Stephen Burke

Daylight savings time has ended for 2019, and to hear people talk it might seem otherwise, but not everyone is unhappy about the earlier arrival of darkness each evening. 

To every thing there is a season, Ecclesiastes says; for now, the time has passed for activities such as swimming in Cayuga Lake, outdoor dining, and non-brisk walks.

Now is the season for quiet time inside, discovering things like new teas and books, and enjoying other domestic comforts (such as comforters). 

This kind of homely leisure is (or can be) a regular reality for single persons. People with children might not have much space (literal or otherwise) or time for even such modest luxuries, but I recently spoke with a friend with two kids who expressed strong appreciation for nightfall before 6 p.m.

Her kids are too young to consider time abstractly, so early darkness solidifies mother’s authoritative pronouncements of bedtimes: which, unbeknownst to them, will come earlier and earlier each night till the end of December, and after that for as long as mother can get away with it. 

It doesn’t pertain to nightfall per se, but recently I went with a friend to a downtown movie at 11 a.m. on a Thursday, a regular weekly showing I was unaware of, and seemed odd to me, but I learned constitutes an event called “Cry Baby Cinema,” meant for adults with children.

The theater’s publicity states that strollers and carriers are welcome. The volume of the movie is lowered and lights are kept dim. The movies don’t change: it’s the regular slate of showings, not special family films. 

My friend knew of this program from a decade or so ago when her daughter was a toddler. The family lives in the exurbs of Ithaca with no nearby neighbors, and the girl is an only child, so at that stage in their lives the mother was frequently seeking out activities for the two of them. 

This particular morning we had gone to see a documentary on Miles Davis, and it seemed unlikely to me any toddler would be interested in such a feature, but my friend said actually the idea is that adults can watch the (normal) movie, and the kids can play or run around in a newly anarchy-inviting environment, until they get tired or bored and fall asleep in the semi-darkness in one of the big, plush chairs. 

Time management can be tricky in multiple senses of the word, especially with children. 

Children are essentially (if not perpetually) delightful, maybe never more than in their early years, when they are easy to manipulate (or let us stick with that more benign word, “trick”). 

Years ago I helped in the raising of a child (my nephew) and remember taking him to the Commons, a great place for child-minding, with things to do and see and plenty of space for kids to run around, with no worries about cars. 

These excursions would generally include (especially if the day was even mildly inclement) a stop at the old Rothschild’s building, which at the time was largely vacant but still had a functioning escalator, the only one in town. I touted this as an attraction from a theme park, practically, and it was usually good for a dozen or so rides by my charge, and one or two by me. 

Eating out, his father and I would gravitate to the Nines, not necessarily for the menu but for the bar stools, where after his pizza slice we could seat the youthful youngster in front of a video machine and let him push buttons, which he thought orchestrated the action on the screen. He didn’t know about quarters. 

Of course, children rightly require both money and time, and one should be happy to give them both. I have a friend who just took his newly-teenaged daughter on a birthday trip to New York City, and no doubt neither the cost nor the (related) time off work were easy to muster; but no doubt, either, it was worth every cent and minute, because soon, if the teen proves typical, she won’t be interested in any such trip with her parents no matter how deluxe, for at least a few grueling years: another type of dark time, maybe, but like most, only temporary and, with the right attitude, manageable.

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