dropping him off in the van. JoAnna had driven the car to Two Rivers. 

Eddie had a cub scout pack meeting Monday night from 6:30 to 7:45. I let Andy watch about three quarters of the Packer game. Not a pretty sight. It looks as though Green Bay will stumble into the playoffs and then probably trip on their faces in their first game. Even with all the injuries, I can’t believe that Brett Favre allows himself to get so rattled during games. Can he look any worse than he did this past Monday? If so, the Packers may not even make the playoffs. Actually, a Bears upset on Sunday would not surprise me. 

I noticed a report in one of the local papers about the energy demand in Wisconsin Monday evening. It set a record for the winter season. A utility spokesperson attributed it to all the TVs tuned to Monday Night Football (what about the accompanying heavy use of microwaves to make popcorn and het up Cheez Whiz for nachos?) as well as the abundance of icicle lights this year. To put it colloquially, those babies suck a lot of energy. Speaking of Christmas decorations, we haven’t done much of anything yet this year. We do have a wreath on the front of the house and our stocking are “hung by the chimney with car” but otherwise, no tree, no lights around the fireplace mantel, no crèche. Since we plan to be gone for the last two weeks of the year, putting up a tree was never a consideration, although JoAnna did causally suggest that we buy an artificial free. I’m not exactly Mr. Deck the Halls, so any further signs of the season at our house will be the result of JoAnna’s efforts. 

Back to our review of the week. 

Andy has band practice at Kromrey Middle School on Tuesday morning, which requires an earlier than usual departure from the house. Usually, JoAnna drops him off on her way to work. This time I had to provide the taxi service while Eddie remained mummified in a blanket on his bed. Kromrey is less than a mile from the house. Can you imagine the outburst if I had told Andy he needed to walk there? 

Andy interrupted my workday in the middle of the afternoon, right after he got out of school, and asked that I drive him to Zany Brainy, a toy store in Madison, part of a new chain that seems to be giving Toys R Us a run for its market share. “You promised me yesterday that I could get a yo-yo today,” he reminded me. And I admit that I did speak those words. I gave him $15 for babysitting Saturday night, and he was eager to spend part of his earnings on what appears to be a revived fad among gradeschoolers. For whatever reason, I don’t know. Is there some TV show that has made yo-yos all the rage? You can’t even check out a book on yo-yos in the library. Every title has waiting list. I tried to weasel out of this commitment because my workday, which is usually pretty flexible on a Tuesday afternoon, needed my primary attention, but I figured a half-hour absence from the library was better than hearing Andy whine for the rest of the day.

At first, I thought I was going to have to juggle taxi service and a work commitment that evening. A Winter Sing, a 1990s-era substitute for the no longer fashionable 1960s-era Christmas celebration, was scheduled at Elm Lawn School. The band was on the program, scheduled to play a few songs, so Andy had to be at the gym by 6:45, fifteen minutes after the start of my library board meeting. He managed to hitch a ride with Meaghan. I was ready to worry about supervision if Eddie wanted to attend the Winter Sing, too, but fortunately, he expressed no interest. His mind was focused on something much more important to him. He reminded me, when I picked him up at school, that I had promised to buy him a Star Wars toys at the local Walgreen’s. (I must look like an easy mark to my sons. I wonder if they plot these scams together.) Now I truly don’t remember this conversation. But then I thought, “This will be a good way to bribe some good behavior out of Eddie.” He was literally buzzing with excitement as we entered the store. He ran straight to the toy section while I wondered how many people he was going to knock over as he barreled his way to the back of this favorite aisle. The store was jammed with people. Eddie made a remark a couple years ago, the exact circumstances I can no longer remember, that is as meaningful today as it was then. “Sometimes I can’t stop thinking about Star Wars.” \

If I hadn’t bought him the toy beforehand, I probably would have done so after the board meeting, which lasted until a few minutes past 8:00. Eddie was an angel. He didn’t look for me once, which would have meant interrupting the meeting, and the staff wasn’t even aware of his existence after they saw him walk through my office toward the children’s area. He either quietly paged through books or played games on the computer we have set up for kids. Andy didn’t get home until nearly 9:00, by which time I had helped Eddie with his reading, about 4-5 pages of Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel. 

As JoAnna was planning to return home before the end of the day, I considered Wednesday pretty much of a normal day from the start. The only evening commitment I had was to pick up Andy, Drew, and Riley at basketball practice at 7:30. I thought JoAnna would be home from a Dane County Airport Commission meeting by that time. I kept waiting for the floodlight to illuminate the driveway, announcing her arrival, but the darkness persisted. Eddie sometimes complains about having to leave the house when he is settled in for the evening, but with the No-TV-on-school-nights rule in effect, he was ready to think about staying home in quiet house at night. The car was in the driveway when we returned home. The boys and I were very happy to have Mom back home. 

Thursday evening Eddie’s scout troop had scheduled a family night at Fast Forward, a roller-skating rink. We all went along, but I stayed on the sidelines, as did the majority of parents it seemed. I have no problem with ice skating, probably because I did so much of it on the flooded tennis courts at Beaty Field when I was a kid. Even when we took the boys ice skating for the first time a couple years ago, I strapped on a pair of skates and hit the ice (almost) as if there was nothing more than a snap of the fingers between 1962 and 1986. Roller skating is a different story. (I’ve yet to wear a pair of rollerblades.) I feel as though I’m standing on the top of a 10-foot stepladder with wheels, about the lose control. The last time I went roller skating, two or three years ago, I practically dragged my right hand along the wall for support. I just couldn’t seem to get into a rhythm. I should get pair of rollerblades so I could join the boys on their neighborhood jaunts and to build up my confidence on little wheels. I’ll have a long way to go to catch up to Eddie. You should see him motor around the rink. He hardly took a break from the greased-lightning ovals he made around the perimeter, then the interior section of the floor. He was all over the place and looked very confident, always able to avoid what looked to be a sure bump here or push there. Maybe I should look for a roller hockey league for him to play in. He looks like a natural. I’ve always considered Andy as being much more athletic than Eddie, but rollerblading is one sport where Eddie is at least his brother’s equal.

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