Ah, summer . . . sunshine, fun at the pool, outdoor fun, time to relax! It sounds wonderful. Add six active kids to the mix and there is a noticeable shift.
Fozzy and I now chuckle while we recall the good 'ole days, when summer meant school was out and my youngsters were home for twelve weeks. We could sleep in, play at the pool, nap when time permitted, visit the zoo countless times, and eat dinner on the deck. I was always happiest when the kids were home. They would thud quietly down the stairs in the morning wearing their summer pajamas with their squinty eyes buried behind puffy cheeks. I would be greeted by their raspy voice as they cozied up on the couch. Once their sleepiness was replaced with playfulness, they would gobble up breakfast while we made plans for the day.
Flash forward eight years: while I still prefer summer to any other time of year, the start of this glorious season is typically marred by my kitchen becoming a dumping site for backpacks jammed with partially used school supplies and more paperwork than a lawyers' office sees in a year. Groggy morning routines transform from stringent school schedules, to chilly swim practices. Swim team practice snaps into place without allowing any days for sleeping in. The prepping for school questions of: "Am I getting hot lunch?" "Did you put my homework in my backpack?" "Did you sign my test?" are replaced with: "Where is my suit?" "Isn't it too cool for practice today?" "Why did you wake me up so early?" "Can't I skip today?"
Of course swim team isn't the only event listed on our bigger-than-life kitchen calendar/ dry erase board. There is football camp, piano, drivers ed, Irish dancing, fiddle lessons, and basketball camp. Caddying at the local golf course may not be noted on the board, but it is a daily expectation for Laddie and Eddie. Birthday parties litter the board like random strips of ripped up wrapping paper. Despite busy summer events, we still manage to log several hours a week at the local pool.
The pool has always been our favorite summer hangout. Some of my kids were born with the hereditary webbed toes that run in my family. Years ago my sister-in-law joked that my kids were part fish after witnessing them take to the water at a very young age. Swimming benefited me in many ways: 1. It wore the kids out. 2. The pool was never boring. 3. It saved us money, because once the annual fee was paid, why go anywhere else? 4. Social time for the kids. A number of friends would show up on any given day. 5. Social time for me. I met other moms and looked forward to having adult chats while the kids played with their toy boats. 6. A clean house. OK, let's pretend that my house was clean (a rare occasion). Spending the majority of our day soaking up the sun meant if I pulled the place together occasionally, it would stay that way. Of course, it also made it difficult to get household tasks complete. But laundry, bathroom scrubbing, and vacuuming would always wait for a rainy day.
A recent rainy day reminded me of how different life is now that my kids relish being rascals. It was a Monday, so the golf course was closed. Laddie and Eddie's presence in the home changes the whole dynamic. The weather was unseasonably cool, so a trip to the pool was out of the question. Our plan was to visit the zoo the next day with friends. I welcomed the opportunity to get something done in the house. I cracked the whip and insisted that everyone get a solid piano practice in along with a bit of reading and a math worksheet. There are always chores for the kids to do around the house, so I reminded them of that as well. (Translation: plenty for them to do). I busied myself trying to organize the school supply/ workbook cabinet that was overloaded and mostly ignored.
In the morning between a few of my swim team drop offs I discovered that some of my offspring had opened and eaten most of a box of cookies . . . all before ten in the morning. The wrapper was in the trash, which is how I knew that something was up. I had only purchased the cookies the night before. Tetonka eventually fessed up and showed me where he was storing the remainder of the treats. He also ratted out Laddie and Eddie for their involvement. Shock! The box lay on the dining room floor covered loosely by a paper towel. What a great invitation to ants and other pests!
One of the day's events included the removal of a screen from the girls' second floor bedroom window by Laddie and Eddie. After luring Tetonka over to the area below the window the two hooligans dumped a bucket of water on him. I didn't realize for hours that they did not replace the screen after completing the stunt. Fortunately, no little sisters (aka Curly) were in danger of plunging out of the window, because Curly and Mini were busy playing together in the basement. (ah, girls) Luckily, no birds confused the girls' room for a nesting area before I snapped the screen into place.
Laddie also caught a young bird. He ripped up a screen that he stumbled upon in the garage to cover the shoe box that he was keeping it in until he 'found it's parents' and released it a few short hours later.
Tetonka and Eddie began a squirt gun battle in the backyard. Although Laddie had instructions to paint part of the dining room, he managed to join in the water gun fight. His only obstacle (besides painting, which was clearly not a priority to him) was his lack of a water gun. He grabbed the small plastic water bottle that I keep in the kitchen to refresh Curly after a particularly good sleep mattes down her locks. Of course the little pink bottle wasn't built for combat and it was broken in no time. Eddie's squirt bottle was just a larger version of Curly's. He brought his home from school filled with a sample of a natural cleaning supply that they had concocted in science class. He swore that he rinsed it out before he began squirting people with it, but his opponents gave off a minty scent for the rest of the day.
Ah summer! At least now that I am not pregnant or nursing, I can enjoy an occasional adult beverage, because there are days when their lack of impulse control just about sends me over the edge.