Benny and his friend Griffin at Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Busy Busy Busy

"I'm busy busy busy and I've got a lot to do,
and I haven't got a minute to explain it all to you …"

Those are the first two lines of a great children's song performed by
Kevin Kline and it describes our lives perfectly for the last two

"… For on SundayMondayTuesday I have people I must see,
and on WednesdayThursdayFriday I'm as busy as can be …"

Busyness, of course, has its own momentum. It's the lack of advance planning that kills me. It's a vicious cycle. Let's take Friday night's birthday party, for example, for Benny's little friend Lily.

Ron and I wanted to bring Lily a songbook and CD called "Philadelphia Chickens" (which contains the "Busy Busy Busy" song, actually). If we'd thought ahead, we would have picked up a copy while touring the Retail Heaven district in South San Francisco last weekend. Piece of cake.

But, of course, we don't think that far ahead. So Ron and I have been dashing out on our lunch hours this week to Financial District bookstores to find something suitable. Pickings were slim. Ron finally went over to the giant Borders on Union Square, where eight copies of the book were stacked near the back. I told Ron he should have stocked up. Benny has 15 classmates and they're all gonna have parties. I can feel it.

"… With the most important meetings and the most important calls,
we have to do so many things and post them on the walls …"

The list just grows. I still don't have a California driver's license. I still don't know my phone number by heart. Benny's preschool needed a form filled out by a pediatrician, which required finding a pediatrician, making an appointment, finding the office, etc. Now I've finally got the damn form, but I keep forgetting to bring it to the

And I just realized we've never washed Benny's nap stuff at preschool. Not once. In Benny's other schools, the staff just stuffed the bulging pillowcase under his cubby. But this school obviously expects parents to be proactive about blankies and sheets, which in our case means they never get washed. God knows what they look like. I'm afraid to find out.

One sad result of all this busyness is that I have limited time with Benny. I take him to school every morning, which is actually nice, because he's a sunny little guy in the morning. Ron picks him up in the afternoon and plays with him while I get dinner going and then the whole bath-story-bed landing cycle begins.

"…And we have to have our lunches,
though we don't have time to chew
and we have order many things in gray and navy blue …"

So I decided to slow things down a little. On Tuesday morning I stuck around the preschool a little bit
instead of dashing off to catch the train. Benny's been a little resistant about going to school lately, not fighting it, but unenthusiastic. I spent a little time watching the kids and chatting with a teacher. She's concerned about two bigger boys in the school, that they're not listening to the teachers, not gentle with the younger kids. Should she talk to the parents? "For Christ's sake yes," I said, trying not to roll my eyes. Certainly that's a better solution than telling the mother of one of the smallest boys in the class.

At 2:30 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, I picked up my backpack, said goodbye to my coworkers, and lit out of work early. As I walked up to the Dinosaur Preschool 30 minutes later, a 66 bus creaked to a stop nearby, and a familiar little face popped through the curtains to see the bus.

Well. The look on Benny's face when he saw me, two hours before the regular pickup, was indescribable. He wasn't in a hurry to leave, though – the children were singing songs while a teacher played the piano, so he zipped back down the stairs to join the fun.

This gave me a chance to corner the preschool's director, in the tiny kitchen. I gave one small hint about "bigger children" and the director immediately pinpointed the two boys and talked about how she would address that. Then I headed down the stairs, where Benny and some other children were performing a little Halloween play. (Benny was the Happy Pumpkin.)

As we walked back to the bus stop, I asked Benny what was his favorite part of the day.

"When you came to my school!" Benny shouted.

I wasn't sure whether to be happy or sad about that. But at least I'd stepped off that busyness treadmill and spent some time concentrating on Benny.

"… Yes, we think there is a reason
to be running neck-and-neck
and it must be quite important —
but if not, well, what the heck."

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