After a quick, unexpected trip North, and some end of the year craziness, today was our first true day of summer break*. And it was every bit as magical as I expected.
*this post was written earlier but sat for a while until I could get back to it.
I was eating dinner with a bunch of moms last night and someone asked the group which we prefer: the schedule and routine of the school year, or the relaxed laziness of summer. Only two of us were solidly in the latter group. Everyone else said they preferred the routine. I was stunned that I was in the the minority, but after having another 12 hours to contemplate it, I still agree: the school year is something I endure in order to thrive in the summer.
Today the girls slept in till about 8. I didn’t get as lucky because I have been waking up to run before N leaves for work, but the payoff being I have the rest of the day to devote to them with zero interruptions while I am doing it.
Sib woke up a quite a bit earlier but lazily rolled around in her bed until I was able to get to her. I made oatmeal, one of my favorite breakfast meals because of the variety of ways it can be dressed up. Today we had it with almond butter and honey, and a handful of chocolate chips to entice the girls. And because in my mind, chocolate is always acceptable for breakfast. I accidentally grabbed only two bowls at first and then quickly added a third before MG caught my mistake of not factoring her in.
“What are we going to do next?” they asked as soon as they had put the last bite to lips, their bowls already forming a hard crust of leftover oats around the edges. I instantly felt the doubt spring up in me for an anxious second. For one thing, I did not have a solid plan for the day yet as I wanted to take a more laissez-faire approach on day one to get my bearings. Secondly, I did not want to be their source of entertainment. I am determined to let them spend many hours of “boredom” this summer and try not to intervene.
It’s playtime right now while I do my morning chores, I responded and they marched off merrily, MG happy to have time to play with her toys and Bea happy for a play mate. Easy as that.
I made quick work of my chores, every once in a while hearing some verbal skirmishes upstairs. They just need some time to acclimate, I told myself, don’t intervene.
Thanks to her early morning wakeup, Sibby went down for a morning nap, with promise of an afternoon one as well. I set the girls up on the deck, each with a glass pan full of dried rice, and enough miniature cats, water bowls, litter boxes, and balls of yarn between them to hopefully inspire some Montessori free play. It kept them busy for a good hour and a half. I could not believe my luck.
Lunch was crock pot roast beef, shredded and served cold, with a small dab of mayonnaise and a proportionately larger smear of mustard, presented on gluten free white bread. On the side, pretzels in the shape of pillows with a small pat of peanut butter inside, and a plug of peach applesauce. The girls ate fast, talking through the meal, over their excitement of our plans to go to the pool next.
MG has loved the pool since she was a baby, but the past three summers, we’ve had to bribe her to get her face wet and swimming lessons have been met with many tears of fear and frustration. This year she turned the corner, even before we could get to the lessons (another parenting lesson to just wait until they are ready?). She has been jumping in, going under, and even trying to swim on her own, much to her own pride (which we have happily been stroking). Today she told me the first thing she wanted to do at the pool was a head stand.
Going to the pool at the noon-2pm hour usually doesn’t yield a lot of friends for the girls to play with. Most moms of young kids are home during these hours, napping under the cool AC. But we were in luck today as a little girl about MG’s age was there and eager to practice headstands too.
While I watched them play, LB floating lazily between us, and me keeping Sibby from plunging head first into the water, my mind instantly began writing a hundred blog posts while I tried to ESP them to my phone, less than a dozen feet away, that may as well have been a hundred. I also couldn’t stop stewing about the disparaging comment a mom made to me on our way in that had to do with raising girls (right in front of my own little tribe, no less). I don’t get those comments often, but when I do, they stick with me for a little while, like a bloated mosquito bite.
I looked over to the “big pool” and watched two boys, feet dancing on the concrete, hands reaching out to smack each other’s chest, in an effort to butt each other into the deep end. They reminded me of young rams, both showing off and claiming territory, horns clashing loudly and every once in a while, locking. I feared for their safety as they were close to a corner, close to a ladder, and close to other little kids. I tried deftly with sweeping glances to see if another adult, perhaps closer, hopefully a mom, was also watching this display. That’s when the mosquito of insecurity bit me again. Like maybe I wasn’t meant to have boys because I am too careful. Or maybe I have girls and that’s why I am so careful. I don’t know, but it’s something that nags at me the rest of the time we are there.
In another part of the shallow end, a clearly high-school aged couple was engaged in making a Boomerang video. He was crouching on the concrete, she was practicing her jumps in the water, each time making a different face or motion with her hands. I was struck with the silliness that goes into making those. But the end result never looks that silly. When we’re watching them, we don’t really think about what it took to make. And I pondered some more about all I had to be careful for.
Thirty minutes after we arrived, adult swim was called. I had to explain it to the girls and I knew exactly what they were thinking. Those ten minutes to a kid are the longest ten minutes of the summer. I was there for a quick bribe though, organic cheddar ducks and applesauce pouches. As I handed out these particular treats, I thought, I could not be a more suburban mom if I tried. But it’s everything I wanted and exactly what I pictured it would be as I was growing up.
I’ve arrived. Not in any worldly sense, no the opposite, actually. I’ve arrived at the intersection of my childhood dreams and factual reality. And I couldn’t be happier about it.
Long live summer,