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….
Each year Chelle buys a big five-pound bag of candy. Each year we get between 2 and 4 trick-or-treaters. Each year I complain. Each year she says, “Just in case.” Luckily, this is also how she approaches buying wine so I have plenty of opportunities to pair the remaining 4.8 pounds of candy with the perfect red.
Both girls wore off-the-rack costumes heavy on the glitter. Feels like we passed into a new phase this year. They both embraced the vampires and skeletons motif over princesses or ruffles. There were still sparkles but also fake blood. Sort of had me missing Minnie Mouse.
They did their own makeup, too. I’m pretty sure this was the part of Halloween they enjoyed most even though it appeared as if they both took heavy hits of lithium before applying, but the end result certainly fit their ghoulish look and we avoided tears. Wins all around.
Can I share the happiest fifteen minutes of my week? Believe it or not, it involves the trombone. Like many new kids starting out on an instrument and dreaming of being Katy Perry or T. Swift, the reality of learning an instrument quickly sets in. Practice, say for the piano or trombone, for instance, can quickly become a grind, for parent and child alike.
To her credit, Ce’s enthusiasm for the trombone remains high after almost a month and this week I feel like we might have crossed some magical rubicon. Typically, Ce will practice by racing through each song, good or bad, three times and calling it a day. It drives me crazy. I’ve been preaching for the last year about deliberate practice. Don’t just play the song, work on the song. Go over a sticky measure a few times. Or practice her scales. You can imagine how that went over. About as well as suggesting doing flash cards for “fun.” Fun!
However, this week, out of the blue, she used the piano to help find some notes for the trombone. And then she went over that string of notes over and over. Deliberately. It felt like the heavens had cracked open. I’m honestly not sure if she knew how to practice before. It was like a veil was lifted from her eyes. She was excited. I was excited. At least until she went back to Hot Cross Buns…
Cecilia and Ally have spent many weekend mornings cheering me, or Michelle, on at various finishing lines. They have gone to the Boston Marathon almost every year they’ve been alive. They have been unofficial timers and participants at Thursday track workouts. They are quite used to me referring to Desi, Shalane, and Meb as if they are my personal friends. They are still young enough to think that most other parents get up and run in the dark.
So they really didn’t bat an eye as I’ve been enthusiastically talking about my “friend” Eluid Kipchoge after he destroyed the marathon world record two weeks ago. I was reminded in this article just why he remains a good role model for the girls and how many running lessons translate to good parenting lessons, too:
Overcome challenges – do not let that tricky math problem get the best of you
Keep calm and carry on – no one plays a new piano song right the first time, frustration isn’t going to help anyone
Planning is key – flash cards, piano, reading: a well-documented routine keeps everyone (i.e., Dad) happy
Be humble – even if you do get on the podium, Dad is still making dinner and walking the dog
Maybe one day the girls will grow up to write a musical about runners!
We start Saturday where we always start…..
Sometimes you see yourself in your kids in the oddest ways. September brings school, soccer, hurricane season and, of course, the first school-borne viruses and colds. We woke up (early) Thursday morning to that dreaded barking seal cough echoing down the hallway. Even with the immunity armor of five years of day care, Ally still picked up a bug in her first few weeks of kindergarten. I suppose I should be relived it wasn’t measles or scarlet fever.
There’s a clear dichotomy in our family in how we respond to illnesses. Michelle flat out refuses to acknowledge she is sick. She has to collapse at 2 a.m. in the bathroom or be admitted to the ER before she might consider taking an aspirin. Being sick just doesn’t fit into her plans. Cecilia is much the same. Even if you witness her sneezing, she will adamantly refuse to admit she actually did. She’s only missed 3 days of school total so far.
I, on the other hand, treat any sniffle or throat tickle like a pending doomsday scenario. I start guzzling herbal tea and green smoothies by the quart as if I can drown the germs in hippie goodness and save myself. I’ll wrap myself in warm baths and comfy sweatpants. I’ll seriously consider going to bed by 4:30 if it will help me get better faster.
Allison takes after her Dad. She believes any dose of medicine is all the passkey to endless hours on the couch binging on Netflix, Saltines and popsicles. Who am I to disagree?