Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Summer...It's Here. Get Used To It!

Guys, we are only in week one of summer break. And I am already learning a few important things.  First. Going to Dunkin' Donuts does in fact count as a family outing if you have a coupon. If you have a coupon, then it's financially responsible because you are saving money on something that brings the family closer.  Without the coupon, it is just contributing to childhood obesity! Also. Almond Joy flavored iced coffee is SO not worth the money you saved with the coupon.  It really sucks. We don't plan on taking a trip to Dunkin' Donuts every day of summer, but we needed a little pick me up today to get things back on track.
Our oldest child is away at camp on this, the first week of our summer break and we are really missing her!  Specifically, my youngest daughter and I do not know exactly what to do at home without her. My husband simply asks me each day, "Any word from Nana?", as if she has figured out how to send smoke signals from the campsite. I woke up this morning all rosy cheeked, bright eyed, and bushy tailed, ready to face the day.  Lulu was feeling less than eager to do anything that didn't involve watching "Ant Farm" on Netflix.  For the last two weeks, my kid who hasn't cared about TV for over a year, has been obsessively asking to watch "Ant Farm".  It's one of those really great kids' shows that make parents out to be bumbling idiots who exist only for the sake of prompting canned laughter at 15 second intervals! After two shows, I excitedly clapped my hands and said, "What would you like to do together today?!", with all the eagerness of Julie Andrews (pick a role).  "We could go to the pool...the library...the park..."
She lazily plopped down on the couch and mumbled, "Let's just stay here until (our neighbor/bff) comes home."
"She's not coming over until tonight."
"That's ok. I'm good here."
My Julie Andrews inspired plans were squashed.  I can't really say anything.  She is my child.  I have a tendency to laze about if I'm not given other instructions. But suddenly, I have a vision of us, laying about all summer long, unwashed, lethargic, and slothful! I can start to feel the walls closing in on me and just knowing that I no longer have the school day to grocery shop (pretty much daily because of poor meal planning skills), buy hair supplies, and all those other riveting things I do that I can't recall at present, makes me feel twitchy.
"We are not doing THIS (gesture wildly) all summer...we have PLANS! Let's get going."
It was a battle of the wills and I think I just needed to prove to myself that life as I knew it would continue normally this summer.  There was much delay and resistance. We put our bathing suits on and took them off twice.  We played a game in which I had to taste jelly beans and guess what disgusting flavor they might be. I did the dishes. And finally, Lulu agreed to take a ride with me to sign up for summer classes.  We argued briefly about what music to listen to in the car.  There's only so much Adam Levine I can take without becoming irrationally angry. We had to compromise and listen to Pentatonix because apparently I can only stomach pop music when it's sung acapella. Once we arrived at our destination, Lulu bravely agreed to try a gymnastics class because in the words of my own mother (you can't do nothing all summer).  Success!
We even made it to the library, to get our new library card.  When the librarian excitedly told Lulu that tomorrow there would be dancing M&M's performing at the library, she smiled politely and then gave me a squinty eyed look implying that dancing M&M's held about as much interest as getting a head start on multiplication tables or having one's cavity filled. My willful girl refused to check out any books, insisting that she had plenty to read at home, thankyouverymuch.
Together, we found a shelf containing old, worn paperbacks that were either 25 cents or free to borrow if you return them on the honor system. There was an elderly woman with a crazed look in her eyes (seriously) tossing books in her library bag, who said excitedly, "You can take as many as you want, as long as you bring them back! I've read most of them.  I like to take 30 at a time!!"
She nodded and pointed aggressively at the sign. I tried to play it cool while she was standing there watching me, but I gave in to the excitement and started hugging books to my chest.  What can I say? Little excites me more than old paperback, romance novels called things like Honeysuckle Devine, Hearts Aflame, or a personal favorite, Led Astray, which my cosmetology instructor once misread as Lead Ashtray.
Lulu got into the frenzy too and began picking out books for me.
"Mama, do you like this one?" she asked as she picked up a Sandra Brown throwback from the 90's.
"No, Mommy doesn't really like the murder mystery books. That's what Mimi likes.  Mommy likes books where everybody gets married and lives happily ever after in the end...and pirates. Pirates are good."
Just kidding. I didn't say that last part. Cowboys are better. Obviously.
In the end, it was quite a little adventure, after all.  Mommy got free books galore to borrow. Lulu even eventually caved and checked out a graphic novel about a mouse who is married to a rock star. And you know what? We thoroughly enjoyed reading the Bible together for our reading time.  The Message version on my You Version app is easy enough for kids to understand and if I leave out some of the more intense Old Testament smoting of people, it is an incredibly fun read.  If I sound surprised, it's because this is the first time I've spent much time reading it regularly!
We finished up our outing with a trip to Dunkin' Donuts and now we are home, anxiously awaiting our neighbor friend and my client. Is it going to be the most exciting summer ever? Almost certainly not.  I'm sure there will be many more temper tantrums over not wanting to run errands, plenty of trips to the pool or library, and plenty of sibling rivalry. I'm sure we won't do nearly as many educational or creative activities as we should.  We will not grow our own vegetables and no one will learn how to crochet baby hats to cover the heads of premature babies in need. But, if the beginning of summer has taught me anything, it's that this time is precious.  When my oldest daughter headed off to her first activity as a Girl Scout (overnight!) camper, without even a glance back at her needy, old mom and dad, I could practically see her at 18, headed off to college with a grin on her pretty face.
Lulu has decided that she will be eternally devoted to us, never leaving to get a job or go to college, never to marry; ultimately, she's hoping to own many cats. But, I think she will one day leave, even if she sleeps between her father and I until she is 18.
Lately, I think I can actually see them growing.  They are getting so long and lean.  Their faces are thinning out and their tummies are less round.  They are starting to understand more sophisticated humor and are becoming more sure of themselves and their ability to make their way in the world.  So, I will kiss their heads as much as they will allow it and try to speak more gently and take deep breaths when I need them.  I will try to use my "texting voice" a lot less. As in, "Mommy, you are using your texting voice."
"Hmmm? Oh, sorry!"
And, really...just try to live in a place of gratitude for these silly, little moments as often as I can.

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