Photo: There is a state park a few towns over with the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted and goats you can feed with pellets that cost a quarter. It’s a dollar to park and an afternoon full of fun. A great deviation from the usual haunts. We’ll certainly visit again soon.
On Wednesday afternoon, as I stood in front of my grill, the boys chased two dragonflies around the yard. The poor insects darted this way and that as my boys did their level best to capture them, screaming, squawking and laughing with every failed attempt. Strategy was employed eventually, with Major giving Minor the orders: you do this, I’ll do that, you go over there while I run this way, etc etc. No dragonflies were captured… for now. Knowledge was obtained instead, with much talk about how dragonflies look and move like helicopters. Intelligent conversation cropped from these observations: gravity, force and balance were terms used by two little boys who were debriefing at the picnic table. I was powerfully reminded that the unstructured moments and spontaneous play are how the boys best learn right now. I couldn’t have scripted a better experience for them.
I couldn’t help but notice that my two little boys are so much like their father. I couldn’t help but wonder how in the world I’m going to keep them entertained this summer. My Quiet Thoughts all week have been about how to make Camp Mama look and feel a little different this year. I’ve decided that Camp Mama will only be miserable if I make it miserable. I’ve gotta decide what kind of summer I want to have.
My unhappiness isn’t all about the time I’m going to spend wrangling children instead of doing the things I’d rather be doing. It’s about the idea that I’m going to be fully responsible for their entertainment and learning from the time they get up until the time they go to bed every single day for the next three months. That’s a lot of time. The teacher in me wants to structure it. The writer/blogger/not-mother in me wants to outsource it. The tired mother in me just wants to endure it. The Millennial in me wants to conquer it, taking it on boldly with a lot of plans and promises. But Millennial Optimism inevitably runs into two major problems: time and money. But maybe my usual love for new projects and fresh starts is exactly what I need here.
We had a dry run of it yesterday. I got up, had a cup of coffee, did some quilting and got a load of laundry in. My house chores were done before the boys got out of bed. Side dishes for the evening’s dinner prepped before the boys were done with their breakfast and the evening’s meat was put in the fridge to marinade not long after. I got the boys pottied and dressed and out the door by 10am. The swim suits still fit (thanks be to God) and that includes mine, which made getting everybody presentable and outdoor-ready that much easier. Helmets, bikes, beach toys, water and sunscreen were thrown in The Blackmobile and we were off to the pond. Without the pressure to get right back and do the mommy things that I normally hold for the afternoon, the boys were free to splash and build. They made a friend, they got sand all over themselves and I got through a full three chapters of the book I’m reading. Three full chapters. The lesson: manage mommy first and the rest will follow.
It won’t always be that easy, of course. But it’s nice to know what’s possible.
It’s going to be about sustainability. How do I keep them interested and avoid monotony without running myself ragged or ending up resentful by the end of the summer? I’m thinking about field trips and visits, stuff with their father and stuff without him. I’m thinking about how to effectively use this time to further their development. Should we institute a regular chore for both boys to do? Can I get Major reading by the beginning of school? Can I get both boys to take more interest in doing art? Can I get the boys more interested in cooking with me in the kitchen?
Questions that will only be answered with time, trial and error. Aren’t you so lucky to have a front seat to it? Or maybe you aren’t so lucky, as you’ll probably be subject to a whole lot of whining all summer long. JUST KIDDING! Don’t remove my blog from your browser!
It’s a hot Friday in the farmhouse, Dear Reader. Another 90 degree day with humidity showing up tomorrow. The husband has installed the AC units and they are humming away. The grill is clean and ready for all the cooking to be done this weekend. It’s going to be a good one.
I have wishes for you, Dear Reader, on this unofficial first summer Friday. First, I wish you safe journeys if you are heading off to some fun place for the long weekend. I hope that lines are short and lanes are clear, that your gas tank is full and your playlist awesome. I wish you good road food, hilarious stories and inside jokes as you make your way toward your destination. For those of ya’ll staying home, I wish you quiet reading in cool spaces, good local fruits and veggies from a nearby farmstand or farmer’s market, and sweet tea. Gotta have just one glass of sweet tea. Or lemonade. Fine. I wish you one good outfit this weekend, maybe a favorite from last summer that you still look great in. Remember to look at your whole self once or twice this weekend and give yourself a smile. Tell yourself you look great (you do) and tell yourself that you’re wonderful (you are). Say those words to a few other people this weekend, too. I’ll remind you that this long weekend comes at great sacrifice, that our freedom to roam and gather came at steep cost, and that some of the greatest among us work in far away places under circumstances we wouldn’t want to find ourselves in. Give a word of thanks, say a little prayer, or otherwise honor someone this weekend.
Until Monday, stay cool, be kind and take care.