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Daddy Talk: Managing Life with my Robot-Self

A great way to get a panic attack is using Sunday afternoon to take a look at our family’s schedule for the upcoming week. On tap for the next few days, we have various music lessons, sports practices, scout meetings, and church get-togethers. Somewhere in the middle of all that, we squeeze in work, school, and chores around the house.

It’s highly fortunate, then, that at the beginning of each school year when this machine-like schedule sets in, I transform into a robot. At our house, I’m typically the first one awake, so as the morning reaches that inevitable point when the rest of the family needs to wake up, my robot-self is able to unemotionally go through all the rooms, turn on the lights, and say, “Time to go!” The family doesn’t like me too much at first, but, being a robot, I do not care much.

You may think I’m exaggerating, but if you were able to hear me speak as I’m trying to get the kids in the car for the morning commute, you would notice that I start issuing computer-like, pre-programmed commands: “Everyone, I’m starting the car and backing out of the driveway in exactly 10 seconds — 10, 9, 8, 7…” Even if they’re in the middle of packing a lunchbox, the kids realize that the machine cannot be stopped, so they start throwing anything they can find in the bag. “Uh! How about a Nutrigrain bar and a head of lettuce?!” Sounds good!

My cyborg-ish disposition continues at work as I march through the series of appointments for the day. I get to the office and look stoically at my calendar for the day. If my wife texts me and says we need to talk at my earliest convenience, I may text back, “I’ll give you a call at 4:30.” “But it’s only 8:00 now! Is that your next break?” “I’m afraid so. My day is pretty well booked up. I’ll add you to the queue.”

As you might expect, the problem of being Robot-Tim turns up when it would be helpful to be sensitive and accommodating. When my seven-year old got upset recently and was too embarrassed to go back into the room where his friends were, I could sense my internal RAM memory working futilely to repair the error. Even my computer brain became aware that giving him a countdown, “You will go back and play in 10, 9, 8, 7…” would not be the most effective method for building rapport or confidence with my son.

And have any other parents out there tried handling family dinner out of their robot-psyches? What a disaster that always is! “Now, you, preschooler, tell me how your day was. Wait! Nine-year old, stop dancing in your seat. Second-grader, use a napkin rather than a sock!” In these cases, a relaxing family meal ends with me yelling at everyone about how we’re trying to have a nice, pleasant dinner.

Robot-Tim, it turns out, also has his limits. While other situations could have proven the same truth, the rowdy dinner table is, for me, the archetypal symbol that it is impossible to manage my family and my schedule perfectly. I suppose the best approach I can take is to allow my cyborg self to emerge at key times when it’s necessary to get some movement into the machinery of my schedule. However, I need to be careful to shut down the hard drive when actual human relationships are coming into play.

Tim Krason is learning to multi-task more efficiently in Clinton, MS.

About The Author

Tim Krason

Tim Krason grew up in Tupelo, MS, and settled in the Jackson area after studying at Mississippi College. He has been married to Ashley for 10 years, and they live in Clinton with their three children. Tim teaches English at Hinds Community College in Raymond and has been writing the Daddy Talk column for several years.

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