I came downstairs the other night and found Michelle sitting on the couch surrounded by a calendar, her laptop and 22 open browser tabs. It was summer camp planning time! After looking at our planned vacations, the sometimes stressful experience last year, and the general cost now with two kids going to camp full-time, we actually ended up scaling back the number of camps.
A bit counterintuitive, but it was just too much. Too much money, too much scheduling, too much logistics. Life is tough enough without stressing about what the kids will be doing on a random August Tuesday in May while it’s dark and raining and forty degrees out. We don’t need more excuses to drink wine.
We’ve decided to stop trying to constantly schedule engaging experiences each and every day. Just being at home together living our lives is good and enough.
So we are trying a less is more summer. The kids will have a few camps (can’t stay no to every theatre and musical camp!) and a few weeks on the Cape but mostly they will be home wandering around in the cul-de-sac. They will likely get bored at some point. They will likely get into petty sibling fights. They will definitely drive me crazy, too, but that’s all part of summer vacation.
Along with the wine, of course.
Another week, another milestone. The girls became latch key kids last week. I had work meetings in the city and there was going to be a gap in time where the girls would be home alone after school for an hour.
Ce was excited. Ally was more apprehensive. I think she was more concerned with what the unfettered power of big sister might unleash than the prospect of being without parental supervision.
She also expressed a less founded apprehension that a random thunderstorm would hit while they were by themselves. We went over the weather reports very thoroughly. I’m not sure she was convinced.
In the end, a little freedom was a good thing. I came home and the house was intact. They had made a snack (even making one for me), started their homework, and not spilled too much glitter. I’ll consider that a successful experiment in independence and free range parenting.
I know pretty soon the girls will expect to be left alone and will only try to find me if the WiFi isn’t working and that’s okay. Gotta let ‘em grow up. Slowly, if possible.
We had a plumber stop by recently to fix an outdoor faucet (assuming it ever gets warm enough plant the garden) and he made an offhand comment about “back when we were kids.” I looked around to see who else he was lumping into this inclusive pronoun. Clearly this man was at least 15 years older than me. Or, so I thought.
I’m already very comfortable falling asleep in front of the television by nine o’clock. I regularly need to do ear hair maintenance. It’s been a solid decade since I could even think about sitting cross-legged. You all know I play more dominoes than actually going out to bars. I’m going to chalk up not being able to tell whether a person is 35 or 55 as another sign of aging.
Turns out if you can’t spot the middle aged person in the room….
Similar to winter piano recital, the spring dance recital day is full of nerves, excitement, energy, sequins, and smiles. I’ve learned to mostly make myself scarce on recital morning. I contribute driving and logistics throughout the year but even after ten years I remain mostly useless with hair and makeup.
It’s been rewarding to watch both girls both progress throughout this year and also continue to progress year over year. It allowed me the perfect opening to opine on two of my favorite Dad subjects: the power of deliberate practice and how to deal with failure. Queue the girls rolling their eyes but I know some part of them is listening.
To develop mastery in anything you need deliberate practice. You can’t just repeat the same task over and over, you need to break it down and work on the individual parts. And not the easy parts. You need to work on the hard stuff.
Remember, failure is a key part of learning. You shouldn’t try to fail or focus on the failure itself. Instead, you should see it as temporary situation. The biggest question isn’t how or why you failed but how you respond to failure.
Are you going to let a few missing sequins ruin your day or are you going to put on a smile and take the stage?
This is what my Dad-brain thinks about after marinating in a vacation week stew of trampoline parks, turnpike traffic jams, and puddle jumping…
Our kids like broccoli. We’ve trained them from an early age that a meal includes a fruit, a vegetable, and a main item. Most often they choose broccoli or edamame as the vegetable. This training, however has had an unintended consequence. They only like a very specific kind of broccoli. Microwaved frozen florets. The only thing worse is frozen cuts. Fresh broccoli or steamed broccoli or roasted broccoli might as well be a different thing altogether.
I’ve tried reasoning with them but you can guess how that went. I’m not sure why this bothers me. Feels like an insult to broccoli though.
Like I said, vacation week, Dad brain.
If you live up here long enough you end up with a story or a connection to the marathon. A little over ten years ago, we were nearing Michelle’s due date and had one last wellness appointment with the doctor. As we were checking out, a nurse handed me a photocopied sheet of paper with hieroglyphics on it. It might have generously been called a map. It was mostly boxes, arrows and a few squiggles.
“They close the roads.”
“If you need to get to hospital during the marathon you’ll have to use the fire road.”
Thankfully, Cecilia missed the marathon by a couple days. Her birth was stressful enough without adding an off-road adventure. The map wasn’t needed but every time marathon monday approaches I think of all the parents nervously sweating out the start time for reasons that have nothing to do with running.
So Chelle-bration week has wrapped up. Cake has been eaten. Presents opened. Friends have stopped by. It wasn’t the original planned karaoke blowout, and while I did re-learn all the lyrics to ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire,’ I’m not complaining! Food, friends, and dominoes worked out just fine.
It might be all the champagne this week but we’ve both turned a bit reflective now that we are in the 40 club.
What exactly have we learned? A couple things, I hope. This is for the girls. Maybe they’ll read it one day. Or maybe Alexa will project it directly onto their brain. Too bad flash cards don’t work like that, huh, Ce!