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BAD WAYS TO SPEND THE EXTRA HOUR OF DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME

5:45 am

KID: Mom? MOM!
MOM: What are you doing out of bed?
KID: I woke up.
MOM: Then go back to sleep.
KID: I’m not tired.
MOM: I don’t care if you’re not tired, it’s the middle of the night.
KID: It doesn’t feel like the middle of the night.
MOM: What time does the clock on my nightstand say?
KID: 12:01.
MOM: 12:01?!?!?!
KID: I accidentally tripped over the cord when I was coming over, sorry.
MOM: What does the clock on your father’s nightstand say?
KID: I don’t know. Dad? DAD!
MOM: No! Don’t wake him!
DAD: Too late, I’m already up.
KID: Do you know what time it is?
DAD: I can’t see the clock without my glasses.
MOM: It says 5:45.
DAD: It can’t be 5:45, it’s too dark outside.
MOM: It’s dark because the days are getting shorter.
DAD: But we just went on Daylight Saving Time last night!
KID: What’s Daylight Saving Time?
MOM: It’s when you change the clocks so you get more light during the day.
DAD: Yeah – “Spring forward” and “Fall back,” which means it’s not 5:45, it’s 6:45.
MOM: You mean it’s not 5:45, it’s 4:45.
DAD: That’s what I said.
MOM: No, you said it was 6:45 not 5:45.
DAD: Well… that’s what I meant.
MOM: Except that I remembered to change the clock, so it’s actually 5:45.
KID: Do I still have to go back to bed then?
DAD: No, because I remembered to change the clock, too, so that means it’s…
KID: 3:45?!?!?
MOM: No, because your father always gets Daylight Saving Time backwards, so even though I changed the clock back an hour your father probably changed the clock forward, which means if it says 5:45, it’s actually 4:45.
KID: I’m really confused.
DAD: Me, too – and I didn’t get Daylight Saving Time backwards this time, I totally forgot about it.
MOM: Then why did you say you changed the clock?
DAD: Because you always make such a big deal over the fact that you remember and I forget.
MOM: So rather than come clean, you lied?
DAD: No.
MOM: You didn’t lie?
DAD: Like you said… I have such a bad memory, I just forgot the truth.
MOM: Don’t get sarcastic.
DAD: You’re the one who started it.
MOM: Me?
DAD: I was asleep.
MOM: So everything is my fault?
DAD: Not everything.
KID: Excuse me – before you continue, can somebody just tell me what time it really is?
BOTH: 5:45.
KID: Good.
MOM: Why is that good?
KID: Because I think you’re both gonna need the extra hour you have before you need to get up to figure out what you’re really fighting about.

WHAT DO YOU SAY TO WOULD-BE PARENTS?

“So… what’s it like having kids?” the would-be parent asks.

“It’s great,” you say, “Having kids is the best thing that’s ever happened to us. They’re a lot of work, but when you see the way they smile and laugh and take in the world, it’s definitely worth it.”

And then maybe you chuckle and offer to let them stay over and take your kids for a weekend “test drive,” knowing they probably won’t but hoping they will so you and your spouse can get away for that “romantic weekend” you’ve been talking about since pretty much your kids were born (with the term “romantic” being parent-code for “getting some sleep and being able to watch pay-per-view movies all the way through, in one sitting, without being interrupted a dozen times because ‘I’m hungry’ or ‘I had an accident’ or ‘I spilled jam on the carpet,’ etc.”).

You may suggest these would-be parents pick up a movie or two, too. But while many recommend something like “Parenthood”1 for its funny and touching insights into the ups and downs of, well, parenthood, there’s another movie that gives a fuller and more complete picture: 1970s horror classic “The Exorcist.” Here’s why:

Demonic possession is just another name for a weekday morning.

As every parent knows, at random and unpredictable intervals, your little angel will wake up snarling and nasty like a beast from Hell. Foul-mouthed? Before you even get through the door to say “Good morning, I made you breakfast,” you find yourself assaulted with “GET OUT! Can’t you see I’m sleeping? You always wake me up like this. I hate you. I hate you. I HATE YOU.”

And their appearance? Definitely something unholy (though, to be fair, not because they’re suddenly sporting horns, scales and some grotesque demon pig-nose, but because nobody looks good when they don’t shower for three days – why is personal hygiene such a difficult concept for kids to get, anyway?).

As for being able to crawl across the ceiling? Well… maybe not the ceiling, but when you consider the gravity-defying ways kids flip around in their beds while they sleep, it’s not such a stretch to think they might some- how end up on the ceiling.

Green puke? How about orange puke, yellow puke and blue puke, too?

It’s not called “The Technicolor Yawn” for nothing, something parents usually find out fast. Often, these multi-colored hues can be traced back to two types of foods: foods consumed in excess, like artificially-flavored fruit punch, Halloween candy and birthday cake; and foods consumed under protest such as salad, non-breaded fish, and brussels sprouts (with the eventual volume of puke increasing exponentially if you happen to say something like “I don’t care if you don’t like it. Nobody ever threw up eating brussels sprouts, so finish your plate!” first).

You know a child’s head can’t spin completely around… but a 5-year-old doesn’t.

And no matter how quickly the parent dashes into the other room to get the phone or answer the door or shut the oven off before dinner burns, it’s five seconds more than the 5-year-old needs to twist the 2-year-old’s head around to the point where it’s about to snap. “But we were just playing owl,” the child protests.

You don’t need an exorcist, but a child psychologist might be a good idea.

What parent hasn’t thrown up their hands at some point and said “I can’t do this anymore!” before turning to an expert for help?

Whether it’s the therapist, the math tutor, the reading coach, the college placement counselor or even the pitching specialist, all these experts are trying to do is exactly what Father Merrin was trying to do to Linda Blair’s Regan: make the kid “normal” again.

There can always be a sequel because evil – like parenting – goes on forever.

Which means the moment parents think they’re done and their kids are on their own, they move back home. Or go into therapy. Or just stop calling. This can happen at any time, for any reason (though it’s often financial), and it’s generally a lot worse than the original, just like “Exorcist 2 – The Heretic,” “The Exorcist 3,” and both versions of “Exorcist – The Beginning.”

And if that isn’t scary, nothing is.

From “Why Chicken Nuggets are Better Than Prozac.”

1Is the TV version of this movie a reasonable substitute? Clearly the show has plenty of fans –  here, here, here and here, for example – but what if it gets cancelled? Imagine devoting hour after hour to something, getting attached and becoming emotionally invested in its well-being, only to have it suddenly just grow up and move go away? On second thought… maybe that’s even more like parenthood than the movie “Parenthood.”

WHEN KIDS ASK UNCOMFORTABLE QUESTIONS

What’s sex? Did you take drugs in college? Why did you vote for George W. Bush* the second time?

Kids ask questions all the time, but there’s a difference between the ones parents can’t answer — “Does God need to shower?” — and the ones (some) parents don’t want to. The solution? Perhaps we can take a cue from politicians, their press secretaries and the so-called “bipartisan” pundits we see on TV and use the same simple strategies for answering without answering.

1. Give a detailed, thoughtful response, just not to the question they ask.

Campaigning politicians are particularly good at this, and the trick is to remember that your answer can be anything, just as long as you can loosely relate it to the original question.

For example, if asked about drugs, begin by saying “I’m glad you asked me about smoking pot in college…,” which makes it sound like you’re going to admit that for most of your sophomore year your best friend was your bong, but then say “…because I think it’s important that we be open and honest with each other, especially now that you’re older and starting to ask hard questions. It seems like only yesterday when the most important thing on your mind was which Power Ranger you wanted to dress up as, or if a certain Pokemon could beat a certain other kind of Pokemon. I have to admit that watching you grow up has been one of the most satisfying experiences of my life, and I look forward to helping you continue on that journey towards adult- hood by providing you with the information and insight I myself have gained over the years…”

If you haven’t lost them by then, just keep talking.

2. Focus on “the larger issue.”

Which can be pretty much anything you want it to be.

3. Ask your kids what they think the answer is.

Also known as the therapist approach.

This works well for things you don’t really know how to explain, but not-so- well for things you’re just not comfortable talking about.

4. Lie.

Time was that people who didn’t tell the truth were called liars and they were looked down upon, but thanks to all the CEO’s, athletes, politicians and ce- lebrities who’ve been caught with their pants down (or off, or filled with drugs, etc.) those days seem to be over.

The best thing about this approach is that if your lie is later exposed, you can claim you just “misspoke.” As in “Yes, I can see how my response to the ques- tion ‘Did I vote for George W. Bush?’ might have been confusing, because when I said ‘No,’ I actually misspoke. In point of fact – and because it’s im- portant to me that the record accurately reflect my views – I didn’t mean ‘No’ in the traditional sense of the word, and I can see now how my incorrect use of that word might have been somewhat misleading, because what I, in fact, meant was that I felt that in light of the specific challenges facing the Presi- dent at that time, it was important for me – and really, all of us as a nation – to remain united and strong, and because of that, I did my duty as an American by going to the polls and casting a ballot so my voice could be heard, and even though that ballot was nominally in the affirmative, it was really more a show of support for the country as a whole than a specific endorsement of any one candidate. I voted because it’s the duty of every citizen to vote, and for that I will never apologize.”

5. Use a spokesperson.

Either a hired professional or your spouse, if he or she has the BS skills required.

This has the added benefit of distancing you from your answer, whatever that might be.

Plus, if you are later confronted about the answer your spokesperson gave on your behalf, you can say you didn’t actually mean whatever it was they said and that you must have been “quoted out of context.”

*Or, increasingly for many, Barack Obama the first time.

DO NOT CALL

7:21 am.
Awakened by phone.
Son’s friend’s mother calling to ask about afternoon playdate despite being told many times before do not call before 8:30 am unless it’s an emergency, especially on a Saturday because that’s the only day I ever get to sleep in.
Tell her to call back after 8:30 am.
Irritated.
Climb back in bed.

7:37 am.
Still awake.
Reluctantly accept fact that chance to sleep-in ruined.
Even more irritated.

7:43 am.
Think of other ways to get the do not call before 8:30 am unless it’s an emergency point across because, clearly, plain English is not working.
Also think a playdate is not an emergency, and sure as Hell isn’t going to happen today.

7:46 am.
Realize this is harsh/unfairly punishes kids for mother’s behavior.

7:54 am.
Fantasize about retaliation/payback.
Wonder if I could live with myself if I called every night for a week at 12:01 to remind her do not call before 8:30 am unless it’s an emergency.

7:56 am.
Accept fact that I could not.

8:01 am.
Try to think of other alternatives.

8:02 am.
Have one idea.

8:08 am.
Post this.

8:09 am.
Go out for extra-large coffee.
Hear phone ring just as door is closing.
Know instantly who it is.

8:10 am.
Think disconnecting phone line may be only option.

TIME MANAGEMENT TIPS? OH, PLEASE

As a parent, time is precious. So how do you make the most of it? Time management experts offer the following advice:

1. Prioritize.
2. Delegate/outsource.
3. Set time limits for tasks.
4. Establish routines and stick to them.
5. Don’t waste time waiting.

At first glance, these suggestions seem simple and straight-forward, but when you actually try to implement them you quickly realize they are better suited to some kind of parallel “self-help dimension” where the laws of time, space and sibling in-fighting don’t apply.

1. Prioritize.

In theory, yes. In practice – forget it.

Take, say, the tasks of treating an injury versus giving a toddler a bath. Typically, bleeding kids come first, unless they’re bleeding because they did the thing you told them not to do five times, in which case the toddler would get the bath. If the bleeding kid is bleeding on furniture, however, then the furniture needs immediate attention.

On the other hand, if there’s only a little bleeding and it’s not on any furniture, then that might not be as important as preventing the toddler from trying to bathe himself.

2. Delegate/outsource.

Which means what? Parents are supposed to ship their kids off to India to get help with their homework?

3. Set time limits for tasks.

Okay. But what is the appropriate time limit for a temper tantrum? And if getting everybody ready in the morning takes 15 minutes longer than whatever amount of time you set aside – whether it’s 40 minutes or two hours – how are you supposed to limit that? Or if you make reservations for that one night out a year you get a leisurely three hours to eat, what happens when the babysitter is 20 minutes late and the restaurant gives up your table?

4. Establish routines and stick to them.

Most parents already do this, but it doesn’t seem to help. For example, a typical morning routine would be telling the kids to get up, get in the shower, get dressed, get some breakfast and get in the car, then repeating this three or four times over the course of 20 minutes before threatening them with some kind of bodily harm if they don’t do all of the above RIGHT THIS MINUTE!

This is followed by the nagging suspicion that something that was supposed to have been done last night wasn’t, and the sudden realization that this “something” was making lunches for all the kids.

Oops.

As there is now not nearly enough time left to do everything and still get off on time, vows that “This will never happen again!” must be shouted so that all in the house can hear, spouses must be silently cursed for not helping, and God must be asked “Why me? What have I done to deserve this?”

5. Don’t waste time waiting.

Clearly this was not written by anyone living in a small house with kids. How else is a parent supposed to get into the bathroom?

From “Why Chicken Nuggets are Better Than Prozac.”

THE RETURN OF ROB AND LAURA PETRIE?

Network censors demanded separate beds for “The Dick Van Dyke Show” because they felt it was inappropriate for the married couple portrayed by Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore to sleep together.

(Raising the question of exactly how son Richie came about, but never ad- dressing it.)

It seemed silly at the time, and even more silly when the 70s hit and the sexual revolution took hold, but now more and more couples are starting to think “Hey, maybe those network censors had it right after all!”

According to experts, the main benefit of a couple having separate bedrooms is they both get more sleep because neither gets awakened by the other’s snoring… getting up every hour to pee… tossing and turning… general inabil- ity to tip-toe… and so on.

On the negative side… well… when you’re getting more sleep, is there really anything negative?

Note: While there is concern that separate bedrooms could impact intimacy and romance, that’s only for couples without children, as couples with chil- dren almost certainly gave those up shortly after their first child was con- ceived, and now fully embrace the idea of separate bedrooms if for no other reason than when you both sleep in the same bed, both of you wind up with no room to move around when your kids file in after dark because they had a bad dream or heard something scary in the closet.

From “Why Chicken Nuggets are Better Than Prozac.”

MY BARISTA, MY FRIEND?

On most days, even when I get up too early, I’m already running late. So that by the time I get showered, get dressed, get the kids ready, get in the car, get the kids to school and get to Starbucks, I have used up what little energy I began the day with and what I really want is my venti extra-shot Americano.

Now.

IIn the old days, this was easy because vain, arrogant, intimidating baristas would glare so angrily at anyone who ordered wrong – a “vanilla sugar-free grande triple latte” instead of a “triple grande sugar-free vanilla latte,” for example – the poor soul would have no choice but to take his or her drink and slink away in shame, silently vowing to avoid such humiliation tomorrow by going somewhere else and leaving Starbucks to the caffeine addicts.

Baristaphobia = shorter lines.

But now that McDonald’s has McLattes, Dunkin’ Donuts touts the dunkin’ as much as the donuts, and break rooms everywhere include at least one vending machine that can automatically make any one of a dozen coffee-drinks, Starbucks seems to have realized they have to do more than just serve coffee if they want to make money, they have to serve customers.

Who can blame them? It worked for Burger King back in the ‘70s, so why not?

(Except instead of “Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce, special orders don’t upset us,” it might be:
“Make it no foam
or sugar free
whatever you want
we’ll serve with glee
our growth has slowed
so we can’t be
snobs anymore.”)

Obviously, there’s nothing inherently wrong with being nice, but the result of this customer-friendly attitude is that all the people who used to stay away from Starbucks because they were afraid of being yelled at are now standing in line right in front of me, asking what the difference between a “misto” and a “macchiato” is or trying to decide if they’d like to try a breakfast sandwich.

Worse, the baristas are not just being polite to them, they’re being chatty, too. Which means that in addition to wanting to know exactly how they can make the customer’s drink exactly the way they’d like it made, they want to know how their day is, what kind of plans they have, how their family is, etc.

And when I finally get to the front of the line, they want to know that about me, too.

Except at 7:43 in the morning, after having been up all night with a vomiting toddler and a dog who wants me to get up every couple of hours and go to the window to look at the neighbor’s cat, I don’t want to be friendly to anyone – not my kids, not my spouse, not my neighbors and certainly not my barista.

Unfortunately, as much as I want to respond to the question “How’s your day going so far?” by saying “It would be a lot better if I didn’t have to wait in line for 25 minutes to get a cup of coffee,” I don’t.

Because whether it’s crack cocaine or caffeine, addicts like me will do anything to get their fix – even smile and pretend to be friendly.

(And while there are still any number of alternatives to Starbucks, places where the lines are short and somber, and the baristas still act like divas, they’re a few blocks out of the way, and the only thing worse than waiting a few extra minutes in line is waiting a few extra minutes in traffic.)

OPRAH’S (IM)PRACTICAL GUIDE TO GETTING MORE SLEEP

God bless Oprah and all the good she does in the world, but sometimes she – or, perhaps more accurately, her editors – get it wrong.

Case in point: the 10-point family guide to getting more sleep, which starts out sensibly enough, but quickly takes an impractical turn:

1. Make sleep a family priority.

2. Recognize sleep problems in your children.

For most parents, the problem isn’t recognizing the problem – it’s pretty obvious that kids don’t like going to sleep, ever, no matter how late it is or how tired they are – it’s figuring out what to do about it, other than turning to Benadryl.

3. Parents need to work together.

But we don’t.

It’s not “divide and conquer” so much as it is “You deal with it while I relax for a while and watch TV ‘cause I’ve had a rough day.”

4. Be consistent.

Ha.

5. Set a regular bedtime and wake time.

Parents already do this all the time, we’re just not very good at it. Because while most of us realize that bedtime should be 15 to 30 minutes before we finally reach the breaking point, and wake time should be whenever we finally get enough sleep to feel rested and alert – say 8:09 pm and 7:51 am – the reality is that bedtime is usually 15 minutes after the breaking point, and wake time is whatever time you absolutely, positively have to leave the house in the morning so you’re not late minus half the time you need to make breakfast, make lunches, make coffee, take a shower, get everyone dressed, settle whatever random fight breaks out that morning and kiss your spouse. (Unless you’re still fighting because you didn’t work together.)

6. Routine. Routine. Routine.

In your dreams. In your dreams. In your dreams – unless a “routine” can consist of a carefully planned series of random, unpredictable events to which no timeframe can ever logically be applied.

7. Dress and room temperature – not too hot, not too cold.

Oh, please – if one kid is too hot, the other is too cold, and if they’re fine, you’re uncomfortable. The only one who ever got anything “just right” was Goldilocks and she was make-believe.

8. Transitional object to ease separation – doll, stuffed animal, blanket.

Okay, but what do you do when the “transitional object” is Mom?

(While that might seem good for Dad, it’s bad for Mom, which means that ultimately it’s bad for Dad, too.)

9. Don’t share your room or your bed with your child.

Anyone with parents who weren’t hippies has heard this, but let’s examine the way it works in real life:

CHILD: Can I sleep with you?
PARENT: No.
CHILD: But I’m scared.
PARENT: No.
CHILD: And I don’t like being by myself.
PARENT: No.
CHILD: Why not?
PARENT: Because Oprah says you can’t.
CHILD: I hate Oprah. Oprah is mean. I’m never going to watch Oprah on TV again. (Unless she gives me a car*.)

Worse, the next night when your kid comes in it won’t be because there’s a monster under the bed, it’ll be because Oprah is there, too.

10. There’s always one last thing with kids, so anticipate.

Anticipate? One last thing? How about 10 last things? Or 20? Any parent who can do that is clearly psychic and should just hit the Atlantic City casinos and hire an army of nannies with the winnings.

For most parents, the most practical suggestion for getting more family sleep is to just be patient for 18 years or so, at which time the kids will finally be old enough to move on and sleep by themselves.

*Or recommends her audience checks out www.overcaffeinateddad.com.

STAY HOME OR GO IN TO WORK?

Are you throwing up? YES stay home
NO
Is your boss out for the day? YES stay home
NO
Can you get your work done tomorrow? YES stay home
NO
Can you get it done this week? YES stay home
NO
Has it been more than a week
since your last sick day?
YES stay home
NO
Is there something you could
watch on TV instead?
YES stay home
NO
Is there anything else
you’d rather be doing?
YES stay home
NO
go in