Daddy Dinner

I believe that there are different types of patience that are required for different situations. Waiting in line at the grocery story, waiting for the computer to bring up a website, and waiting for the cable guy all require patience. Each of us has patience for at least some things and maybe even have an area in which we are particularly patient. My wife, for example, is extremely patient when it comes to on-line shopping. She’ll surf the web for hours looking for just the right product at a price she is willing to pay. My shelf life is 15 minutes – on a good day.  On the other hand I can read a book for hours, while it took my wife longer to read her last book than it took the author to write it.

My wife works in the city three days a week. It is an arrangement she has had since she returned from maternity leave after our first child was born.  Those days she works in the city, she gets home late, so I, who am home early, am responsible for preparing dinner for my family.   Grunt, grunt, hunt and gather, must feed family.   I do not and never have had cooking patience.  I’ll let the water boil, wait for the fries to grow crispy, and even cook the eggs at a low temperature as someone once told me this enhances the taste.  However, I never make anything that takes more than a few minutes to prepare.  Lucky for me, my children have simple tastes. So, in this case, we are on the same exact level. Hello Benjamin Button. See, there are only a few foods – hot dogs, eggs, noodles, French toast, and pizza bagels – I can pretty much guarantee both will eat on a regular basis.  A small sample, yes, but it makes it easy to figure out what to make and, even better little time is needed to prepare.

So, my children’s appetites and my limited cooking patience have a symbiotic relationship.  Now, we need to work on staying in our own beds every night. I am not a patient middle-of-the-night guy.

A Family on the Trail

On a recent outing, my family and I went hiking.  Some outings are more successful than others. You have the slam dunks and the clunkers, but ultimately the goal is to spend time together.

One of the keys to our trips is the car time. We don’t have a television in our car. Old fashioned, I know. I understand a television in the car if you are going on a lengthy trip, but generally I am not into it.  My children watch more than enough television, thank you very much.  They can suffer through a car ride television less.  So, we are resigned to talking or playing word games.  Wholesome fun John-Boy.  In reality, the key to a pleasant Bernstein car trip is the snacks.  My wife packs foods to cover all food groups:  healthy, salty, and sweet.  Yup, she’s got it covered.  Ultimately, however, my children are drinkers.  Often, they are asking for a drink before we even get out of the driveway. Once they get the drinks, the countdown begins as to when they have to go to the bathroom. So, a chunk of our ride is spent on negotiating over when the children can have their first drink. These negotiations are draining, and I think we could learn from the recent debt ceiling negotiations – less acrimonious.

Upon reaching the hiking spot (after a bathroom break, drink negotiations, bagel pickup and gas fill-up), we filed out of the car and headed to the trail. Someone who did not know my family at all would have gotten a good read on each of us within the first 5 minutes of us hitting the trails.  Shamai was asking to be carried and whining for some apple juice, Bezalel after clashing with his brother, was 10 steps ahead of everyone else, Sara was holding the backpack with the food and fiddling with the camera, and I was nibbling on a bagel trying to keep up with Bezalel.  Things got better. An hour later we reached the end of the trail. Shamai was coaxed to walk on his own (carry me, carry me – please no) the whole way, Bezalel did not fight with his brother, Sara got to take pictures, and I enjoyed my bagel.  Splitting up into twos was a good idea.  The children couldn’t fight with each other, and they could have a parent to himself.   

After sitting at a picnic table and enjoying some of those snacks, we headed home. With Shamai sleeping and Bezalel zoned out listening to Sara’s headphones, it was a peaceful ride home. That’s family time.

Doctors and Beer

It has been a while since I went to the doctor, and I couldn’t put it off any longer. My wife has been encouraging, no not bugging, me to go.  “You have to make an appointment with the doctor. I’m too busy to worry about you going to the doctor too.”  Yes dear, she was right, this time.  I wasn’t consciously avoiding an appointment but wasn’t rushing either. I had plenty of excuses: nobody around here takes our insurance, I feel fine, I don’t have time, etc, etc. 

After reviewing the paperwork (which had been mailed to me beforehand), the receptionist sent me to billing. I was told, “You know the doctor does not accept your insurance.”  Yes I knew and with that I was instructed to take a seat in the large near empty waiting room.  The wait was brief, as promised, and I was led in to a room by a nurse. She did the standards: took my pulse, weighed me, and then told me to take off my shirt and she would be back in a moment.  “Tee shirt too?” I asked. “Yes.”  I sat in the waiting room feeling a bit awkward and cold. After the EKG was taken (and some chest hairs removed), I was told the doctor would be in to see me shortly. The nurse handed me a gown and told me to undress. “Everything,” I asked trying not to let me disbelief and discomfort come through. “No, you can leave on your underwear.” Good.   

After stripping down (and getting back on the scale – I knew that number was too high), and changing into the gown, I waited.  The doctor came in to the room – calm and casual.  “Aren’t you supposed to be wearing the gown?”   I’m the patient. “No, I’m not even wearing a tie.  I don’t bother with the gown. It makes the patients nervous.” He asked the usual questions about family history.  He also asked about my sleep patterns and then talked about his own. He asked about my family and talked about his own. He asked if I exercise and then talked about his regimen.  This guy was cool. I did feel relaxed. We actually had a conversation. I thought to myself I wouldn’t mind having a beer with this guy.

After explaining the process that he has his patients go through, he said there was one more thing he had to do. He said it was a little awkward, but I was at that age, and he had to check. He instructed me to lie on my side with my rear end facing him. Ohh, that’s not pleasant. He pronounced the prostate fine. I smiled, said thanks, and left the office. I don’t think I would want to have a beer with him anymore.

Turn Out the Light

I am good at budgeting – runs in my blood. As I mentioned before, I am perpetually budgeting. This habit comes from my parents. My father was an accountant, and my mother is perpetually budgeting, though these days it is about time. (“Larry, we need to leave the house in 5 minutes so we can get to the train by 8:20!”)  Having to be careful to make ends meet instills that sort of thing in you.

I walked down to my basement when I got home today, minutes before 2:00 pm.  The television was on and it took some strength for me to not get very annoyed.  I quickly deduced that the television had been on since 9:00 am, when my four-and-a-half-year-old son Shamai came upstairs and instead began watching in my room.  He also needs to be reminded to turn off lights.  Kids!  I’ll have to remind him about the memo. “What memo?”  He said that too. While I did not actually send out a memo, I certainly thought about it.   It would have said something like, “We appreciate you being particularly aware of your electrical usage. Make sure to turn off lights when exiting a room, do not keep the refrigerator open for excessive amounts of time, and turn off the television upon exiting the room. Thank you in advance for your cooperation. The Management.”

The politicians finally came to an agreement and the debt ceiling was raised. They raised the debt ceiling by over 2 trillion dollars and are supposedly cutting 2.5 trillion dollars off of future debt.  It does not seem to make sense. Instead of cutting the deficit, it will just not be growing as fast as it would have been.  Well, that’s not so comforting.  Remember the movie Dave?  Kevin Kline is called on to become president after the real president had a serious medical issue.   The big joke is that the President and Dave are played by Kevin Kline.  So when Dave, the regular guy becomes president, no one except for the inner circle realizes there is a new president.  Anyway, I remember a scene where Dave’s accountant, played by Charles Grodin, is called to the White House. He spends the night and by the next morning when he leaves, after going through the budget line by line, he has balanced the budget.

I think we should give that guy a call about the budget.  I would give it a shot, but I’m still trying to reduce our line item on electrical usage.