Dear Dave

Wednesday 10 March 2010

Making a date with a diary

Dear Dave,

I need to start carrying a diary.

It's not that I have any social engagements of my own to record, it's just that coordinating all the kids' clubs and activities is becoming more than my brain can handle. One of the children asks if they can have a friend round after school and I end up running through the following mental checklist:
  1. What day is it? By this, I mean which day of the week is it? If by some fluke I should happen to recall the actual date, it's no good to me. My life is run on a weekly basis. Monday is Fraser's drama class, Tuesday is Marie's Art Club, Wednesday is football for Lewis AND dance for Marie, etc.
  2. What are the kids signed up for? Knowing the day of the week is a start, knowing what that means is the secret knowledge of a primary carer.

    Me: How was work, dear?
    Sarah: Fine. Did Marie have fun at football today?
    Me: She had art.
    Sarah: I thought she did football on a Wednesday.
    Me: That was last term. Lewis does football on a Wednesday now.
    Sarah: Not Monday then?
    Me: That was before the summer, back when Fraser had Science Club.
    Sarah: Science Club has finished? He liked that.
    Me: There's still Maths Challenge - that's every other Friday.
    Sarah: What about Junior Explorers?
    Me: That's the third Thursday of any month with five Tuesdays.
    Sarah: Oh... Right...

    Not that anyone other than the primary carer needs to know this information, of course. In fact, it's probably safer if they don't. The strain of keeping track of it all addles the brain:

    Sarah: So did Marie enjoy the art then?
    Me: Seemed to. She painted a picture of a rainbow dustbin and wants you to have it to put up at the office.
    Sarah: That's sweet. It's only going to make Tracy more broody, though.
    Me: Tracy?
    Sarah: Tracy. You know Tracy - I've been working with her for two years.
    Me: I've lost track. Which one exactly...?
    Sarah: I was talking about her yesterday.
    Me: Er...
    Sarah: She came to our Christmas party.
    Me: I don't quite recall...
    Sarah (sighing): She dropped a mince pie and lost it in her cleavage.
    Me: Oh, yeah, following you now...
  3. Is there anything special on? Sometimes the weekly plan isn't enough. Annual, monthly and one-off events crop up on occasion. This is where most people would resort to a standard calendar. Since I've been known to struggle with dating cheques even on my own birthday, I tend to opt for a more ecclesiastical format. In my head, I don't pencil in Fraser's Boys' Brigade trip as the 27th - it becomes The Second Sunday after Lewis' Birthday. Marie's school show is the morning of The Third Friday of Swimming Lessons.

    Getting the dentist to write something like The Last Wednesday before the Endless Expanse of the Summer Holidays on my appointment card is always hard work, however.
  4. What do I need to do? I don't really need to know what clubs the kids are at. I just have to remember when they need to be where and what equipment they have to have with them. Remembering to collect them is also advantageous (although, if you believe their siblings, not necessarily essential.)
Deciding whether a visitor can be fitted into the timetable can be taxing. It usually involves several seconds of staring at the ceiling while making thoughtful noises. And that's just to remember the checklist.

I really should start carrying a diary. This has been the case for a while and the main thing putting me off is that my pockets are already full. Thinking about it, though, how much would it help? For it to work effectively, I'd need to go through filling in events and times and places. What are the chances? In reality, a typical week would look like this:

Monday: Drama
Tuesday: AC
Wednesday: Dance, Football
Thursday: Ella --> here, Rob - lunch (12?)
Friday: AB, RB, no BB
Saturday: Lewis --> Dan (?), Cinema

I'd have to translate the shorthand code, remember the details, figure in Sarah's schedule, try to think if there was anything I'd forgotten to write down and then add in routine items such as school times, bath nights and church.

I might be as quick and accurate asking the kids:

Me: What's happening today?
Fraser: Nothing.
Lewis: There's school.
Fraser: Aw! Why did you tell him?
Me: It's Wednesday. I knew there was school. Anything else happening?
Marie: I'm going to wear a pink hair clip.
Me: Er, I meant, is there anywhere else you guys have to go?
Fraser: No.
Lewis: Yes.
Marie: France! I want to go to France!

Then again, maybe I'll stick to the checklist...

Yours in a woman's world,


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