For our family, the dawn of summer is Thursday. Tomorrow is my daughter's last day as a first grader (gulp -- making me old!), and the children in our neighborhood are hovering a few inches off the sidewalks, a-quiver with excitement and end-of-year-party sugar. In their minds, summer is a big, sticky jumble of water slides, Popsicles, movie theaters, and time in their pajamas.
Meanwhile, the moms are quivering with different emotions. You can see the fear in their eyes, and not just because it's bathing suit season and they aren't tan yet. We see a different sticky jumble: bad post-pool hair, sandy kitchen floors, a trunk full of wet toys, bodies stuffed into damp one-piece bathing suits (my bikini days are over, dear ones), and mornings spent trying to tame dust bunnies and laundry while two small children wail, "I'm bored!"
Sophia keeps telling Livie, "I'm going to be home with you every day for 10 whole weeks!" Livie responds with a blend of confusion, anticipation and indifference, not knowing what 10 weeks means and being slightly threatened by the fact that she will apparently have to share Mommy.
Ten weeks. Am I excited by the prospect of not having to be seen in public with my children and a packed lunch by 8 a.m.? Yes indeed! Do I feel equally delighted that I shall now have more children to entertain all day long for an entire season while still keeping up with housekeeping and pesky chores like feeding my family? Um, can I plead the Fifth?
Faced with this yawning gap of free days, I feel the need to make lists. Here's my proposed summer plan for the Anderson girls, party of three:
Mondays: Errands and house cleaning . This will be Sophia's first summer getting an allowance, so she gets some official chores to do.
Tuesdays and Wednesdays: Pool, beach and adventure days. Last year, once a week we did something we termed adventurous, including a day at L.A. museums, a ride in the Great Park hot air balloon (free!) and a drive to Great Grandma's with a visit to downtown Temecula thrown in. We also learned that lazy days at home meant more sibling brawls. Most days, we need to be out of the house (read: site of caged death match) by 10 a.m.
Thursday: Bible study in the morning and sometimes beach with Grandma (who is planning Wednesday night sleepovers for the girls) in the afternoon
Friday: Donuts and Starbucks in our pajamas. Mommy included. The rest of the day, we'll wing it.
Somewhere in there we have VBS, swimming lessons, City of Irvine science day camp, a trip to visit a friend in the Bay Area, Saturday concerts in the park, and a family camping trip.
As a wise friend once said to me about parenting, "The days are long but the years are short." If Sophia goes off to college at the age of 18, that means I only have eleven summers left with her. Probably more like six, since at 13, I'm guessing hanging by the pool with mom is going to be, like, so not happening. And here's a happy thought: I like water slides, Popsicles, movie theaters, and time in my pajamas. So watch me embrace the chaos, friends. Summertime, here we come.