The days are getting shorter. How sad. Thank goodness.
The children will be out of the house soon. How sad. Thank goodness.
We will have to adhere to an imposed schedule. How sad. Thank goodness.
In the spirit of being two things at the same time (see the title of this blog!), here is my list of things I love and super don’t love (insert euphemism for “hate” here) about summer.
Thumbs up — Reasons to smile about summer
1. Being unscheduled. Not having to be up and have my son out of the house by 7:40 (for drop-off) or 7:15 for bus to school. This includes: a) Lazier bedtime. Not feeling rushed at dinner to get into bed by 8:00 or risk exhaustion after the school day and b) Having time for my kids to just be, to hang out and play together, try on crazy outfits, do a craft, and figure stuff out on their own.
2. Nature exploration and picnics. We had the most amazingly lovely time a few days ago at Green Springs Garden Park lunching on the grounds. Earlier the kids had waded in the creek and played in the shade of a pumpkin-vine arbor. Gorgeous.
3. Sports. It’s fun to see my son, age 6, getting interested in following teams and being so happy to watch long, uneventful games rather than clamoring for a hit of PBS. I like seeing him think of himself as an athlete.
4. Swimming. The kids are so happy to be in water. My two-year-old would just stand up to her neck in water in calm North Beach, Maryland and happily play in big waves in Lake Michigan. My six-year-old is not yet a swimmer but close.
5. The abundance of local produce. I could go to a farmers market almost every day and feel good about the food and whose labor I’m supporting.
6. U-pick. This is the second year we visited Dexter Blueberry Farm, a mile from the house I lived it until I was 10. Last year my son and baby and I picked alongside a college friend, ceramics artist Julie Corey and her kids. It was great fun. This year it was just me and my two kids, and the picking felt wonderfully meditative. My two-year-old adored it.
7. Travel. We got to see lots of family and visit fun new places without missing school or worrying about getting off schedule. My son tried kayaking and got into reading maps. My daughter explored the sensory delight that is sand.
8. Fireflies. They are cool.
9. Warm weather. When it’s winter, this is what you wish for, or at least think you do.
10. Long days. By bedtime, you can feel like you had about five or six unique experiences and gotten to know yourself and your kids in multiple ways.
Thumbs Down: Things I will NOT miss about summer!
1. Being unscheduled. We are off our rocker without the imposition of schedule and a mom whose internal sense of rhythm is a work in progress, to put it politely. After being up for an hour or two, it’s still “too early” to go to a park at 8 a.m. while it’s nice out because “there will be no friends there,” says the redheaded 44″ tall extrovert. By the time museums open, kids are already hungry for second breakfast and little one has only 90 minutes or so left in the tank if I want to hope for any decent kind of nap. And if I don’t spend the night before packing lunch, forget it the whole thing!
This also includes a) Lazier bedtime. Not having school as a motivation to get to bed in a timely manner. This means 1) little time for parents to talk at each other or even look at anything besides dirty dishes after kids are asleep or 2) no talking at all because one of us has fallen asleep at 8:34 p.m. (If that’s me, I usually wake up at 2 a.m. and can’t get back to sleep for two or three hours). And b) having time for my kids to just be, to make a mess in the house, to undo whatever cleaning or straightening I just did, to whine and cry at each other’s failure to share, to make me so stressed out I can’t eat anything or finish an email
2. Nature exploration and picnics. Can you say mosquitoes? And a lot of dirt stuck in finger- and toenails that refuse to be cut? And needing double the water bottles because of the heat and need for handwashing? And temperatures so high your ice packs don’t stand a chance? And a side of code orange air to go with your BPA-free and stainless steel containers packed into your lead-free lunch box.
3. Sports. I liked it better when I didn’t have to cart a bat and balls to the park and wonder when the toddler was going to get hit with one or the other. Plus, now that the boy can read, he reaches for the Sports section of the paper and informs us when we have to watch TV to see whatever baseball game or golf he has deemed essential viewing. The games themselves are fairly chill, but those darned commercials are so icky (one of the reasons I was reluctant to get rid of cable with DVR, which allowed us to record and fast-forward). I wonder if the Olympic theme song will get stuck in our heads so ruthlessly in the winter of 2014.
4. Swimming. I can’t stand chlorine in any dose, and my son looks horrible after being in it. Both kids would love to spend more time at pools, but I literally cannot set foot in one. My husband is less than enthused by water sport, even though his skin is lovely and without the problems mine has. Bring on the cold weather so I stop feeling like such a mom failure who has to pay other people to swim with her kids! (And don’t tell my son that the high school down the street has a pool open year-round.)
5. The abundance of local produce. I feel bad whenever I miss a farmers market day and actually go to the grocery store. Sometimes it’s just too late and hot to get to the afternoon markets and the kids are too tired to jump in the car, and I haven’t done enough prep to then get home in time to make dinner. On weekends, if I bring them along, the older one complains about having to be on a break from dairy and that Pleasant Pops don’t come to our market anymore.
As for consuming, I’d like to be freezing and fermenting a whole lot more than I’ve been able to this summer during our move, especially after Coach Christy Marie’s wonderful presentation at Holistic Moms last week. Here’s hoping that next year we’ll do the garden up right and I’ll find a way to be more of an inspiring homesteader-wannabe and enroll my kids in helping.
6. U-pick. This is different than just buying local. Where we live, this requires driving at least 30 minutes, if not much more, which seems counterintuitive to the whole carbon footprint thing. And when we did go in Michigan, my son was D-O-N-E after I think 24 minutes. Not a good ratio of time and gas to activity.
7. Travel. Eleven hours in a car in one day. No DVDs. Barely a nap. ‘Nuff said. But also factor in beaucoup time in the kitchen prepping ahead and still needing to eat out (and offend a sensitive stomach) and, to quell the screaming between service plazas, to pump kids so full of dried fruit that all they do is sing. And poop. And, as mentioned above, not sleep.
8. Fireflies. They make my son whine about not being allowed to stay up late, and I can’t really argue with him that he’s missing something naturally cool.
9. Warm weather so hot you don’t even want to set foot outside. Scrap any plans to turn on the oven before sundown! If you forget to put up the sun shade, any driving outing starts out as a sauna. These are the days when you wish it was 40 degrees so you could just sit and read in the car while the little one took an uninterrupted nap.
10. Long days. When children start telling you they are hungry at 6 a.m. and tell you they are still hungry at 8 p.m., and you’ve prepared breakfast and then a second breakfast at home, snacks for the ride to the morning outing so they won’t bug you when you get there, a packed lunch for after the morning outing (especially if it’s far from home and you actually want the little one to fall asleep, which she’ll only do on a full belly), snacks for on the way home from an afternoon outing, dinner, and snack before bed, well, you start to wish the sun would just take a quick nosedive toward December.
What will you miss about summer? What are you ready to kick to the curb?