Summer is my favorite season of the year. At least this is what I tell myself when I am dreaming of warm weather, and plunging into nearby Lake Tahoe, and eating s’mores by the campfire. There are so many possible adventures to be had. It is the only time of the year when I have all three of my children with me, and the years are short. It feels like an opportunity that must be seized. Summer is such an idyllic, lazy season. No rules. No rush. Nothing but endless prospects of carefree fun.
At least this is how I feel in May, when the weather is warming and there are about a million school functions and I simply want to throw structure and routine to the wind. But now that it’s August, in the hell-depths of summer, there is nothing I want more than for school to begin.
What started as a season of endless opportunity all too quickly gave way to a season of endless whining, fights and declarations of boredom. My patience and enthusiasm dwindled and eventually died out completely. Today, our afternoon activity was literally a package of Starbursts. I opened them, put them on the floor, and left my children to do whatever Lord of the Flies stuff they wanted while I took a shower. How did I get this disenchanted with summer? Allow me to illustrate for you.
At the start of the summer I had a bucket list of fun activities we would cross off with great delight:
Bake a peach pie? Absolutely! Just ignore the peach napalm scalding my arm and dripping between the oven and countertop. This is totally worth it and will definitely not be the cause of a meltdown when I say we cannot eat pie for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Go to the splash pad? Of course! Why stay in the house and complain about the heat when you can wrap yourself in a wet towel for two hours and complain about being cold. Want to leave? Me too, but at least one of the kids is enjoying the heck out of this and will scream bloody murder the whole way home. Such fun!
Sit on a mountaintop and watch fireworks? What could be better than that! You know what could be better than that? A reasonable bedtime that doesn’t leave everyone sleep deprived for a week because despite our lack of routine, my children all insist on getting up before the sun! Do you know how early the sun is up during the summer? Too damned early. Basically nighttime.
Camping? Yes, please! Camping will be magical. It will not be hours of me telling my children not to poke at that wild poop they found, or not to go too deep in the water because they basically can’t swim, or not to hit each other with sticks or whatever other nonsense they should clearly know not to do without me telling them “no” all day long. NO ONE IS LISTENING. WHY DOESN’T ANYONE LISTEN TO ME EVER?
Honestly, those words are basically the anthem of summer at this point. No one listens. Ever. Mostly because they are screaming so loudly that they can’t hear me over the din of their fights. What are they fighting about? Everything. Their toast is cut the wrong way. The sun is too hot. They don’t want to watch the same TV show. They don’t want to play with each other but also don’t want to separate and do their own thing for any amount of time whatsoever. They want pie for dinner. They’re tired. They want to go to new places, so they can complain about new things. They are BORED.
Needless to say, I’m not bucket-listing much at this point in the summer. The enriching experiences I now plan for my kids involve “getting yourself breakfast because it is still dark out and I cannot even” and “learning how to use the remote so I don’t have to mediate fights about Paw Patrol.” It’s like Montessori, but with lots of screen time. I want them to be independent children who don’t need no mom. Because you know what mom needs? Some peace and quiet.
You know what sounds magical right now? Fall. Strident and stressful routines that lead to a few blissful hours a day when I am not trapped in a house with three feral children. Structure. School. Silence. I am ready to get up early with a purpose — the purpose of getting these kids the heck out of my house.
I am ready for them to leave, to step into another first day of school as I am yet again blindsided by how fast this parenting thing is passing me by. I am ready to ugly cry in an empty house. I’m ready to miss them. Excited and nervous and relieved and guilty all at the same time. I am ready for school to start, and yet, as always, not ready at all.