Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spring us outta here

“But we were gonna play that game where everyone pretends the clocks are different!” my son Evan protested, throwing out his opening gambit for the evening’s bedtime-delay strategy.

“It’s not really a game.  It’s just something everybody does,” I said.  It’s tough to explain Daylights Saving Time to a four-year-old when you’re not really certain about it yourself. 

“You said that the days aren’t really longer, but the sun will go down later because everyone pretends something with the clocks.  I want to play,” he said.   

I wasn’t surprised that he wanted to play a game that magically makes an hour disappear.  Most nights, he has to work a lot harder to make that hour vanish, usually by sitting on the potty with his head resting on his hands, saying “No, not yet” every few minutes. 

On Facebook this year, I saw a record number of parents springing forward to their keyboards to complain about the hour shift.  Non-parents might find this behavior somewhat whiny, but that’s because they might not understand that a daily routine is the only thing separating a family with small children from a complete societal collapse, where chaos and anarchy reign supreme and Duplo blocks become deadly projectiles.  

Without a dependable routine, children would be running naked around the house, drawing in non-washable marker on the walls and each other, subsisting entirely on Cheez-its and shutting their fingers in the dishwasher door, all while their parents lay helpless on the living room floor, hogtied with Rainbow Loom bracelets.

So I usually greet any change to our routine with a sense of dread, the slight shift sending us one step closer to careening into the abyss.  It’s already a very thin line that keeps our living room from turning into a post-apocalyptic hellscape. 

But this year, I’m just happy to have survived to reach this milestone on the calendar.  Anything to put this winter and its polar vortices behind us.  Over the past several months, “polar vortex” easily topped “norovirus” on the list of vocabulary I’d prefer to have never learned.     

Most winters, I bundle up and walk the dog every evening.  This winter, I gave up sometime in mid-November. 

“Sorry, animal, we’ll just have to get fat together,” I said to Memphis as she sat at my feet, the bitter wind blowing tiny spears of ice across our yard-turned-tundra.   

To survive this winter, many of us turned to increasingly desperate measures.  We’re not proud of it, but for a few days there, we all cared about ice dancing.  We were already not so sure about devoting a few days each quadrennium to caring about figure skating, but there we went, losing our minds over figure skating without jumps, which is like basketball without slam dunks, or football without concussions.

“How bad was the winter of ’14?” our grandchildren will ask us.

“It was so bad, we cared about ice dancing,” we’ll say.

“Noooooo,” they’ll reply in hushed tones, before looking back down at their phones, ignoring us again.

As the forecast starts to show a few days that aren’t guaranteed to be absent of any redeeming qualities, I’m wondering if my imagination made this winter worse in my mind than it actually was.  Was it really that much colder?  Did we really get that much more snow?  Or was it Facebook’s fault, since we’ve been listening to each other whine about it so much more?

Turns out, the National Weather Service recently released a “Winter Misery Index,” confirming this winter as a top-five performer among the most miserable winters we’ve ever endured.  At least we got to skip an hour of it.

You can wait six months until your clocks are right again with Mike Todd at

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