It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year…A Back to School Special

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alex and katie sand chairThe kids are going back to school. Without me.

Just kidding – I’m sure I’ll need to be there for a PTO meeting, training about how to behave in the library, volunteering in the library, concerts, art shows, art class volunteer duty – here’s your glue, book fair, holiday fair, fair’s fair, the mini marathon what-now, drop off, pick up, rainy days, you forgot your lunch/ boots/ mittens/ hat/ don’t call DYFS I swear I told my kid to dress warmly, pizza day, taco day, what is that on your lunch tray day, and of course, special events day. Because the other events were all not special enough. Am I bitter? Not really. Just tired.

Sometimes people ask me if I like being a stay at home mom. Firstly, if I said “no”, you’d think I was a horrible mother who didn’t love her children, or that I don’t appreciate the opportunity to be with them and not “have” to work. Trust me, I appreciate not having to drag my butt to an office every day. Secondly, I’m not a stay at home mom. I’m a drive all over the place for my kids, run errands, do grocery shopping six times a day, wait I forgot we need propane for the grill head back out, and where are the dogs they need a walk mom. I don’t like it all the time. But I love my kids. Most of the time.

I love them the most the day after school lets out. Then summer happens. And we begin to like each other less and less as the sunscreen bottle depletes. It’s the end of summer – and here’s where I am:

I stopped caring if they sunscreened their arms. Just do your face. And ears and neck. I don’t think I lasted more than a day asking them to sunscreen their legs. So my children are sort of ombre – dark legs gradually lightening to pale ghost-like faces. When Katie does a handstand in the pool she could be mistaken for a different race. Alex is so dark I think he can camouflage himself with tree bark. They’re fine.

I stopped caring if they ate. I mean, seriously? Three meals a day? AND two snacks and then you tell me you want dessert? Are you out of your minds? Get it yourself. I started summer by planting a garden with (organic) tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and herbs. Thought this would be the summer when we finally hit our target for vegetable servings in a day. I swear that was made up by cows and chickens and pigs who don’t want you to eat them – just eat veggies. Now when the kids whine they are “starving” or just start getting low blood sugar hangry I tell them to find the leftover potato chips in their beach bag from yesterday. No its not sand, that’s salt. Eat it.

I stopped caring what they wear. We started the summer with a drawer full of matching swim suits and sun shirts and cute little short and tops. We somehow have lost all the swim suits so that my kids now ask if they can swim in their regular clothes. Fine. I don’t care. It has to get washed anyway.

I stopped caring if they bathe or brush their teeth. Really I think our standards for when you need to shower are overly dramatic in America anyway. We are spoiled with running water and hot water heaters. I used to make the kids bathe after every hop in the pool. Then we negotiated and made that every other day. Now I only insist on a shower if I can see small pond creatures coming out of their hair. Or my kids smell. Really smell. I think this should be the new standard. It would save water too, which California would really appreciate. So by my NJ kids smelling just a little, think of how many millions of people we are helping on the other coast? Ditto on wasting water to do something boring like brushing teeth. Once a day is fine. Whatever. Every other day. Your teeth are starting to match the color of your legs. It’s all fine.

I stopped caring what time it is. You want to start a movie? Awesome. It’s only 8:30 so that’s a good idea because I am tired and I want to sit my tuckus on the couch. Sure, watch the whole thing. I don’t want to argue with you about bedtime because I am too tired so let’s just wait for the credits to make an appearance and decide when you go to sleep.

I stopped caring about technology usage.  In the beginning of summer we had rules for access to and limits on time spent on technology and video games. You had to have read an entire novel and practiced math until you understood Einstein’s general concepts before anything with a plug or screen was allowed. That would earn you 20 minutes.  Now we have a general sense that after the children have exhausted me to the point of needing a nap they are able to gorge on tech time like leeches. Or vampires. Or vampire leeches.  Minecraft is still a fave, but it’s escalated into “mods”, because Alex, who’s 12, knows how to complete a download process that allows him to bring things like gravity guns and evil minions to battle and kill creepers, endermen, withers and enderdragons.  He’s convinced me that this is STEM – so it’s like real learning. Katie invited cousins and friends to join their “realm”, so she’s made it an online social event. Fake fantasy social, but social. It continues. Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe has replaced all the fuzzy little friendly things in the house. Now, it’s Superman, Batman, and Wonderwoman fighting for their lives against Scorpion, Liu Kang, and Raiden. Obviously it requires a great deal of strategic thinking to work these battles and decide when it’s appropriate for freeze breath, laser vision and throw into the moon combos. Katie only chooses female warriors, so that’s sort of like women’s studies. Female empowerment at least. But it escalates from there. Assassin’s Creed, the rated “M” game that my son somehow smuggled into the house that I swore I would never allow, has him assassinating “Lobsterback” British Generals in 3D HD strategic combat. Because it takes place during the Revolution, I count this as studying history. I figure if he lived back then, he would have been the drummer boy and seen it in real flesh. This way seems safer. Go for it. Kill the bad guys. Zzzz.

I stopped caring about behavior. Yes you can have your friends over. Yes, all 9 of them. Yes, they can bring their Nerf guns, water guns, fake grenades, and real smoke bombs. And yes, you can go get your sister from her friend’s house by pretending you are an angry junior mafia and you are taking her hostage. Sure, lock her in the bathroom when you get back. Just give her a snack. Yes potato chips are fine. I  actually think this is highly creative. It’s all fine.

The other thing that is going to stop is this thing called summer. And while I will miss my daily Vitamin D named the SUN and reading too many vampire books and not caring what day of the week it is, I am glad to have a seasonal change to reset. Back to school – back to being a good mom, well at least better than this one.

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