Photo: Little boys go to play outside rain or shine! Note how one insisted on not wearing his rubber rain boots. This resulted in very dirty, very muddy shoes, very wet feet and a very grumpy child. “I didn’t make that poor choice!” I said! Anyway. Little boys learned that the stomp-rocket launcher, usually used as a dirt-cannon to get themselves and everything dirty, can blow bubbles in puddle water or even mud under the right circumstances. So they have filled this dump truck with water and mud, have put the launcher end into their rainy day slurry and are about to stomp to see what happens. They will be disappointed, though, as the bubble isn’t terribly satisfying and the launcher will suck in the slurry as a result. So now the launcher is clogged up, sucking in no air, nor expelling it. Little boys haven’t quite figured out how to fix it. I’mma let them figure it out without too much intervention.
My goodness! I’m so sorry about Monday! As I wrote, my in-laws are in town. That meant a lot of cleaning and junk before their arrival and then a lot of dealing with stuff during and after they got here. Every time I thought I was going to be able to sit at this computer and get a post out, the boys made a mess or dinner needed something or, you know, the whole world broke into a million shiny, glittering pieces.
Hyperbolic, yes. But still true.
Anyway, the in-laws brought one of The Husband’s aunts with them and they are staying at a hotel. This eases a lot of the tension, which is a good thing. They billed this trip as a “historical sight-seeing tour” that required minimal amounts of my time. “Oh, we just want to, if you’re ok with it, maybe come over the first night for dinner. Would that… would that be ok?”
Sure, I said. Who can say no to one night, right? I like cooking for folk, so come on by.
Two weeks after the initial proposal, here comes another email. “We were wondering if, maybe, we could treat you to dinner at a restaurant. Our treat, of course! On, um… the third night that we are staying?”
Uh huh… yeah, no. Restaurants with little babies is a chore. Counter-offer: takeout at our place. So, mind you, that means I gotta keep this house clean. They accept.
Last weekend, they are talking to The Husband and this happens: “Oh, we see on Tripadvisor that there is a pool at the hotel. We were wondering if, maybe, you know, you might bring the boys over and we could go swimming?”
Classic encroachment model.
We told them no.
Hosting the two meals feels like enough and, otherwise, they need to learn entertain themselves. The Husband is working this week, I have playdates and junk to keep up with and, yeah, don’t come up here saying you’re gonna do one thing but wholly intend to do something else. We ain’t stupid. And don’t feel bad for those two, either, Dear Reader. They retired at the beginning of the summer and now feel free to roam about the country (read: the Northeastern United States). Hey man, see your grandkids. But do it in a sustainable way, you dig? We’ve gotta find a rhythm established, not to mention some boundaries!
So we had a pretty peaceful (and very muddy) rainy day yesterday. Little boys are at the age when they want and need to be outside, every day, rain or shine. So when the downpours ended and it was just drizzling, I released them into the world with the understanding that everything that I hold dear in the house would become muddy when they returned. They went out with their umbrellas, played in their sandbox (the lid was left off of it so it was full of muddy, gross water), went around looking for puddles, and even found some worms! I made them throw the worms in the compost pile. This provided no less than twenty minutes of entertainment. They are having such a great summer.
Matter of fact, that’s what I was going to write about on Monday. You see, this happened while we were sitting in the yard waiting for the grandparents to show up:
Major and Minor had been running around, playing in the dusty dirt, and they decided to take a break. They came to where I was sitting and sat down in the grass for a moment. Major observed a bee buzzing onto one of the clover flowers growing in our yard. He said this:
Major: I see a bee, Mom, and a bug. Buh, buh, buh, bug. Hey, Mom! Bug begins with the letter B!
my heart… it just grew ten times.
Me: Yes, it does!
Major: and so does buh-buh-bee!
Minor: and buh-buh-beach!
Me: And buh-buh-ball!
Minor: and buh-buh-car!
Major falls out laughing. So does Minor. They think that’s hilarious and they know why.
And I… I sigh with such contentment. I’ve been worried about their engagement with early literacy. They still aren’t interested in writing, but they are starting to become interested in reading, even if they don’t know it yet.
Remember in the beginning of the summer when I was so worried about the boys being bored and not learning anything? I came up with those binders and scrambled for books, calling it Project 3 o’clock?
Yeah, I haven’t needed it. Not once since we’ve gotten back from Maryland. Between the spontaneous conversations like that one, a few deliberate things done at the grocery store (“I need 5 onions and I already have 2. How many more do I need? Can you count with me?”) and a daily dose of DVR’d Sesame Street, my boys have been engaged, curious and very rarely bored.
We’ve had our moments, as every family does every summer. And Lord knows, it would have been even better if the boys could have done some camp or something. But, where last summer I was so worried that they weren’t learning anything and were falling behind their classmates, this year, I’m all set. These are two little boys who are ready to step foot in the classroom, but they are also two little boys who didn’t miss a thing. Best part? I really don’t feel like I did anything to make that happen! They are teaching themselves, they are teaching each other, and they are open to what the world has to offer them!
It was something that master-teachers used to tell me all the time when I was learning: “Let them teach each other.” It was hard to learn as a young teacher. I thought that my students needed me every second of every class. It wasn’t until my third and even fourth year when all of that started to make sense for me, but now with these two boys, it really makes sense. Of course, they do need me for stuff, and they will need me for stuff… but runnin’ around and playing in the dirt? Even learning how to sound out their letters and how those sounds make their world bigger, better and clearer? Hey, explore together. Learn together. Grow together. Suddenly, the fifteen months between them doesn’t feel like such a bad thing after all.
In other words, I’m Mommy Winning right now. It’s a good thing.
Anyway, is Friday gonna be an in-law post or a Quiet Thoughts post? I don’t know yet. I guess it depends on how things go tonight. My house is clean, my chores are done, my kids will be in a good mood and I won’t be cooking. You’d think that would mean that things will go swimmingly but, long time readers know, such logic doesn’t always hold when those folk cross my threshold. Everybody was on their best behavior on Monday so, hopefully, that will continue into today.
I’ve already had a hard cider just to take off the edge. 🙂 Let the games begin!
See you Friday for… some sort of post. Either way, it’ll be good!