June 1, 2012

Is It Fall Yet?

About 2 months before school is over for the year I start looking forward to summer vacation. No more getting up at dark-thirty to spend an hour trying to get the minions out of bed and somewhat presentable for school, no more digging through the couch cushions trying to find coins for lunches because I'll never see the change if I give them dollar bills, no more battling the crazy drivers in the drop-off/pick up lines at school, no more riding herd on homework that doesn't make any sense to me. I start dreaming of when we are all free to relax, sleep in, and spend the days running through fields of wildflowers while cross-stitching verses together. Oh wait, maybe that was a movie on Lifetime.

Now it's here--the first day of summer vacation! And, well...it's not exactly the idyllic paradise I had in my head. In fact, if I'm honest with myself (which I so hate to be), I can recall this exact scenario LAST summer. There is a definite discrepancy between what I dream of and reality. Am I alone in this?

The Dream of Sleeping In:  If I don't have to wake up the kids and get them to school by 7:30 than I can sleep in. If we have no other plans then we are all free to lounge around in bed until we are well rested and ready to face a new day. Only after I have had a leisurely stretch and been allowed to slowly climb out of bed on my own timetable do I have to leave the comfort of my room and face another day.
The Reality:  Bubba and Sassy are physically incapable of sleeping in. After waking up altogether too early to the sounds of Spongebob on a TV that was turned up so the hard-of-hearing neighbor down the street could hear it, I get the kids settled on a much more reasonable volume and then crawl back in bed, only to be woken up an hour later to doors slamming, feet thundering, and kids screaming. My kids have a problem with too much energy zinging through bodies too small to hold it all in. For the most part, they've managed to keep it under control for the last 9 months, but now they are done. That energy has built and built and now it can no longer be contained. It's bursting through their limbs, out of control, until I have 3 Tazmanian devils pinballing off of each other with no regard whatsoever to who might be injured in the wake of their personal tornadoes. It all ends with kids crying, limbs bleeding and Mommy reaching for the Ben & Jerry's and locking herself in the bathroom.

The Dream of Shared Activities:  I have all kinds of fun activities planned for the summer--painting, crafting, hiking, library visits, camping. We can have reading time when we all sit together and I read out loud to them from Harry Potter. We can discuss the hidden meanings in our recent viewing of "Hugo". We can commune with nature and God's creation while hiking. We can bond while creating personal art projects to display in our rooms. We will spend the summer getting closer to each other and sharing secrets (theirs, not mine) and I will rejoice in knowing that my children like me, they really like me.
The Reality:  Camping? While most of us are on board, Bubba has informed me that he doesn't want to go because he's more of an "indoorsman". No one wants to take up our previously enjoyed hobby of hiking because it's TOO. FREAKIN'. HOT. And there are bugs. They are against bugs. While Sassy is up for any kind of crafting, the boys think it's booorrriiiinnnggg. And girly. We do all like to read but no one can agree on any one book. Howdy has read all the Harry Potter books and is trying to convince me to let him read my Janet Evanovich books that make me laugh til I wet myself. Bubba would rather read The Far Side comic books or cheesy riddle books so he can regale us with his own made up versions of the same jokes and Sassy wants to read about caring for the Wild Platypus Hawk or whatever animal has caught her eye this week. The only thing they can agree on is they DON'T want to go outside and marathons of The Fairly Oddparents are awesome. Meanwhile, I am searching the house for something to stab my eardrum with so I don't have to listen to the nerve-grating voices on Cartoon Network.

The Dream of a Clean House:  With soccer season over and no more running around after the kids, I will have more time to devote to housework. I won't have to rush to get caught up on a Wednesday afternoon between Chess club and bible class. The kids won't have 2-3 changes of clothes each day between school uniforms, soccer uniforms and play clothes, so less laundry. And with the kids around more, I can assign them each a few more chores to share the burden.
The Reality:  No school uniforms are great but now we have camp. Actually, the kids have a total of 3 different camps this summer in addition to the you-are-going-and-that's-final camping trip with the family. That means that I will have regular laundry loads during the week and then on the weekend when they return from camp, I will have to rush through washing all their clothes, towels and sleeping bags so they will be ready for the next camp. And going camping means I will at least double my usual laundry loads since the kids will inevitably fall into the mud, sit on a ketchup-smothered hamburger, or wipe their s'more-sticky fingers on their shirts resulting in--you got it--2-3 clothing changes each day. The kids hear the word "vacation" and seem to think it means a vacation from all responsibility. So what used to be an annoying job of reminding the kids 5 times each morning and evening to do their chores now becomes an hour long debate about how a break from school is not a break from life and why they need to continue to do their chores if they want to continue to live--and in my house.

During the school year, when we are pulled in 3 or 4 different directions and the kids' days are filled up with homework, clubs, sports and friends, I dream of the day when summer vacation comes and I finally get them all to myself. I miss having that time with them and laughing together. And then I get my wish. I have them...all to myself...24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And I start counting down the days until school starts again.

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