The Mast-Head: Weekday Marathons

The great holiday driving marathon has begun

   Bedtime comes early this time of the year, or at least we try. I’m up an hour before the kids have to be out of bed to get a couple of ounces of coffee down before trying to cajole them into their clothes, to brush their teeth, to eat breakfast. If they make the bus, the older two are gone by 7:30. Then it’s time to stuff the youngest one into his car seat for his ride to school.
    At the other end of the day, the great holiday driving marathon has begun in which my wife, Lisa, and I shuttle the kids to and from lessons, parties, rehearsals, and shopping. Somewhere amid all of this moving around we have neglected to figure out what to cook for dinner and there aren’t even enough eggs in the fridge to whip up a batch of pancakes in the morning.
    Because Lisa cannot get away from her work as a teacher as easily as I can duck out of the Star office, my days have been punctuated by a midday run to pick up child number three from prenursery and take him to his baby sitter’s, and another at 5 p.m. to get child number two after play practice.
    Compounding matters is the rate at which my gas-guzzling truck burns through my wallet’s contents. And worse, how much these trips contribute in greenhouse gases. This has had me coveting a more fuel-efficient vehicle, but the price tag of what I really want, a nifty Volkswagen turbo diesel wagon that goes 40 miles on a gallon, is steep. Even factoring in the savings on fuel, the payback period would be long, and there is always something else that jumps ahead as a spending priority.
    So I lumber on in my rattling 2000 Toyota, getting to know all the potholes between here and Bridgehampton, watching the Canada geese drifting overhead toward their nighttime redoubt on Poxabogue Pond.
    By the time I pick up Evvy and head back east for Ellis, it is dark, and since it is only 5:30 or so, traffic is heavy. My eyes, tired from a day looking at my computer screen, strain as the oncoming headlights glare off my dusty windshield; the lines that carry the washer fluid having corroded away 50,000 miles ago.
    We are home before 6 most weeknights. If it is clear, I try to get the kids to look up at the stars on our way in from the driveway. Lisa and Adelia, our firstborn, get home a little later. By then I usually have something or other going for dinner.