In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.
Pure Parental Exhaustion
Late Spring is always difficult. It’s the end of the academic year, so that brings with it the Revenge of the Rubber Chicken Circuit -- a cascading series of evening events calculated specifically to defeat family time. Each event is worthwhile in its own right, of course, but the sheer number of them becomes wearing.
We need live-in help.
Late Spring is always difficult. It’s the end of the academic year, so that brings with it the Revenge of the Rubber Chicken Circuit -- a cascading series of evening events calculated specifically to defeat family time. Each event is worthwhile in its own right, of course, but the sheer number of them becomes wearing. At this morning’s staff meeting, it took several minutes just to find one day without an external conflict; by the end, we were calling out dates like auctioneers calling out bids. We found one in early June.
It’s hiring season, so the interviews are piling up. That’s great, and I’m happy to be in that position, but you can’t exactly coast through interviewing candidates. As final exams loom, faculty and students have the shortest fuses of the year, with predictable results. This is when the grading emergencies hit, the surprise resignations stream in, and the fiscal year whimpers to a close with everyone trying to find juuuust a little bit more.
The Boy has baseball, which has practices two nights a week. The Girl has softball, which has practices two other nights a week. They start their games this weekend. Naturally, the games don’t follow the same schedule as the practices. They both have music lessons once a week (guitar and piano, respectively). She has her first communion on Saturday; family is coming from out of state. She has communion rehearsals Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights this week. He has a science fair on Thursday, for which he has been working on his project -- a solar room heater -- for the past two weeks. He won his class spelling bee, so he represents his class at the townwide spelling bee Friday night.
The Wife is coordinating a 5k run to raise money for The Girl’s school, to help offset the latest round of budget cuts. The school has never done a 5k before, so she has had to make it up as she has gone along. She has organized a team of volunteers -- some runners, some not -- and the team meets two nights a week. She also coordinates logistics and publicity for the run, which is in a couple of weeks. Since nobody in the group has organized a run before, they’re inventing everything as they go along. As is usual in suburban politics, plenty of people say “yes” and then don’t do anything.
I submitted the book manuscript last week.
The nightly homework ritual is getting worse. The Boy has his statewide standardized test this month -- thanks, President Bush! -- so the school is ramping everything up in preparation. He spends thirty to sixty minutes a night doing math homework, all of which I have to check. (Even worse, much of it is geometry. Geometry and I are not friends.) He had an alarming amount of homework over his spring break -- I don’t remember that happening in fifth grade -- and is doing some sort of project just about every night. Of course, most of them require materials that require errands. Why teachers do that, I have no clue, but they do.
If you do the math, you’ll quickly find that the number of committed nights per week exceeds the number of nights in a week. That means daily coordination of what amounts to the parental shuttle service. We usually have at least two externals per night, but this week it’s up to four.
Individually, each component of the schedule is worthwhile. But taken together, it’s madness.
I know I should be counting my blessings. I will, as soon as there’s a free day. Mid-June looks possible...
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