Another one of just one of those days. We’ve been on summer vacation since Tuesday, and already the kids are a little restless, ill behaved, seeking a new routine to ground their days. Unsettled, we are all sniping at one another, navigating the forest of Nothing To Do.
Recently, as we discussed children, in particular how some need to be entertained every moment of the day, Uncle Frank quipped, “I tell them you are not bored, you are boring.” How great, I thought, how true. Kids who are bored just don’t know how to be creative. They never learned that skill. Not my kids, though. I am proud of my ability to leave my kids alone to figure out how to amuse themselves. This creative time for them usually gets them out of the kitchen so I can pry yesterday’s Cheerios from the wall behind Ellie’s booster chair or find out what that hairy thing under the stove really is.
Now if only I could be relaxed about the havoc they wreak during their invented games.
See, that’s my problem. I can’t let go of my compulsion for tidiness, order, peace. Since children by their very nature defy these characteristics, I am in big trouble as a parent.
It’s a control thing. You know, like today. All we had to do was get to the grocery store to pick up a few things we couldn’t get on our real trip two days ago (super-size pack of toilet paper, diapers, etc.). Getting to the car took fifteen minutes. Getting everyone buckled up, another five. A five minute drive to Stop and Shop. Getting out of the car and into the store, ten minutes, due to a certain two-year-old’s refusal to do anything but what she wants to do when she wants to do it. Thirty minutes in the store. Another ten to load car with purchases and children; another five home; another ten out.
An hour and a half to get six things. Had I been alone, it would’ve taken fifteen, maybe twenty.
So a summer of this sort of thing lays before me like a choppy sea. Maybe I could’ve made it fun for them, a treasure hunt, an adventure, something to get them excited about going to the store, being at the store, listening to Mommy, but honestly, I’m tired of being Jenny the Cruise Director. Tired of having to come up with the nonstop entertainment, menus, sleeping arrangements, maintenance for this Love Boat. Every day. Without break. Since 2002.
Just get in the car, I say. Why? Because I said so.
Sometimes I envy Moms who go to work, just because they get a change of scene. Or Moms with regular babysitters, nannies, time on the weekends to do stuff — ridiculous five minute errands! — without the kids in tow.
Sigh. I know I am having a right old pity party. I know it goes way too fast, I know I am so so so fortunate to be able to be here with my four children for every second, waking or not, of their rapidly changing lives. I know. But every once in a while a vacation is nice too.
Tomorrow we have a family outing for most of the day, Ray’s firm’s summer outing, full of games, fun, food. The kids will be crazy with fun, sticky and overheated, just the way kids should be in the summertime. In the evening Ray and I are going to a grownup party. I’m excited for that, even though a part of me sort of just wants everyone else to go to the party so I can have some peace and quiet.
Even as I type this, Cooper creeps down the stairs (having been tucked in quite a while ago) and stands next to me, trying to be quiet, but unable to stop giggling. “Mommy, will you have a cuddle with me?”
Yeah, I know. I can have some peace and quiet right now, but hey. I may be self-pitying, but I’m no fool. How much longer will my only son want me to cuddle and sing him to sleep?
Gotta go. See you tomorrow on the Promenade Deck.