Perhaps more than any lament of the pre-teen parent set, I hear how busy everyone is. We are not talking, of course, about spending days digging wells with our own hands or scratching out a living picking fruit off a sheer mountain cliff. This is Westchester and Connecticut, so we're mostly talking about the considerable schedule of sports games on this baseball field or that soccer field.
Granted, I might be a bit obtuse here, but to my eye, these "so busy it's crazy" suburban parents appear to be spending the bulk of their time sitting in ready-fold chairs, sipping coffee (iced during summer league play) and eating donuts. Don't get me wrong: I love sitting while consuming coffee and donuts. But how in the name of parenting misperceptions and narcissistic overreaction did this come to define "busy"?
The woe of our collective plight actually looks, to me, like a bit of a racket.
Now, whenever my outrage begins to flower, I am certain to get the opinion of a certain source. She is a mental health professional who doubles as my wife and rarely, if ever, agrees with me. But on this one, I knew, she would be on board.
"You need a new topic," Lori said.
"Would you please get a new topic? This is ridiculous." According to Lori, parents on the sidelines are busy -- not because they are in repose, a half-eaten donut in hand, but because of the array of tasks they are leaving untended.
"You can't do anything while you are watching games," she said. "You can't run errands or do laundry. The busy feeling has to do with being at a game instead of accomplishing other stuff you need to do. What am I supposed to do? Carry loads of laundry to the sidelines? I'm held hostage there until the game ends."
But if the content of our lives is under so much pressure, why do we even go to the games?
"And leave 24 kids, an umpire and two coaches to play in silence? Look, this is ridiculous. Your whole premise makes no sense."
My wife is a beautiful and brilliant and formidable woman and I haven't stayed married 18 years by pressing the issue, whatever the issue. So, well—what do you think? Who is right—me or my formidable wife? Have we lost all perspective in defining our lives, which appear leisurely, as the definition of busy? Or are their cracks in the folding chair and donut façade? You can let me know your take in the space below, on Twitter: @MarekFuchs or by email through marekfuchs.com . Stay mostly civil and I'll be certain to get back to you. If you agree with me, I'll get back to you even quicker. (Just kidding, of course, on that.)
Marek Fuchs is the author of "A Cold-Blooded Business," called "riveting" by Kirkus Reviews. He wrote The New York Times' "County Lines" column about life in Westchester for six years and teaches non-fiction writing at Sarah Lawrence College, in Bronxville. When not writing or teaching, he serves as a volunteer firefighter. You can contact Marek through his website: www.marekfuchs.com or on Twitter: @MarekFuchs.