Daylight Saving Saves No One

Dear Tobias:

I know you're just a wee lad -- only 14 months and all - so you can be excused for your unfamiliarity with Daylight Saving Time and the proper etiquette surrounding it. 

You've been a good member of the team so far, but unless you want to be benched or traded to another team, you're gonna have to figure this one out buddy.

Did you see the clock this morning? It said 4:46 a.m. 

As in 4 o'clock. IN THE MORNING! A classmate from high school calls that "the butt crack of dawn." I tend to agree.

It's when donut makers, newspaper delivery folks and farmers start their day. Not us.

Did you happen to look out the window? Totally dark. That's a dead give away, Mister. It means it's nighttime and, stay with me here, I know it's a hard concept, but nighttime means sleep time.  

As if you needed anymore clues to the obvious, did you notice that no one else in the house was awake? The lights were off. Everyone was quiet. 

Except you! 

Listen, most of us big people don't get it either. We change the clocks twice a year because that's what we're told to do. It's a centuries old notion to give us more light on delicious summer nights and dreadful winter mornings.

The Internet tells me it saves energy, encourages shopping, fuels the economy and cuts down on traffic accidents. It also tells me that pedestrian fatalities skyrocket the first few weeks after the clocks are set back in autumn. 

That's what we call yin and yang. You'll learn about that later. 

Anyway, Wikipedia tries to explain the arbitrary time change like this: 

"Daylight Saving is the practice in some places of adjusting clocks forward in the Spring and back in the Fall, usually by one hour, so that the adjustment causes parents heads to explode when their children wake an hour early and caterwaul to the heavens until those parents drag themselves from bed, scrape their brains off the floor and walk like zombies from Day of the Dead."

Ok, so I made up the back half of that definition.

But now that you know what Daylight Saving is, here are the new family rules:

Dinner is at 5 o'clock. Please don't start stalking me through the house an hour earlier, head-butting my legs and screaming at my back. 

Bedtime is at 7 p.m. Don't you dare flame out any sooner. 

And now, for the non-negotiable....

Morning starts at 6 a.m. - the NEW 6 o'clock - and not a minute earlier. Break this rule, Mr. Man, and we're sending you to Grandpa's house. 

Hugs and kisses, 



Hell, in haiku form

Brain and face frozen

Concrete in my sinuses

Two fever-racked kids

Something about the craptastic-ness of the day inspired me to free verse. Now it's your turn. Capture your own day in haiku and share it with me in the comments section. You can make me envious of your fabulous good fortune or we can laugh in shared misery.

What's it going to be?




It rained throughout the day. The block party moved inside. A scarecrow stole the first platter of candy. My oldest spiked a fever and couldn't go trick-or-treating. 

It should have been a scary bad Halloween. But it wasn't. 

"I thought it was great," said the kid who spent the night quarantined on the porch. 

We dressed in costumes, scooped slimy goo out of pumpkins, carved goofy Jack-o'-lanterns then waved 'good-bye' to the rest of the gang. This wasn't what we planned. It's not how it should have been. Sick on Halloween. The holiday she's been talking about since last year. 

All dressed up as a rough and tough cowboy, Esme leaned over the porch railing and wept quietly as her siblings marched away. Plastic pumpkin candy collectors in their hands. 

Eventually, the tears rolled away like the rain and we carved a new kind of Halloween fun. We talked about school and yoga class. We collected a pile of pumpkin seeds to roast. We went inside to eat dinner and caught a scarecrow stealing candy. We watched the trick-or-treaters and enjoyed the costumes. 

Dusk turned to night; Tobias went to bed; and Desmond and Josephine made their way back down the street knocking on doors and collecting candy. 

Esme leaned over the railing again - laughing this time instead of crying. We could see Desmond waving a purple glow stick he scored at the party. And we could hear him as he greeted the neighbors. 

KNOCK KNOCK -- door opens

"I'm a dog!"

KNOCK KNOCK -- door opens

"I'm a dog!"

Esme laughed and laughed and mimicked her brother. "I'm a dog. I'm a dog." She looked back at me over the railing. No tears. Just a big smile. 

Once home, Desmond and Josephine gave Esme the bag of candy they gathered for her. The three of them sat down and immediately set to sorting their booty and trading treats. 


This morning, the fever subsided, the cough is gone and the talk is all about the costumes they'll wear next year. Planning for Halloween. Already.

"I want to be a fairy with wings," Desmond tells us. 

"Boys can't be that," Josephine insists.  

"Sure they can," I say. 

Looks like it won't be a typical Halloween next year either.



I planned to dress as a ladybug for Halloween. Maybe I should go as a pig.

That's right. Our house may currently be infected with swine flu.

Or not.

The doctor doesn't know and, of course, they're not testing. 

Esme started coughing last night and this morning her cheeks looked like someone splashed them with red paint. Her temperature: 101.8. The doctor took her immediately. Checked her lungs. A-oK. Then sent her home with instructions to wash her hands and take it easy.

Happy Halloween, Dr. Killjoy!

Of course, Esme dissolved into tears at the table when I told her this meant no trick-or-treating. And worse, no block party! 

For weeks, we've been talking about the fete the street is throwing. We're blocking traffic this afternoon and putting up tents and tables. It's a potluck party with kids games, adult beverages, costumes and the second annual kids photo. 

The first rule of parenting is be flexible. Actually, I just made that up to suit my purposes.  Better first rules might be patience, understanding, a well-stocked liquor cabinet, a good shrink on speed dial.  I'm sure you have your own.

Anyway, I switched gears quickly and now Esme and I have a party of our own planned. On the porch. Where we can see the block partiers but not infect them. We'll dress up and carve pumpkins and have a time of it. 

So, where am I going to find a pig snout and corkscrew tail on such short notice?



You know the stories about hard city streets where dealers sell drugs next to kids on the playground? 

I kinda feel like I scored at the playground yesterday. 

The dope? A swine flu shot.

For weeks, I've been checking the web site at my pediatrician's office for updates on H1N1 shots but every time I look I find the same answer: No word on when we're getting the vaccine. 

And when they do get it? They're only giving it to kids ages 12-24 months. 

Let's see.... that leaves five of the six members of our family unprotected. 

Not liking those odds. 

I got good news when Esme's school sent word they'd vaccinate her but at the same time I learned Josephine and Desmond's preschool won't. 

Health officials declared H1N1 a pandemic months ago, the President declared it a national emergency a week ago, and friends and family talk in hushed whispers about the people they know laid flat - or worse - by this flu. 

But I can't find anyone to vaccinate my kids - or me - and the clock is running. 

Tick tock. Tick tock. 

Enter the Ladies of the Playground. We head to the school park every day because if my children were furry and four-footed they'd be Australian Sheepdogs. In other words, they need to RUN. Parents who don't know them frequently watch them run, jump, climb and play and say,"They'll sleep well tonight." 

Not true. The only way they'll sleep well is if they run, jump, climb and play first thing in the morning, then after lunch, then at the park, then again when we get home. THEY. DO. NOT. TIRE. EASILY.

Anyway, we head to the park for their sanity, yes. But also for mine. I need to get out of the house and talk to people taller than three feet with something more interesting to say than "SHE WON'T SHARE! HE PUSHED ME! THAT'S MY TOY!"

In addition to good company and friendship, though, I also find information: New restaurants. Local politics. Fun classes. Preschool openings. 

And on Wednesday, I learned about a clinic next to the local hospital giving out free H1N1 shots to parents and kids. No restrictions. 

You mean I don't have to wait indefinitely until my pediatrician's office finally gets the supply? I don't have to wait hours on line outside our city health department like people are doing elsewhere in Maryland, Virginia and DC? I can simply call and make an appointment?

The mother told me 'Yes.' Another confirmed it. A third was incredulous. Just that morning she got turned away from a clinic in the neighboring county after they blew through their doses in less than an hour.

And yet. 

I made the call this morning and got a same-day appointment. I made a separate one for Kent next week when Esme gets hers. 

This weekend, there's a free clinic planned at the local middle school and I bet - I KNOW - the demand will outstrip the supply. By a lot. Based on experiences elsewhere, I'm pretty sure there will be countless people left standing on a line wrapped around the building who are turned away without protection from a pandemic flu. 

I'm sickened for them. But I'm also incredibly thankful we're not them. 

I thank my playground drug connection.