I admit it, I am not a huge social media person. I forget to take pictures every Saturday to help with Mike’s blog post. I have less than 100 pictures on my Instagram. The pictures I do take are not perfect. They usually are crooked. I don’t pay attention to backgrounds. If I do edit them, I just touch the magic wand on the screen and call it a day. So you can imagine the whole family was a little nervous when I announced I was going to write a guest post while Mike was away running the Ragnar event in New Hampshire with the Soles.
This year we are not using any after-school care for Cecilia. She’s coming home on the bus each day. I usually still have calls or work to be done for a few hours once she is back. We are trying to treat this as an opportunity to further build her trustworthiness and make good on her word. In the morning, we talk about what she needs to get done each day.
I remember coming home by myself or with my sister. I believe if kids don’t feel trusted, they’ll have a tough time becoming independent and respecting themselves. I want her to have that independence. I really need her to have it. I can’t go through middle school again.
If she all does that? More freedom and responsibility. If not? More conversation, sorry, opportunities, to learn. I actually have more sympathy for some of these types of struggles versus learning vocab or geometry. I work with plenty of adults each day that completely lack time management.
On to Saturday where my own time management was put to the test…
The girls started back to school this week and I’m feeling…stressed and anxious? Probably not completely uncommon but I realized after a little tiff with Cecilia over homework on Day 2 that I really prefer Summer/Camp Dad to School Year Dad.
Not that Summer Dad never gets upset he just seems to listen a little more and snap a little less. I don’t want the one time I’m really present and focused on my kids for the next six months to be only about homework. I might learn a lot about base-10 number systems but maybe not so much about my child.
So, as we talked about the new school year, expectations and goals over dinner this week, I set one of my own: to let go of some of that anxiety and frustration and try to be more like Summer Dad all year long.
Our summer of two islands and two countries has come to an end. A bit of a luxury? Sure. Better than spending that money on day camps, water parks, or new toys? Absolutely.
Our girls definitely learn best by doing. Reading books and looking at pictures is great but nothing beats hands-on experience. One of my many favorite little memories from the past week was passing the Amish family buggy on the road near our rental house and the conversation it sparked with Cecilia. You could almost see how the first hand brush with a vastly differently culture was re-mapping her worldview through curiosity and not skepticism.
Whether we were on a working lobster boat or visiting the community bakery, the girls were able to see firsthand how different cultures live, taste the food, and maybe step into their shoes for a short time. These sensory experiences allow the girls to gain knowledge in a more meaningful way. I think that’s worth stretching the budget for.
If you are reading this it means we’ve survived our 12 hour car trip across the border into Canada without an international incident and are back in PEI for a week of mussels….and not much else beyond a relaxing end to the summer.
Family road trips can be many things but mostly they are a test for parents on how long they can keep kids occupied before the children reach their breaking point. I try to see this as a way to help them develop patience and slowly prepare them for a life of sitting in a cube working on TPS reports.
The girls actually did great. We’ve built up their stamina with road trips to Jersey, Philly, and DC and they handled the extra hours pretty well. We did Harry Potter on audio, they did a few movies, there were silly road games, some French pop on the radio, and a breakfast truck stop.
We have three cardinal rules for our road trips: First, keep everyone fed. Second, embrace the chaos with as much humor and patience as you can muster. Third, always bring baby wipes no matter how old your kids (or their father) get.
The girls were at Camp Grammie again last week so I was free to channel surf without thoughts of pre-teen appropriateness. I ended up catching a big chunk of The Breakfast Club for the first time in years. I, uh, noticed I had a different reaction than when I originally saw it.
Back then I mostly identified with Emilio Esteves’ disaffected and misunderstood jock. Or, at least I wanted to. I was probably (ok, definitely) most like Anthony Michael Hall’s uptight, rule abiding nerd. Watching it now? I am definitely the principal. God help me, I just want to get through the day, enjoy the weekend, and drink my coffee while it’s hot but these pesky kids won’t leave me alone. They don’t listen, they’re noisy, they get into things they’re not supposed to, they don’t sit still, and they are terribly dramatic. So dramatic.
It’s still only the beginning of August but we started blocking out the kid’s fall schedule. It’s going to be busy. My little car is going to be shuffling around Metrowest every afternoon.
I’m happy the girls have lots of interests but we also had to talk about making choices. I had to explain the dangers of FOMO and the myth of keeping up. I got that ‘Dad’ look from both of them. Drama camp has really paid off. They’ve got some some world-class eye-rolling now!
But it’s important, I think. These girls are about to be inundated with options, data, possibilities, and information. If I struggle to deal with it on a daily basis and stay sane, how are pre-teen girls going to handle it? Like a drop of water against a stubborn rock, I’m just going to keep dripping this into their ears and hope it makes a mark.