I read a blog yesterday by Sunflower Girl (“Drop and Give Me Twenty”, Freshly Pressed); she sounded stressed and grumpy – she’s at home for the summer in command of four boys who are waging war with each other from the sounds of it. She says her husband is sometimes considered the fifth boy (I totally get that). Her post was hilarious and brutally honest. Yep, there are times when my two kidlets (3 if you count their father) drive me to the point where I want to put them on a chain gang. Someone responded to her post telling her to get some parenting skills and stop using school as a babysitter. Really? I mean, really?
That gentleman simply cannot have children. He cannot. And, if he does, are they programmed little automatons? Stepford Kids? Is he Captain von Trapp, with a dog whistle? In spite of what previous posts say about my parenting skills, my husband and I are responsible, caring, dedicated parents who want nothing but the best for our children. And still, the little urchins freakin’ misbehave. All the time. They talk back, they fight with each other, they leave trails of food from one end of the house to the other as if they were Hansel and Gretel. They leave lights on, use all the hot water and refuse to stop drinking milk right out of the carton. I yell and yell and yell. I swear, sometimes in two languages. And yes, they’ve been hearing me swear since…since…well, in utero. Doesn’t everybody swear when they drive? I call them ill-mannered monkey-faced weasels and worse. I have, perhaps more than once, threatened to a) sell them on EBay b) send them to military school c)sell them to a military school advertised on EBay.
I would venture to say that even the saintliest of parents look upon the arrival of summer with some trepidation – unless they’re rich enough to pull their little darlings from private school and then put them on a private jet to Swiss yodeling camp for 8 weeks or so. Summer is camp time, to be sure but which camp? At what cost? Day camp or away camp? If camp is not an option, what then? Summer equals free time which equals trouble. Well, sometimes. We want our kids to get fresh air, exercise, and also some much needed down time. But, not too much. If my 11 year old had his way, he’d stay in the basement all summer playing video games, never to see the light of a summer’s day.
I will banish my kids from the house as much as I can – to the pool! To the beach! To the library! (Ok, a mom can dream, can she not?) What I don’t want them doing is just loitering at the mall or in the park. That’s when I start to get a little nervous. I will spend a good portion of my time and energy this summer keeping them occupied and out of trouble. I won’t be alone in this pursuit.
So what parent doesn’t breathe a sigh of relief as Labour Day rolls around? I cannot imagine. At school, you know where they are (presumably). They are relatively safe (one dearly hopes). They are learning (again, one dearly hopes). When my son asked last year if he could be home schooled it was everything I could do not to head for the liquor cabinet right then and there.
If Sunflower Girl wants to approach summer as a boot camp for her kids, I cannot judge her. If I could get my kids to just do their year-round chores without a fuss, I’d feel ahead of the game. Sure, I want my kids to have a happy summer. I just don’t want too many gray hairs as a result.