Other duties as assigned
As I went online early this morning to take advantage of a fantastic sale on American Girl dolls I realized more than ever how my life has changed since I “retired” nearly three years ago.
My short stints as an adjunct instructor at the University of North Florida and as opinion editor for the St. Augustine Record aside, retirement has pretty much been a misnomer.
My LinkedIn page describes me as a “professional handler” for my 11-year-old daughter and that pretty much sums things up. The job I retired from had me making four or five 156-mile roundtrip commutes to Gainesville each week. My new job has me making 10 14-mile roundtrip commutes to Murray Middle School each week.
On Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Friday’s and Saturdays I make (all told) 10 additional roundtrips of nine miles each to Abella’s School of Dance.
I’m putting fewer miles on my car but I’m spending almost as much time driving and waiting in parent drop-off/pick-up lines.
I retired a couple of years earlier than I had planned. With me working out of town, much of this child handling was taken care of by my wife. Trouble was my wife also had a full-time job making all this handling problematic. We ran the numbers and an earlier retirement for me was possible.
My new job is the best one I’ve ever held, even if I forgot to read the fine print in the job description. Listed under “other duties as assigned” were a whole bunch of things I had little or no experience doing. Number 326 on that list was “online purchases of American Girl dolls to support fundraising efforts for the St. Augustine Ballet.”
Number 57 on the list is “vacuuming the entire house at least weekly because we have a couple of dogs who shed enough hair to fully supply a medium-sized pillow factory.”
Speaking of those dogs, number 32 on the list is “to walk them around our neighborhood for as long as it takes to fill two plastic grocery bags with reprocessed chicken and beef byproducts.”
There are several duties relating to washing and drying clothes, but perhaps the most challenging is number 77, which states “regularly folding the stash of dried clothes both in the dryer and piled on top of the dryer.” I neglected to take the “folding clothes” elective while a student at the University of Florida.
At least 125 of the “other duties as assigned” involve the care and handling of my daughter. I must help her with her homework; ensure she is well-nourished; facilitate problems arising at school; and check to make sure she consumes her vitamin every morning.
I must maturely and compassionately understand how physical changes associated with my daughter’s progression through “tweenhood” might affect her behavior. I must punish her when necessary and make her believe that such is probably the most unfavorite part of my job.
My wife pitches in quite handsomely with many of the duties associated with my new job and does so while working a full-time job herself. I’m grateful for this but, more than anything, I think she’s after my job.
This column could be much longer but I’ll have to stop here because duty number 143 calls. I need to go online and purchase a couple more pink ballet tights for my daughter. Let’s see should I go to Discount Dance Supply or All About Dance? My work is never done.