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.
Just without all the sunscreen each morning. I won’t miss the sunscreen.
I wouldn’t have the weather to blame for any poor performance this year. This past Saturday was very mild (for August in New England) with low humidity. Past Brew Runs have been unholy slogs through a thick paste of water vapor and scorching sun. Not this year! This might have been the best weather The Brew Run has had in years.
Like Falmouth, The Brew Run is one of those funky throwback races before standard measurements like 5 and 10k’s where people just ran point-to-point or in some arbitrary circle. For the record it’s 5.2 miles with plenty of water stops and lots of crowds both running and cheering. You won’t be running alone in this race.
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.
Also, the custodian. I’m down with him, too.
In the summer, things slow down and that slower pace can allow some time to reflect. Unless you do track workouts with your running group on summer nights, then the pace picks up, but maybe there’s still time to reflect. When you are finished. And gasping for breath. And hunched over your shoes.
That was me last Thursday at the side of the track wondering, Why do I do this? Thirty years into this why am I still running? There’s the obvious and rationale answer that as long as I am running and I’m getting faster than I’m not getting older. But if I push past he greeting card philosophy, I’d say I’m still doing it because I rarely feel more alive than when I’m running. I feel the most comfortable with who I am when I run.
Running, like writing, is about putting in the work day after. It doesn’t come quickly or easily. There’s something elemental about the process that I really enjoy. It forces you to be patient with yourself and willing to go to uncomfortable places. There are just no shortcuts.
Not a bad example to set for the girls.
We were down at the Cape for most of the holiday week and it seems fitting on the Fourth of July that the girls got a little more independence this year. While they are not swimming alone or biking off down 6A to the General Store, they do now have the freedom to pedal around the complex and go for low-tide beach walks.
It’s been good for all of us. If a mid-afternoon lull sets in or if they just can’t survive without dessert immediately, we can shove them out the door and tell them to pedal around for 30 minutes until the second, mmm, maybe third, bottle of wine kicks in. Let freedom ring!
This spring we won a raffle for a round of golf and a hotel stay on the Cape. Ironically, it’s about a mile from Grammie and Poppy’s place in Brewster. It also couldn’t be used during the summer or during holidays….so, welcome to the Cape in the offseason!
The great thing about visiting the Cape in the off-season is there are no waits, no crowds, and very little traffic. Dash is allowed on the beach. Lobster rolls are $2. The sharks have moved on. The bike path becomes a moving escalator. I’m kidding about the lobster rolls.
On the other hand, visiting the Cape in that vacation wasteland between Labor Day and Memorial Day means a whole lot of things are closed. If you’re not into visiting organic cranberry bogs, you might have a hard time finding something to do. Luckily for the girls, the hotel gave us access to an indoor pool or they might have been new temporary Ocean Spray employees for the weekend
The girls spent last week at the Cape attending Camp Grammie (& Poppy). According to them, they spent their days swimming, looking for sand dollars, staying up late, painting, eating ice cream at every meal, and making memories. Pretty much what girls their age should be doing in the summer. Grammie assured me there was some broccoli and even a little reading during the week, but no dreaded math facts.
With the girls away, it allowed Michelle and I to…. work more and watch Netflix on the couch a few hours earlier. I think the quiet almost shocked us into a state of indolence. Turns out, there is a rhythm to the house that you come to rely on to keep you on track when everyone is operating near the edge of exhaustion.