In like a lion: Why March is a beastly month for parents

This week’s blog post is by The Paternity Test co-host Matt Boresi, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood of Chicago with his wife (“Professor Foster”) and their 5-year-old daughter, Viva, whose is ready for spring, or to build another snowman.

T.S. Eliot said that April is the cruelest month. He was from St. Louis and should have known better–April is cake. If it is possible for a month to be harder on the body and the spirit than January and February, March can do it. March is the month that is spring in theory but always winter in practice, and thus, it ends up being nearly five weeks of heartbreak. It comes in a like a lion, if a lion belched snow, freezing rain, icy winds and misery, and goes out like a lamb, if a lamb belched snow, freezing rain, icy winds and misery. It’s especially hard on parents, most likely because parents are overworked, underslept and getting old, so pretty much anything involving misery is extra hard on us … and March gleefully brings the misery. How, specifically?

Daylight Savings

Daylight Savings Time is antiquated, confusing and pointless. Like the Electoral College, that venerable American institution intended to keep madmen with limited demographic appeal out of the White House (oops), Daylight Savings is an inexplicable nuisance. There are conflicting reports on how and why Daylight Savings Time came to be. It may have begun with Germans in WWI wanting to save coal in their efforts to conquer Europe. Some people say it’s for the farmers–although how much farmers like it is in dispute; dairy farmers in particular say it just makes the cows peevish–and some say it took off during the Carter era fuel crisis. None of those reasons resonate with me. All I know is that my kid’s sleep schedule gets thrown off by a crucial hour, turning her into a rage-prone tyrant, and it throws my sleep schedule off, turning me into a rage-prone tyrant. DST began early Monday, and I spent the entire day feeling hungover while being physically and mentally leapt upon by my daughter, who was more peevish than a dairy cow trying to reset a dashboard clock. I get more jetlagged by the time change every year, and I’m still not entirely myself today (Tuesday). They say heart attacks go up on “Spring Forward” day, and I’m pretty sure I’m three Italian beefs and a time change from a grabber myself.

Snow

I built a snowman in December. It was lovely. My daughter and I bonded. We put a tiara on it. We took a picture. I’m good till next year. No one is looking for a snow day in March. And as for getting the kids dressed for school, by March my daughter has lost one glove out of EVERY pair she owns, and so have I. Yesterday she wore one blue glove and one pink mitten, and I wore one black glove with a hole and put my other hand in my pocket like Alanis Morissette without the Coulier baggage. We’re emotionally through with winter, but March isn’t through with freezing us.

Spring Breaks

Spring Break dates are all over the place. The odds of your child’s Spring Break lining up with your own or your spouse’s (if you’re some kind of teachers) are slim. And now at many private schools, the breaks are TWO weeks long so the one percent can spend more time in St. Barts lighting cigars with hundred dollar bills and laughing at the thought of people without health coverage. You’re probably too busy or too broke to travel, and that probably means you need to go to work, but your kid is home for a long stretch, and that means added nanny hours. So now, instead of returning to Padre Island to spin in a barber chair as shooters are dumped in your mouth to Sisqo songs, you’re scrambling to find any old sitter for your stir-crazy child who is drawing on the walls with markers for a week instead of learning their vowel sounds somewhere where the instructors are thoroughly background checked.

St. Patrick’s Day

Nothing says, “Thank you for driving the snakes out of Ireland” like wearing green beads and spray painting Wrigleyville with the contents of your stomach. And that’s what the youth of Chicago do every year … for TWO weekends. If St. Patrick’s Day hasn’t happened yet, why was the river green and why were the floors of the L trains yellow LAST weekend? And if the river was green last weekend, then how come everyone will be downing “car bombs” to the Pogues again NEXT weekend? You can’t join in on these celebrations now that you’ve got kids, so the shenanigans of Chicago’s twenty-somethings just grind your gears. Hey, it’s great to be Irish. And who isn’t Irish? It’s un-American NOT to be Irish, but Erin Go Bragh somewhere else, I’m trying to commute.

Basketball

Stop saying you love college basketball. College basketball stinks. The good players only play for a second before the NBA snatches them, which means you are left watching about a thousand teams full of neophytes with lousy scoring percentages. That’s if you can stand to watch at all after experiencing your coworkers get nothing done for weeks as they agonize over their dumb brackets. And most of your coworkers who aren’t into basketball are making up fake alternative brackets, like which regeneration of Doctor Who is their favorite, or which of Hanna Barbera’s own Scooby-Doo knocks-offs was best: The Funky Phantom? Speedbuggy? Goober and the Ghost Chasers featuring the Partridge Kids? (The smart money is on Jabberjaw.) Coworkers who fill out brackets are like coworkers who smoke–you know they’re going to work half as hard as you and get away with it somehow, and you only came to work to get away from your kid who is nuts from Daylight Savings Time, so you don’t want to pick up their slack.

There you go: a month of jetlag, snow storms, weak sports, missed vacations and soda bread. March can go out like whatever critter it wants, it just needs to go out.

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