Wednesday, August 6, 2014

What I Learned in Summer "School"

(Sing to the tune of Camptown Races)
Eleven weeks down and one to go, doo-dah, doo-dah!
Eleven weeks down and one to go, oh-doo-dah-day!
I might sur-viiiiive, I might sur-viiiiiive!!!!
Eleven weeks down and one to go, oh-doo-dah-day!!!!

Insert sigh of relief here! The summer is almost over and I am still not an alcoholic! Or in an institution! No drug dependency! And the kids are alive! Thanks to all these declarative statements, I’m even almost ready to start believing in miracles, oh-doo-dah-day! Honestly, I think the last time I used this many exclamation points in one paragraph, I was an emotionally-charged teenage girl who was either love-struck or really, really pissed. Now the only event to trigger such excitement is the promise of school starting in a mere six days. (must…resist…the urge…to use more exclamation points…)

Summer is a time of togetherness…for better and worse. The kids have spent so much time together for so many weeks that tensions are just as high between them as they are between them and me. Just today, for example, when Liam had been awake for maybe five minutes, he slapped Declan for no apparent reason. And then Declan promptly slapped him right back. Typically, slap-fests don’t occur until late afternoon, not first thing in the morning. To compound tensions, we also just got back from a family vacation to Colorado. So, in addition to the many, many weeks of no-school togetherness we’ve been subjected to, we just survived a lot of time of non-stop togetherness, many hours of which were spent in the cramped confines of the family mini-van. I haven’t Googled it yet, but I bet, statistically, that more homicides happen annually within the family vehicle than in, say, a place like Detroit.

Summer is also a time of learning…sort of a summer school of living life. Spending all your hours with multiple kids – and, often, their friends, or in facilities with other kids you don’t know from Adam– will teach you many, many things in many, many realms. For example, this summer I learned that two-year-old Declan can maintain a mouth-fart sound for the entire duration of dinner (with no breaks for eating, of course). Now that’s stamina. But, on the positive note, I learned that it’s not just my kids who can be super-annoying. While talking to another mom in the gymnastics waiting area one day, I witnessed her kid, about five years old, punch himself in the crotch, non-stop, for the entire duration of our conversation. Sometimes the only saving grace in parenthood is knowing that you don’t suffer alone.

I learned that Band-a-Loom (aka Rainbow Loom, aka Loom Band, aka Rubber Band Bracelet Weaver Thingy, aka Bane of My Existence Comprised of Millions of Small Rubber Bands) is a horrendous invention. I’ve decided that it had to have been invented by a grandmother with extreme passive-aggressive tendencies and great animosity towards her children. No one else would be capable of causing such grief to so many parents of adolescent girls. Today alone, and this is not an exaggeration, I must have vacuumed more than 100 tiny rubber bands out of the van (in addition to a melted candy cane, a blue jay feather, and some unidentified fur, among other treasures). I hate small rubber bands. I have nothing else to add.

I learned that my tolerance-for-yuck (I don’t know how else to phrase this) is so high that, apparently, I have absolutely no standards of anything any more. Declan has been plagued by a giant plantar’s wart on his foot all summer (curse you, family-member-who-shall-remain-nameless, who plagued my children with disgusting plantar’s warts). In spite of the many treatments I’ve applied to it all summer, one day I walked into my bathroom and discovered him applying my absolute favoritest lip balm TO HIS WART (in his defense, he was trying to medicate it). I looked at the lip balm, and then at his disgusting wart, and then at the lip balm…and then I gave the lip balm a thorough wiping and threw it back in the drawer. I know, I know...I’m disgusting. However, I am pleased to say that, weeks later, there has been no transmission from his foot to my lips.

I also earned that we say a lot of absolutely ridiculous things in our house (brought to my attention one day by Grace). Taken out of context, we’d all be in a wrap-around coat. Some of the things said this summer include:
“If that dragon egg hatches in the van, we’re going to have a serious problem!” (again, me)
“NADIA! Why are there cherry pits in my underwear drawer?????” (Grace)
“Elephants like penis.” (Liam, often confusing the words ‘penis’ and ‘peanuts.’)

I also learned that you just don’t take kids shopping at the thrift shop, especially when your hobby is taking their stuff to the thrift shop unbeknownst to them. One day, Grace held up a certain toy and said to me, accusingly, “Mom! I’ve been looking for this! Why did you get rid of it?” And I said, nervously, “Um, that’s not yours. It just looks like yours. You misplaced yours at the house somewhere.” And she turned it over and said, even more accusingly, “Then why does it say ‘Grace’ on it?!” I knew the gig was up. You can’t teach your kids to be honest when you lie through your teeth to them. But on the same visit, when Nadia saw her horse shirt and shouted, “Mommm!!!!! Really???????” I lied – again - and told her it wasn’t hers. Thankfully, her name wasn’t written on it anywhere so I was able to weather the suspicion. Apparently, I also learned that I shouldn’t be the one to teach the kids about honesty.

In these last few days of summer, before the start of school, I hope I learn exactly one more thing….that even when I’m convinced I’m on the precipice of crazy, I never actually fall over the edge(!!!).