A new blog post on the BAM Radio Network – I hope you enjoy!
Parenting on the Verge
The school year can feel very long sometimes. Somewhere around March when the snow won’t melt and everything is grey and you’re close to offering up your first born in exchange for a sunny day and some budding trees, it starts to feel very long. At that point summer feels like a hazy fantasy, a tease on the calendar. And then summer arrives… and you realize that there are ways in which summer is longer than the school year.
There are ways in which 2 is more than 28. 28 kids entertain each other. 2 kids fight. While they’d like to play with anyone (ANYONE!) other than their sibling, everyone else is on holiday, or at camp, or whitewater rafting someplace way more exciting than what you, mommy, have to offer. 28 kids have a custodian. 2 kids have me: chief activities coordinator and janitor. So, it’s hard, during the summer, to give my kids the leeway to be creative and explore in the ways that I would like them to because, lordy, I’m just so tired of cleaning my house! (And we moved this summer, so that may account for some of my impatience.)
It’s also been hard to let my now 6-year old big boy have the independence he is so craving. Oh, I talk a good talk about The Land adventure playground in Wales and I’m a big fan of blogger Lenore Skenazy but when I watch my little boy bike down the street and out of sight all by himself, I have to swallow a big lump in my throat and hold myself back from running after him. But, oh, the reward is in how proud he is of himself that he crossed the street alone, that he remembered to look both ways, that he got up that big hill without having to walk his bike once, that he stopped at the stop sign. He’s so excited. I’m excited too… it’s just that it feels like walking on the edge of cliff, being on the verge of peril and greatness at the same time.
I am finding that, the more I document play at school, the harder it is to stop at home. I find myself constantly taking note of all the cool things my kids do while they play. This summer has been no exception. Children are amazing at finding ways to entertain themselves, even in very challenging circumstances. Lunch with the extended family gets too long? Set up a restaurant at the nearby tables and take each other’s orders!
When every single toy in the house has been packed… use the moving boxes to make forts!
And after you’ve moved, use the moving boxes in place of painting paper… because Mommy still hasn’t found the box with the paper!
Oh, and hit your brother, that’s always good for a few minutes of entertainment.
In the end, I’m looking forward to going back to school.
But… I’ll miss these long and lazy days, the morning snuggles, the endless books, building forts in the bush, the evening bike rides, and the visits from friends.
I may even miss the fighting, just a little.
I have this thing about turtles. I love them. There’s just something about them, their pace, their vulnerability when crossing highways, their longevity, their awkwardness on land that contrasts with their grace in the water (any dancer will understand this); it’s all very appealing to me. I frequently find myself rescuing them from the side of highways, sprinting across the road in my flip flops, risking my own neck for theirs.
I also love that they know how to take it easy. They climb up onto a rock or a log and bask, just happy to soak in the heat. I think I’m jealous of them. We once had an apartment that was too big for the amount of furniture we owned. We had a south-facing window in that apartment and I used to curl up on the brand-new carpeting sometimes and nap in the puddle of sunshine on the floor. It felt amazing. I hope that’s what it feels like to be a turtle in the summertime.
I wish that’s what it felt like it to be a teacher in the summertime but I confess that it’s not, at least not for me. I know we get a lot of flack for how many holidays we get and, really, I promise, I’m not complaining. But… and maybe it’s because I have young kids of my own now, or because I’ve never really taken a summer completely off (filing them with courses has been my speciality), or just because this summer has been so darn cold, I’ve been finding it very hard to revel in the lightness of summer, to bask in the heat.
I feel like I spent the first few weeks missing my students and worrying about the ones that might not be having such a great summer, catching up on housework, checking of items on my to-do list that had languished there for months, shuttling my own kids to camp programs and catching up on sleep. Now I’ve switched into scouting mode. I found the most gorgeous gardening store while we were away and bought an amazing metal sphere to hang in the classroom. I don’t know what we’re going to do with it exactly but I’m psyched to find out. I feel like I should submit an entry to this book, just to satisfy my own curiosity.
I’m looking towards September with equal part thrilling excitement and total dread. After a few weeks, I no longer remember how I manage to keep all those balls in the air and my juggling muscles start to atrophy. The pace will be relentless and I forget that too easily. I’m going to spend these last few weeks trying to channel my inner turtle by finding a puddle of sunshine to bask in.