Many are the skills a man must bring to bear as a parent.
Of course people talk about patience, ability to operate on little or no sleep, a high tolerance for revolting stenches and sudden, disgusting surprises.
(I think my favorite parenting story of all time is the classic “neck poo” story of my friend Andrew: he was sitting in a coffee shop with his son Joe, who turned beet red and with a look on intense concentration on his face filled his diaper– this much Andrew knew, this much he could tell: what he didn’t realize just how successfully Joe had filled his diaper…until a little hunk of poo squirted out of Joe’s collar).
But what they rarely talk about is what a great time killer you have to be.
You have to become a time assassin. A murderer of minutes, a strangler of hours.
And that for many of us is what March break is all about. You stare at your kids. They stare at you. Both with the same thought balloon: “What am I supposed to do with you?”
So as a parent you have to bump off the day. You have to ice it. You lure it into the back of your Cadillac El Dorado, take it out to a lonely, unpopulated spot, and whack it.
You go to Chudleigh’s apple farm. You go to the museum. You go to the movies. Everywhere you go, you encounter other parents and caregivers with the same glazed expression, patiently ushering that day into the hands of The Grim Reaper.
This year we’re killing time on the slopes, we bought a bunch of used ski equipment and we’re going to hit a couple of the bumps that can’t even call themselves mountains in the vicinity.
Anyway, I don’t need a mountain. I’m a horrible skier and even worse snowboarder. And the way it looks I’m never going to get any better.
I know this. I am at peace with this fact. Here’s what will happen. I can tell you in advance. Me no need no crystal ball to tell you what will happen. My 11-year-old and 8-year-old will blast off with Pam, my wife, they’ll hit all the most challenging runs. I won’t see them all day.
I’ll be skiing with my 5-year-old– at first. But his learning curve will outstrip mine, soon he’ll grow tired of my lack of skills, and head off with the others.
And I’ll be all alone. I’ll go down the beginners run a few more time.
Then even I will get bored with my horrible skiing skills, and I’ll go back to the chill room, scarf down a hot dog, tap on my laptop, think about maybe slipping up to the room for a nap.
It works out. I’ve got quite a bit of work to do anyway.
And at the end of it all, another week will lay stretched out on the slab, ready for the coroner’s examination.