I suppose I should be thankful. There were seven whole days of summer break when it seemed like my kids were getting along, hanging out with their summer friends, swimming, chasing each other around the back yards with Nerf guns, generally being loud and obnoxious and boy like. Perfect.
Someone didn’t sleep enough, it was too hot, the Nerf bullets went missing, his bullets were better, he had more, someone accused someone else of shooting a third someone in the face. Whatever. It ended with one brother shoving the other to the ground, me screaming at one to get his ass back inside the house, a lot of stomping, some more yelling, and the door loudly slamming on a pretty good run.
You call it summer break. I call them the times that try Moms’ souls.
Eight weeks of unscheduled time in which my kids can perfect the art of annoying each other and me. Eight weeks of seeing how far they can push each other and me before one of us snaps. Apparently, the great outdoors is not great enough for the both of them.
It’s summer for goodness sake! No homework, no soggy sandwiches, later bedtimes. We’re in the US for goodness sake! Processed snack food and bags of potato chips the size of Rhode Island. There’s a WalMart down the road, a Target in the next town for anything we’ve forgotten. I bought them new Nerf guns and an extra bandolier of foam bullets for crying out loud.
You’ve got a backyard, a hose, and good weather. There’s a pool next door. You’ve got the use of two legs, a freezer stocked with popsicles and a basement full of junk to explore. At the risk of sounding like Tim Gunn, make it work.
38 weeks a year I tell you what to do. Over and over and over again. 38 weeks of school days I am there, reminding you to eat, brush, lace and grab. I am there at the other end reminding you to remember homework, water bottles, bike keys and lunch boxes. There was a day or two about two weeks before school ended when I thought you had it there, but, nope. That’s ok, I can deal with that. But summer?
Listen, if I wanted to be a camp counselor, I’d be sitting on a lake in New Hampshire somewhere swatting mosquitoes, sneaking cigarettes and kissing some summer crush out by the canoes. If I wanted to run around the backyard acting like a spastic dinosaur or arranging backyard games I’d be getting paid.
I don’t want to be Julie McCoy, your cruise director standing by with a clipboard of activities. Shuffleboard on the Lido deck, bingo in the backyard, jazzercise by the jacuzzi. I have neither the time nor the inclination to be so organized when the sun is shining and there’s a sprinkler to run through.
You see what I’m saying?
I don’t want to run Camp Mom. I don’t want to organize skits and schedule days and march you from one activity to another. I just want to be. I want to sit with my book and a bag of snack food that I can’t get overseas because it’s too laden with preservatives and feel the sun on my skin.
Go outside. Lay down on the grass. Read a book, take a nap. Suck on an ice-cube until your brain freezes. Make ice pops, run through the sprinkler. Make a daisy chain, play Mommy had a baby and her head popped off with a field of dandelions. See how far you can spit watermelon seeds. Sanctioned spitting for goodness sake! Make up a skit without me. Make a treasure map. Go for a walk. Ride your bike. But for the love of all that is holy, stop crawling up each other’s behinds. Stop crawling up mine.
Because if I wanted to be a proctologist, I’d be driving a better car.
**At the exceedingly high risk of jinxing myself but in the spirit of full disclosure, I have to confess that after two days of scootchiness, my boys have gone back to happily shooting tin cans off a porch railing with Nerf projectiles for large swaths of the day. By far, the best $24 I’ve ever spent.