There’s plenty to do on a rainy Saturday

This column first appeared in the Joplin Globe on May 9, 2006.

It had all the makings of your basic busy Saturday.

There was a time when, for me, the words busy and Saturday were mutually exclusive. When I was single, my idea of a busy Saturday was one when I had to get up before noon – on Sunday.

My Saturdays, in those days, were not exactly chock-full of accomplishments. They weren’t the sort of days when I had to sit down and make up a “to-do” list. If I did make a Saturday “to-do” list in those days, it would have read something like this:

No. 1: Wake up.

No. B: Find out where I am.

I’m married now, and I have an 8-year-old daughter named Emma. So my Saturdays are a little different from when I was single. Some Saturdays, we even have to set our alarm clock and make a “to-do” list.

Last Saturday was one of those Saturdays. Emma had a soccer game at 9:30 a.m. I am the coach of Emma’s soccer team, which means I pretty much need to be at the game too. After the game, Emma was supposed to go to a birthday party in Joplin at 11 a.m. Then, at 1 p.m., she needed to be at Missouri Southern State University for something called “Young Authors.”

It was to be a full day.

On Saturday morning, the alarm clock went off at 6:30. At 8:30, we got up. Emma was already dressed in her soccer uniform and working on her third Pop-Tart. At 8:45, I went outside to get the newspaper. I noticed it was raining. At 8:47, my phone rang. It was a parent of one of Emma’s soccer teammates. She wanted to know if the game had been canceled. I told her no. She didn’t sound happy. At 8:50, our phone rang again. It was another parent wanting to know if the game had been canceled. I said no. She didn’t sound happy. At 9 a.m., my wife came downstairs. She wanted to know if the game had been canceled. I said no. She didn’t sound happy.

At 9:15, we drove out to the soccer fields. Well, we think they were the soccer fields, but we couldn’t really tell what with the water and all. I stopped a guy and asked if the soccer games had been canceled. He said no. Then he swam away. He didn’t sound happy. At 9:45, I told the two parents who showed up for the game that they might as well go home. They didn’t sound happy.

At 10 a.m., we arrived home, and my wife told Emma to hurry and change for the birthday party. At 10:15, my wife found Emma, still in her soccer uniform, watching TV. My wife asked Emma why she hadn’t changed her clothes yet. Emma said, “Oh, did you mean today?” My wife said something else to Emma. She didn’t sound happy.

At 11:05, we arrived at the birthday party in Joplin. Emma was mad at my wife. My wife was mad at Emma. They both were mad at me. And it was raining.

Emma had fun at the party. A lot of her friends were there. She ignored my wife and me. At 12:30 p.m., my wife told Emma we had to leave the party to go to Young Authors. Emma didn’t want to leave. My wife told Emma she had to. So Emma said goodbye to her friends. She didn’t sound happy.

At 12:40, I dropped Emma and my wife off at a big building at Missouri Southern and went to find a place to park. I found a place to park next to a sign that said “Welcome to Kansas” and started walking back to the big building. That’s when I discovered that I had left our other umbrella at the birthday party. Did I mention it was raining?

Emma had a great time at Young Authors, and so did her mother and I. It’s a neat deal. During the school year, participating schools have their kids write stories in class, and they send them to the folks in charge of Young Authors. The folks in charge of Young Authors read all the stories and then invite kids from each school to attend the event at MSSU. On Saturday, the kids got to meet and talk with two real authors. The authors talked to the kids and their parents about writing. They told stories and talked about their books. We bought Emma several books, and she had them signed by the authors.

When we drove home, it was still raining. My wife and I listened to “A Prairie Home Companion” on the car radio, and Emma read one of her new books.

As we pulled onto our street in Carthage, my wife told Emma that we were very proud of her for being selected to participate in Young Authors. Emma said, “Thank you.”

She sounded happy.