Do you have to-do lists for your summer vacation? Please say you do, and if you don’t, please lie to me, because I don’t want to be the only Type A, summer-killing, Wicked Witch of the West weenie who made a list, cracked the family whip…and didn’t get a darned thing done, anyway.
What is it with me and summer? I have a friend who takes her kids to the coolest places and does the most interesting things over the summer school break. They camp out in tree houses, fly to other states to attend fairs, go on field trips to meet rulers of the free world.
I told my family we were going to:
1.) Sand and paint the molding throughout the house. It really needs it.
2.) Pull down the hall wallpaper, which we started pulling down 2 years ago until I gouged the wall with the Paper Tiger, and we realized we’d have to drywall, too. It’s time to turn that mess into a proper hallway.
3.) Work on daughter’s spelling, reading and math—just fifteen minutes a day, but we must be disciplined.
4.) Organize all desks, bookshelves and closets so our mornings can proceed in a smooth and joyous fashion.
Of course I planned to reward us for each project we completed. A long bike ride, a sleepover for my daughter, a night out for the hubster and moi.
I was excited about summer, because I envisioned its conclusion with us toasting each other in our clean, lovely, drywalled home while our daughter rattled off a few dozen perfectly spelled, three-syllable words.
Yeah. So here’s what happened:
Me, resplendent in my husband’s tool belt, and holding a clipboard: “Okay, troops, here’s the list of what we’re going to accomplish today!”
Husband: “Great, honey, but before you read that, we’re going to go on a bike ride.”
Me: “Well, actually, I was thinking…”
Daughter: “Yeah, Mom, and when we get back, (insert name of friend here) is coming over, okay? Please? We haven’t seen each other since school and we probably won’t be in the same class next year (she used this same pitch for every friend all summer) and her parents said she could have a play date if you say it’s okay and I promise I’ll learn any words you want me to as soon as she leaves unless you say she can sleepover too can she please?”
I look at husband, who shrugs, not that he even attempts to follow that kind of run-on pleading.
And there I am, left with the drill sergeant and the pushover debating in my head:
We have to get something done. The house is a pit.
Ookay, but it is summer.
Yeah, well the hall looks like a still photo from Nightmare on Elm Street. I’ve seen people tremble on their way to our bathroom. And if DD doesn’t study a little bit, her brain will turn to mush and she’ll start the school year behind all the kids who are studying over the summer, and then she’ll feel bad when the teacher gives her “baby math.”
I know, but it’s summer.
No buts! The closets—
By this time, of course, the husband and daughter have left for their bike ride, and I have decided to do something really useful like vacuum crumbs out of the grooves in the dining table. And, probably, this wouldn’t be a bad thing (there was roughly the equivalent of a loaf of bread in those grooves), except that the debate continues inside my head and every time I see someone to whom I’m related, I grab the clipboard and ask them to commit to a chore and a time slot.
On a couple of occasions, I got them to join me for entire days devoted to one project or another, and when I wasn’t successful, I talked about all the work we still had to do. Doesn’t that sound fun?
And then I heard my husband and daughter talking about the fun they really were having riding their bike rides and playing Karate Kid Meets Ninja Turtle and engaging in an eight-year-old version of Name That Tune.
Up to that point, the most fun my daughter and I had was writing her spelling words on the sidewalk with 3-D chalk. (Well, I had fun.) So I gave up. I put the tool belt in the garage (though I thought it made me look kinda butch in a good way), ditched the clipboard and made plans to have a Halloween party in our hallway.
Tonight Carolyn’s sons are having a sleepover at our place. I walked the dog three miles while the boys and my daughter rode their bikes up and down hills, shrieking like…kids in summer. We got ice cream at the local store, came home to make giant chocolate chip cookies and built our own ice cream sandwiches. Now they’re watching Surf’s Up.
They’re giggling. I feel wonderfully relaxed. And it finally feels like summer.