What husbands get up to when Mom's not around


November 05, 1995|By KEVIN THOMAS

THIS PAST WEEK has marked the National Middle School Association's convention in New Orleans, which I did not have the pleasure of attending even though quite a few people from Howard County were there.

But this is not about those who went. Rather it is about those who stayed behind and suffered and survived. As the husband of one of the conventioneers, I extend my hand to all the other spouses who stayed behind keeping those home fires burning while our significant others were toiling in the French Quarter to improve their profession.

And speaking of fires burning, there was not one this past week at my house. I closed the flue.

Poor dogs

A lone father, managing a household with two children, has no time to be sitting around the hearth in a cardigan patting the Labrador on the head.

Poor Lab. He and his little friend, the Pekingese, spent most of the last few days sitting in their crates because I haven't had time to keep an eye on them.

What I've been doing, when I wasn't stretched out on the couch and recovering, was trying to stay on top of all the things that my kids do in a week. And if we were lucky, we actually did them.

As all Howard residents with children know, when you move here you must pass through a roadblock where you are forced to sign up your kids for every major activity offered, regardless of season, interest or financial situation.

Soccer, of course, is a mandatory sport in Howard County. My kids have been playing since they were five and refusing to go on the field. In fact, my daughter spent her entire first season running from the ball.

Actually, soccer is a great sport. Few things are more rewarding for a parent than to sit for an hour on the sidelines of a mud-soaked field, huddled in a folding chair.

Unless, of course, it rains.

At the height of soccer season, the idea of a relaxed weekend all but disappears. Between the games Saturday and Sunday, the tournaments that last for weeks and the picture-taking, there's barely time to squeeze in grocery-shopping.

Mom's taxi

Practices are twice a week, and this is where the Thomas shuttle service comes into play. There are thousands of shuttle services operating in Howard County, each one with a "Mom's Taxi" sign hanging in the back window.

My wife and I share this chore, although when it's my turn, my kids go through a period of heightened anxiety about whether they'll get there on time. The sad fact is most of us men keep a schedule about as well as we crochet.

My wife, on the other hand, keeps a detailed, well-organized calendar hanging on our kitchen wall. The name of the child, activity, time and place are all listed wherever appropriate.

I never look at it.

When the time comes, she hands me the keys, points me toward the door and blesses the children as they file by.

I don't know why we men can't cope with this aspect of life. It's like a bulb went out in the lamp in the back of our brains and it has taken 10 years to replace it.

I finally replaced mine this week while my wife was in New Orleans. And let me tell you when it comes to keeping track of the kids' schedules, I'd just as soon be in the dark.

On the heels of soccer, which ended last week, we have basketball coming, not to mention a continuation of Girl Scouts, possible dance lessons and weekly treks to the skating rinks. One of the highlights is my daughter's weekly horseback riding lessons, which she begged for for so long we thought she would start calling other parents for assistance.

The truth is, horseback riding is an extremely expensive activity. Big bucks are plunked down so that little girls can live out this mysterious fantasy they seem to share. Our weekly jaunts to the horse center are an experience to behold. While I personally enjoy the fresh smell of a barn full of horses, my least favorite activity is sitting at a picnic table for an hour conversing with some of the largest flies known to man.

For someone who has never ridden before, even the ponies seem a little intimidating. But while I try not to walk too close behind a horse, or step in the wrong pile, there are all these little girls in black, brushed-velvet hats prancing around like old pros.

I tried "tacking up" just to build my confidence, and the horse nearly kicked me out of the stall.

All of which just confirms for me why fathers are so bad at keeping track of things. It scares the heck out of us.


Last Sunday's column contained two errors for which I apologize. I mistakenly referred to Judge Lenore Gelfman as administrative judge for the District Court. She is actually an associate judge. Also, I stated that Judge Gelfman was disappointed that she was not recommended for a position on the Circuit Court. In fact, the county bar association did recommend Judge Gelfman. Gov. Parris N. Glendening, however, chose other appointees.

Kevin Thomas is The Sun's editorial writer in Howard County.

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