Thursday, July 19, 2012

Hot Times, Summer in the Suburbs

I find myself singing a lot of Annie during the summer. Particularly, It's the Hard Knock Life. That song runs through my head every time I pick up or drop off my children from their various summer activities. As they are busy little beavers, I hear this song a lot. Sadly, the irony is lost on them.

You see, summer is not about sitting lazily around the house, playing happily in the yard, whiling away the time with books, board games, and bike trips around the block. Or, at least it isn't for my kids. My kids get evil when they have nothing but time on their hands. Give them an empty day, chock full of opportunity and they will give me nothing but hell on earth. I don't live in a mansion by any means, but I do happen to have both a living room and a family room, plus a downstairs playroom, and each kid has a toy bin in their own, private rooms. Even with my rudimentary math skills, that adds up to four possible play places for each child at any given moment, not counting the great outdoors. Where do I always find them? In the same room, on the same couch, fighting over the same toy, trying to sit on the same cushion. Why? It's a mystery.

To ensure that I end the summer with the same number of kids I started it with, I enrolled them in multiple summer camps. Of course, both kids can't do every camp, the number of days per week range from two to five, some are at night, some only once per week but over a month-long period, some were free, some were not, etc. (But strangely, all end by noon). An actual spreadsheet was created, color-coded, and continually updated to keep track of who was going where when (and for how much). Oh, and don't forget, we joined the town pool to keep them busy in the afternoons, so a secondary calendar was created to log just how many days we spend there to get the proper ROI at the end of summer.

The town pool has proven to be a Godsend as both kids always find someone their age to play with and can happily ignore each other. The big girl is a free-range swimmer who wanders at will between the diving well and the deep end of the regular pool. The little guy still requires my attention, but he's only allowed in the three-foot deep section and that is well within his comfort level. The pool also helps me keep the fainting goats at bay. The higher the heat index, the harder my stupid syndrome is to manage. As I don't want my kids to do nothing but watch movies in air conditioning all summer, the pool allows me to keep my body temp down while keeping their exercise and socialization up. Win/win!

In between all the various camps and time spent at the pool, there are our weekly trips to the library. My daughter is fully embracing multiple summer reading programs and is on a quest to win as much junk and as many free books as possible. My son, while too little to participate, is enjoying the ancillary benefits of being bought new books because we feel guilty whenever she gets a new one and he doesn't. As a result, our collection of superhero books in growing in leaps and bounds. Then there are of course the movies, the play dates, the BBQ's, the day trips, sporting events, and all the summer fairs. It's exhausting.

Am I complaining? Nope. I know damn well that I am incredibly lucky to spend all this time with my kids. I'm lucky that I can afford to keep them out and about. Growing up, summer consisted entirely of arguing with my father over which was one of was stuck rubbing Ban de Soleil on my mother, a dedicated sunbather who rotated every 30 minutes via egg timer and started every summer beige but ended it burnt umber. She didn't have a buffet of vacation bible schools (religious affiliation not necessary), or sports camps, or story times, or free movies to for me to attend. Cable barely existed and VCR's were still a few years away. I sat and I read indoors (in a haunted house without air conditioning) or I sat and I read outdoors (and tried to time my bathroom breaks with her egg timer).

So, in this summer of heat and drought, the sun will always come out tomorrow/You can bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there'll be sun - and my kids will be out enjoying it, with or without my direct supervision.    

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