Ladies and Gentlemen, The Weekend (kind of sucks to be honest)

Back when I was in high school, I lived for the weekend. To get away from the drudgeries of school for even two days of playing video games and goofing off was sublime. And with the benefit of hindsight, I can safely say that most of what I learned in those five days of the week was completely and utterly a waste of fucking time. I know it is some trendy neoliberal thing to complain that schools aren’t doing enough to teach you “real jobs,” as though the only thing that has any value in the world is computer coding, skilled trades, and business related math. I don’t share this glib view of the world, but I certainly think a lot of the activities that they gave us in high school or really busy work that didn’t either fuel anything “work” related, nor were they particularly enjoyable or satisfying. I’m talking about drawing Bohr-Rutherford diagrams, and that week and half at the beginning of every school year or I had to take old paper shopping bags and wrap the covers to my math and science textbooks, lest that beautiful plastic sheen somehow become degraded.

The weekend was always restorative, and gave me a chance to focus on the things that were important to me. Which to me meant an endless array of hobbies. Even evenings too, albeit with the constraints of homework. And into my twenties, although homework assignments very seldom fit neatly within the weekday paradigm, I definitely got time off to myself on Saturdays and parts of Sundays without having to cannibalise too much of my free time. I could take a whole Saturday afternoon to play squash, then leisurely lounge around waiting for dinner time.

But now I am in my thirties. I am old, I am fat, and I’m married with kids. This means that a given weekend is dragging around your old, fat carcass, even though your bones and ligaments are telling you that rest is best, to go and do some kind of activity with your wife and toddlers. It usually involves a lot of needless running, followed by screaming and yelling. And also toddlers (ba-dump-tss!). Now, it is culturally taboo to say that you don’t enjoy spending time with your kids. But just the same, there is nothing restorative or relaxing about chasing after kids at a playground all morning, followed by a chaotic lunch, an angry nap, a chaotic dinner, followed by a chaotic bath time and chaotic bedtime.

Normally I get around to doing these blog posts on Monday morning, as soon as the nanny has arrived, and provided me with respite for the week. Of course, I sit to write this particular post on a Tuesday, having just emerged from the August long day weekend. A long weekend is usually something to be jubilant about. But that assumes you look forward to weekends. Now, I look forward to Monday mornings, when I can take a break and relax, by… going to work? No, it doesn’t make sense to me either, dear reader. But that’s what it is now. I can sneak in a few games of chess on my phone, and go to the bathroom in peace; I have to take these small victories.

My job is OK, but certainly not something that I would refer to as my dream or my absolute ideal. But the point is that in my particular situation, it’s just slightly less unbearable than the time that I spend on weekends. Now when you put it that way, it does sound a bit depressing, but I’ve yet to figure out how to put a positive spin on that situation. And of course, before I can even finish publishing this blog post, I’m being told that the nanny has to take two weeks off to attend to a personal matter. I shudder to think how I’m going to be roped into this nightmare going forward. I have some ideas, and I don’t like them.

Anyway, we live in a pressure cooker of world history where people are expected to work every single day, check emails after work is done, and the pandemic has exacerbated that with a real lack of child care and any ability to actually take any time off. And so the notion of “free time,” which was so ingrained to me growing up as an only child, is now just a fleeting fiction. At least when I’m working, and things aren’t too busy, I can dictate A blog post, or keep up on my chess training.

So in that particular set of circumstances, long weekends are “long” in the absolute worst possible sense of the word.

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