I hate summer. It’s hot. It’s sticky. It’s buggy. The days are endless and need to be filled on a constant basis with new activities. Every water park, amusement park, zoo, and aquarium is filled with families desperate for fun and all roads that lead to the shore are jam-packed with cars. Throw in the cost of the average outing and stay-cations start to seem like a perfect idea – until you realize all that means is that you are still at home, but for an extended period of time.
What to do, what to do? Play outdoors? In summer, an average day means that the kids cannot go outside without being shellacked in a healthy coat of sunscreen. When they sweat or play various water-based activities, the cycle of spray, melt, repeat begins. Then they start to stink. Hose water leaves a metallic undercoat to them, pool water, a chemical one. Feet are rank from sandals and their hair has bits of leaves and grass stuck in it. If they were lucky enough to be given popsicles, that adds a layer of sticky, multi-colored stains to their bodies and clothing. By the end of the day, I don’t need a wash cloth; I need a scrub brush and a scraper to get the various coats of grossness off them. That doesn’t even include their nails, which at this point, I am thinking of removing entirely rather than try to uncaulk the layers of gunk and dirt they seem to acquire within minutes of going outside. Thank god for Shout stain remover, because without it, I would be reduced to tie-dying all of my children’s clothes to cover the spots or moving to a nudist colony. And people, no one wants to see me naked.
Ok, how ‘bout keeping them indoors? I heard once that having children relatively close in age means they will play with each other. That is so not the case in this house. Left to his own devices, my son could sit inside at his train table alternating between Thomas and Lightning McQueen or outside in the water table alternating between boats and pails for hours, with occasional breaks for snacks. Left to her own devices, my daughter goes crazy. Even the mandatory quiet time is usually filled with the dual sounds of audio books played on her iPod and princess games played on her Leapster. Combined, they two cancel each other out entirely as she refuses to leave him alone and he refuses to let her join in. I can’t count the times I remind them to share, play nice, don’t hit, don’t yell, etc. I wonder if there is an App for that? Rare is the moment that they can actually occupy the same space without inflicting bodily harm. Sure, I can actually play with them, but I can only play so many rounds of Hungry Hungry Hippos before wanting to serve them with a side of cornbread and both kids cheat at Candy Land.
Find free activities! Yes, that is always the answer, but how many vacation bible schools can one child attend before getting confused about religion? Several theaters have free summer movies in the morning, and there is usually a story time at a local library or bookstore once per week to keep us entertained. A park visit here, a play date there, a random birthday party or visit with grandparents here can easily fill a few hours per week. But this is summer! They get up at dawn; try to linger on til dusk. That’s a lot of time to fill. Lots of summer activities start when their day is usually ending (fireworks, baseball games, etc.) so one late night of fun equals two days of grumpiness. And that’s just me. They turn into beasts that make the ones in the Wild Things seem like fluffy bunnies.
Paid activities could fill the entire summer, but they will also empty my entire bank account. There are enough camps, clubs, teams, and memberships to keep any child occupied, but the trick is to find one that takes both children for a short period of time and a little amount of money. That’s quite a hat trick. Just one of the three doesn’t do me a whole lot of good.
What is a mother to do? Well, I could stop bitching and realize how lucky I am to even have endless summer days to spend with them, before school calendars erode into our time or before the jig really is up and I have to go back to work. But what fun would that be? Or more importantly, who would want to read that blog? Instead, I will just keep plugging away, trying to find the balance between play and rest, sun and shade until I send my daughter to full-day kindergarten and find myself writing a post of a different nature about how I miss all the time I had with her. (Yeah, right.)