simplify! the night before so the morning doesn’t suck


There are 172 days of school left until summer vacation.

I used to think I didn’t like summer vacation because that meant I didn’t have to deal with papers and homework enforcement and all the rest. That there was too much mayhem and whining and pool going.

I miss summer vacation.

This morning sucked.

For reasons now disclosed to me by Thing 2 (11)’s teacher there was no reason for me to do what I did this morning because he didn’t need to do what he did yesterday.

“Can you print my homework?” he asks.

“Sure!” I say.


This morning I had to retype his sentences because the other laptop wouldn’t email to my personal address due to some IMAP (whatever the what that is) client missed a meeting or wouldn’t buy coffee and then it wouldn’t print because it needed to open some random Windows product I’ve NEVER seen (I’ve exclusively worked on a Mac since 2005). It didn’t take forever to retype — I’m a speed demon on the keyboard — but I recently learned that it needn’t have been performed on the computer at all. Just the math homework. Which I didn’t see and I don’t know if he did. I digress.

So instead of printing it out last night (which I coulda done when The breadwinner was home; he does Windows) I said, “naaah, we’ll do it in the morning.”

As a result, ‘naaah, we’ll do it in the morning’ is productivity’s Kiss of Death.

So what happened this morning? Other than having to retype my son’s homework followed by his insistence that he had strep throat (which he doesn’t)?

Well, I’ll tell you. Because he insisted he had strep I had to look for the thermometer… well, that’s not entirely true: I know where the thermometer is. It just needed batteries, so I had to look for them. Down the stairs into the basement, over the dirty laundry, whoosh over to the dresser to pull! open The Battery Drawer and spy all manner of C, D, AA and AAA batteries… we are in business. I open the thermometer’s battery compartment hatch. 9-volt. NINE VOLT?! The only thing that uses 9-volts anymore are transistor radios and walkie-talkies right?!

9-volt… 9-volt… 9-volt…”Ungots,” as my father used to say, which means: “don’t have” in some Buffalo, NY-inspired, him-idiosyncratic euro-mockery parlance. Climb back up the stairs to touch my son’s forehead with my lips… mmmmno, no fever. Take a tylenol for the pain. I suspect it’s a runny nose due to the fall allergies I have as well. I was coughing last night too.

I have three boys. The oldest, Thing 1, is 14. I should have a routine down by now right? But Thing 1 is amazingly self-directed and he has lulled us into thinking that all children exist as if ceos in training. He makes me look like the fumbling adolescent who can’t tie her own shoes. We used to call him our “45-year-old investment banker” (until the housing market’s collapse) because he is so calm and poised and freaking pragmatic. But he has a flaw: he likes to play with his iPod touch while watching “The Office/30 Rock/Big Bang Theory/Parks & Rec” reruns.

Thing 2? He’s like I am. Anyone under 35 can leave right now and come back tomorrow: remember the show “Alice”? With Linda Lavin as Alice and Vic Tayback (what the what is a Vic Tayback) as Mel the Greco-chef and “Kiss My Grits” (I can’t remember her character’s name, Mona? Maura? but she was saucy and southern), and then Vera, the small-framed nerd cum spaz whose credits cameo shot was opening a box of straws only to have it completely explode in front of her? That’s me. I’m Vera. You’d never know it by looking at me because my hair is combed and I walk upright and I like to do athletic things, but inside: Vera all the way. At :30, you’ll see Vera/Molly:

No. Please don’t laugh; it’s true.

BUT I HAVE A PLAN NOW! Unintentionally borrowing from Alice’s reinvention theme song (because I wrote this before I got the link), there’s IS a new sheriff in town! A new magistrate! A new … new … girl in town: ME. I’m gonna be Alice, but without all the guilt and self-loathing. To spare you any agony with your kids (because I know some of you have children younger than mine) and because this whole “have a plan” thing is new to me (being raised by wolves) here’s what I’ve come up with. A Before Bed ROUTINE!

Copy and paste this list for your own purposes and modify as needed:

Before Bed


1)  Is your homework in its folder?

2)  Is your folder in your backpack?

3)  Is your backpack ready in the playroom on the bench?

Personal / Hygiene:

1)  Have you taken a shower?

2)  Have you brushed your teeth?

3)  Are you in your pajamas?

For tomorrow:

1)  Is your lunchbox cleared?

2)  Is your icepack in the freezer?

3)  Do you know where your shoes are? Locate them.

4)  Do you know where your jacket is? Locate it.

5)  Do you have a game / practice tomorrow? Do you know where your

  1. Jersey is?
  2. Cleats are?
  3. Shin guards are?
  4. Socks are?
  5. Court shoes (if basketball) are?

For your wallet:

1)  Have you done your chores?

2)  Are your clothes put away?

3)  Are the cleaning ladies coming tomorrow? Yes? Clean your room. No? Clean your room.

For your brain:

1)  Have you read today?

2)  Is it between 8:30 and 9:00? Read now until 8:55. No Legos.

3)  What time is it? If it is after 9:00, you are too late already; you must go to sleep.

So now this routine has been printed and is on display at kid-centric areas of the house. We will see how it goes.

There are 172 days left til summer vacation. I need 9-volts now.

Keep straws away from me.

Thank you.

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