Thursday, August 28, 2014


Children are the timekeepers, the pacesetters.

They own the rhythm; we rent.

I finally figured this out a couple of weeks ago, by my children's absence. They're out of school now — out of college — and far away from when we had to manage their comings and goings, to schedule and compromise and drive and correct and helicopter and fret over them.

Our daughter's home for a while, but she'll be gone again in time.

Before she came home for a spell, I noticed how out of rhythm I am.

It was a particular morning, after so many mornings of warm quiet, that became noise and fume and bustle as our dog and I started our daily stroll. Our street, with its comfortable fit of cars, became clogged like a ballpark lot, even at the corners.

Oh: School!

It came on me without warning, not that I was looking. Parents at the school nearby for some reason feel need to drive their children to school for the first couple of weeks, then quickly relax their vigilant chauffeuring. But the streets are now suddenly filled with more cars most times of the day, parents executing the many errands and obligations that school requires.

Long ago I'd know that day, know it for a month and a half, awaiting it, planning for it, buying for it, arguing over it, maybe looking forward to it. But I knew it, knew it very well.

No more.

Now I lose track of time, sometimes even of days of the week. There is the hot time, then the cool time, then the brief green time. When I swim there is the gray time of cold water, and the washed out lengthy time of warming water.

I'm a rather milky Meriwether Lewis, unable to mark time's passage by the seasons, by the changing arc of the sun or subset of stars.

Though grossly unbalanced and jarring, the children's rule of time works. It is the way.

Even if it breaks your heart. When I was briefly a teacher,  I realized the gut-punch kids suffer, especially here in the Sacramento area. School starts at a temperate time, the hot summer seeming to have finally weakened its oppressive hold. But it's a trick. About two weeks in, the sun swoops to within a couple of miles of earth and children and their teachers melt, feeling itchy and cheated.

Too late, and to my horror, I realized that as I teacher I had to know the seasons. Not only know them, but plan and make ready for holidays — all of them, to revel in them, even Father's Day and the Fourth of July! — for the sake of the children.

I'm not a holiday person. This required the most of my meager acting and organizational skills.

For the sake of children, we are all right with summer happening in early June and ending in the hottest heat. We take it for granted that fall is a hot dry time with a superfluous dropping of leaves at the very end.

For children, we see the Fourth of July as the top of the roller coaster, roaring downhill to the end of the ride, everybody out, fun's over.

Now summers no longer necessitate vacations, nor winters hunkering down. They're interchangeable save for clothes. Seasons are whittled down to two, summer and winter; I know by whether a wool beanie is on my head and hot cocoa in my hand which is which.

Maybe that's why the Hallmark®© Channel exists, to remind wayward adults of the signposts. Having cards and trinkets to sell, Hallmark©™ rolls out its teary, cheery shows to herald the coming holidays and restore our vital need to buy our childhood back.

It's a service for the out-of-whack.

Not for me. I've got to grow up now, as an unfettered adult. Time to keep my own time.

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