Sunday, March 14, 2010

Spring break/odds & ends

It's spring break hereabouts. You would think that, as a non-parent, spring break would not affect me.

You would be wrong.

On a positive note, the commuter train tomorrow morning is almost guaranteed to be much less crowded (& much more quiet!) than usual. It will be easier to find a parking spot. It won't be as crowded at the coffee shops in the concourse below my office tower in the morning.


It will be next to impossible to get hold of certain people at the office next week -- who are off with their kids to Florida, or Mexico, or Cuba or the DR, or skiing in Collingwood or Mont Tremblant or Whistler, or just hanging around the city, checking out the King Tut exhibit at the art gallery or the dinosaurs at the local museum.

There will be more than the usual number of children wandering through the underground PATH that links the office towers of downtown Toronto.

Restaurants are likely to be very busy. Dh & I decided to go to Jack Astors for dinner on Saturday night. (The Jack Astor's in question is located in a big-box complex that includes a multiplex movie theatre and a Chuck E. Cheese.) I said to dh, "It's going to be either totally dead or insanely busy" (because of spring break), & even though it wasn't even 5 p.m. yet (!), we still had to wait for a table.

The afternoon rush-hour train home is likely to be just as packed as usual, if not more so -- with an added contingent of parents & kids heading home from an excursion into the city. Many of them don't normally ride the trains, & aren't aware of the "norms" of polite train behaviour that the rest of us have come to know over the years. Things like, if you're going to stand & stare at the board that announces what trains are leaving from what track, try not to do it smack dab in the middle of the path, thus blocking the way for those of us who already know (from years & years of taking the same train from the same track). Things like, if you're going to sit on the steps that lead to the upper level, you should try to get up & clear the path well before the train starts pulling into the next station to allow other travellers an easy exit. Things like trying to keep the conversation to a reasonable decibel level.

I remember vividly one trip home during spring break a few years ago, when two moms & half a dozen kids piled onto the train dh & I normally ride. They were practically bouncing off the walls with excitement from their outing -- in sharp contrast to those of us who had put in another long day at the office & wanted nothing more than to nap or read our newspapers in peace. ; ) The train was already 3/4 full and there was no way they were going to find six seats together. So a few of them sat in seats relatively close to each other. Two of the kids sat on the steps heading to the upper level, & one sat on his mother's lap (although it became apparent he wasn't going to stay there long).

And then they proceeded to shout at each other across the length of the car for the 25-minute duration of the trip. One of the moms let the kids take her cellphone to play with, & then proceeded to shout at them about what to text message to their father. The kids would then shout back what dad had text messaged back, & she would shout back what to text message him in reply.

Needless to say, dh & I were very glad to exit the train that day.

*** *** ***

Speaking of the office, a new person has moved into the cubicle kitty-corner from mine, which has mostly been occupied by part-time students recently. She's with us on "secondment" for the next several months and, since her arrival, the noise level has increased substantially -- lots of calls (both on the office phone & personal cellphone), lots of personal calls to & from her child's nanny, & lots of chit-chat with one of the moms nearby, whose baby is about the same age, comparing mommy notes.

As I think I've written before, I've been lucky: the majority of my immediate co-workers over the past 20 years or so have either been young singles or newlyweds, or older women who were either childless or had older children. So I'm not used to all the mommy chatter. There are getting to be more & more parents of babies & young children around the office, though (& likely to be more in the near future), so I guess I'd better (try to) get used to it. Or get a good pair of earplugs. ; )

*** *** ***

Little Girl Next Door, who will turn 11 shortly -- my yardstick for all things that Katie might have been wearing, doing etc. -- is outside right now with her friends today, zooming around on her rollerblades.

Last week, I arrived home from work (by myself -- dh was working late) & she was outside with a friend. "Guess what, Lori?" she said to me. "My mom got tickets for Disney on Ice this Sunday! We're going with my aunt & my cousin." "That's great," I said, thinking of my own childhood (& grownup, lol) ice show excursions -- & how much I would have loved to share my love of figure skating with Katie. "You're going to have a great time!"

A few weeks earlier, when dh & I arrived home from work, she was outside -- waiting for us, no doubt -- & eager to show off her new "toy" -- a cellphone. I've since seen her standing outside, talking on it. And felt very old. Ten-year-old girls with cellphones?? Katie with a cellphone? I guess it could have happened. It's a very different world than the one I grew up in, that's for sure.


  1. Thinking positive thoughts for your train rides. Hope this week flies by for you.

  2. I have to be honest and say even with kids, I get annoyed by parents like the ones you describe. I get annoyed by them on trains, in restaurants at the movies etc... that being said, it must be so much harder to both be annoyed and be missing Katie.
    I hope the Spring Break stuff and the mommy chatter both go quietly and quickly and things get back to normal(as normal as they can) asap.