32 Minutes

32 minutes. That’s the amount of time I saved this morning. Mom and the girls are gone for a few days for Spring Break. Mom, both her sisters, Grandma, and all the kids (7 girls and a boy) are all spending a few days together at a location that isn’t here.

The best part? I was able to watch LOST and The Pacific back to back without anybody interrupting me to perform a hastily choreographed skit combing cheerleading and gymnastics.

Anyway, I left 32 minutes earlier for work. And it felt weird being part of the early to work crowd instead of the just in time for work crowd. I felt a little out of place. Like Boston College in the ACC. However, having them out of the house makes things simpler. I was going to say easier but that’s not really the right word. There’s a few things you notice when the only person you have to get up in the morning is yourself.

1) When you are shaving you don’t have to answer any questions regarding the taste of shaving cream or its relation to whipped cream. Nobody is fighting for position in front of the mirror. Bailey is quick but there’s not much to her. If Rye gets her hip into Bails – its over. It’s like Barkley boxing out Stockton back in the day.

2) Breakfast consists of just eating. I had completely forgotten about this. When you don’t have to answer anything about fractions or the economy of the western states or where a 6 year-old may have placed her sneakers last, you can read the entire paper, eat a whole bowl of oatmeal and pack your lunch in 48 seconds. It’s really amazing.

3) It feels like you forgot something all morning. I was completely thrown off by the fact that the only person I was responsible for was me. I’m not going to lie, it was really, really disconcerting. I was fighting instinct. I almost stopped by daycare just to see if the girls’ friends needed anything.

The other thing was noticed was how quiet the house can get. I got home last night and didn’t speak a single word until I arrived at work this morning. It was so quiet you could have snuck into Durham and stole Cameron Indoor. By the way, I like Duke as the first one seed to go down in the tournament. First round upsets? UTEP, Siena, and Murray State. Maybe Utah State but I’m not ready to pull that trigger yet.

Anyway, Mom and the girls get home tomorrow afternoon sometime. Which is good because I think I’m going to have the girls fill out their own bracket this year and see who does better – me or them. I’ll let you know how it goes…

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Scary Stuff

The previews of my life with teenage girls are coming more rapidly. Some are just irritating. Others hit you like Jack Lambert used to hit guys from Cincinnati.

Yesterday morning I’m getting the girls up. This is simple task. Not necessarily easy but simple. Rye, taking after my younger sister, does not like to wake up. Kinsey usually gets up without protest. Bails usually gets up and then grabs a blanket and pillow and goes back to sleep on the floor in the middle of her room. Getting Rye and Kinz up on Thursday mornings is even harder because they are tired from gymnastics the night before. Plus American Idol is on and Mom lets them stay up to see the end. Kinda like when my Mom used to let me stay up and watch the first 15 minutes of ABC’s Monday Night Football. I still remember Colts-Redskins 1977 because for some reason I was able to watch all the way through halftime. Which meant hearing Cosell do Halftime Highlights. Get chills just thinking about it.

Anyway, I’m getting them up and into the shower because they are always too tired to shower after gymnastics. Can’t send them to school smelling like a foot so it’s a morning shower. After Mom, Riley gets in the shower. Then Kinsey. And that means hot water becomes scarce ‘round these parts. Now this is not the first time that I’m fourth in line for the shower. But yesterday was the first time that the shower started out chilly. Except for that time last winter when the water heater went out. You how you always have a reference point for things? Like, “Man, that doesn’t taste very good but its still not as bad as broccoli.” Well the only thing colder than my shower would be Nancy Pelosi’s reception if she walked into a Tea Party holding a hammer and sickle.

Second preview that happened was last weekend. Kinz had a friend sleep over Saturday night. And those two along with Rye, Bails and our neighbor are out playing in the snow in the backyard. I’m catching up on the results at the NFL Combine – if Idaho guard Mike Iupati is available at 18 my recommendation is that the Steelers take him. Anyway, as I’m doing this I hear voices down in the basement. Hmmm, that’s odd, I don’t remember the girls coming inside.

Well turns out that Rye never went outside and was just down there watching TV. The rest of the girls wanted inside so she opened a window and they just climbed in through that. So we had our first instance of sneaking into the house through the basement window.

Granted, it happened in the middle of the afternoon instead of after midnight and it was because they wanted to watch The Wizards of Waverly Place instead of avoiding curfew. But it still doesn’t make me happy.

Finally, while the girls were watching the end of American Idol after gymnastics, I gave them some water. Gotta hydrate after your workouts. Naturally, Kinsey spilled her water on the couch. Normally this would result in her whining or Riley loudly announcing her misdeed. Neither of these things happened. What happened was Mom came over to sit down and wondered why the couch was so cold. And wet.

Turns out the strategy Kinsey chose to deal with accidental liberation of liquid from her cup was to cover the spill zone with a pillow. She didn’t quietly walk into the kitchen and grab a dish rag. She didn’t even try to sneak by us with a paper towel. Her fatigue was evidently so great from gymnastics that all she could come with was the Adam Sandler in Big Daddy covering it up strategy.

That’s like saying the Rams are just a player away from the playoffs. Or that Lorenzo Llamas is just an Oscar away from respect.

She really needs a better contingency plan for dealing with spills while tired.

Finally, on an unrelated note, Bailey brings home a sheet from her guidance class. It’s a pic of her thinking about some things that she worries about. I assume it’s the guidance teacher’s way of seeing if there is anything going on at home or school that the teachers need to be aware. Like bullying. It’s not a bad idea. If it was me I’d have drawn pictures of Karl Marx, Woodrow Wilson and President Obama. But that’s just me.

So what does Bailey worry about?

Earthquakes.

And tornadoes.

And bees.

She drew a picture of a structure which looks a lot like the Parthenon and a sort of Jetsons-type car next to it. Underneath it the ground was coming apart. Then there’s a picture of a tornado with four lightning bolts and raindrops the size of Volkswagens hitting a house. Finally there is a picture of Bailey surrounded by a squadron of bees. Bees with freakishly large stingers.

I told Mom no more letting her watch Twister or The Day After Tomorrow. We’ll have to work on the bees though.

Mandatory Softball

This whole softball adventure I’ve embarked us on seems a lot like being the new kid at school. There are lots of rules and social mores that I don’t understand. Cultural norms that are not as apparent to me as they are to the rest of the parents.

For example, last Sunday there was a mandatory meeting for players, parents and coaches. Or for those of us with three girls in the league, there were three very similar meetings back to back to back. The good folks who run the league, all volunteers by the way – I assume they either really, really like softball or they committed some minor crime and the judge sentenced them to running a softball league – wanted everyone to get together and hear all the rules, etc. at the same time. Plus it’s a good way for parents and players to meet each other and the coaches.

Except “mandatory” must have varying definitions of which I am not aware. See I was taught by the good nuns at St. Margaret Mary Elementary School that mandatory was one of those non-negotiable terms. Its meaning was clear and evident and not open to interpretation. A mandatory meeting meant that you had to be there because whatever was to be discussed was important. It was compulsory. Mandatory does not mean optional.

When Sister Beverly Jean told you to sit down and be quiet, you assumed that it was mandatory that you followed her orders. It wasn’t a suggestion. You didn’t have a decision tree on which to examine your possible alternatives. It wasn’t up for debate and it certainly wasn’t something you were allowed to ignore.

I evidently was led astray.

There are nine girls on Bailey’s team. She’s on the Fireflys. Just three sets of parents showed up with their kids including us. No coach. Ten teams and ours is the one without a coach.

Eleven girls on Kinsey’s team. Including our next door neighbor. We have a coach who not only seemed like a good dude but he’s coached for 5 years and already had an assistant lined up. But only 6 parents showed up. Kinsey’s team is also the Fireflys. Which is better than Bunnies, Pandas or Chipmunks.

Ten girls on Riley’s team. Nobody showed up. No coach. No parents. No kids. Riley and I were the only ones there from our team. Evidently Rye is going to get to bat a lot. Rye’s team is the Cardinals and is evidently made up of families afflicted with a condition that as far as we could tell prevents them from paying attention to schedules. Which should make game time pretty interesting.

Irritated to the power of ten is probably a good way to describe my mood. Didn’t bother the kids though. Bailey and Kinsey were too busy thinking up uniform designs for the Fireflys.