Boy Tricks

It is the nine-to-twelve year old boy fantasy, at least for our son.  He is able to play video games for hours on a 60-inch screen, with his two girl cousins cheering him on, laughing at his jokes, learning and repeating the secret songs he knows from the bus and his friends.  We make them turn off the tv to play shuffleboard or eat dinner or swing some golf clubs or play a family game, but the little trio eventually retreats back to the media room, Ronan with the controls and the girls watching, giggling, directing him how to move.

He is on stage,  teaching them songs about Barney that your toddlers should not know with lovely lyrics like

“A-B-C-D-E-F-G Barney is my enemy…” and “Joy to the World that Barney is dead.  We barbequed his head…”

and burping tricks and Wii shortcuts.  And they wonder–why would anyone make a booby trap?  What kind of traps throw boobs?  Oh yeah, that’s the thirteen year and older fantasy.

Cousin fun. C

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Relish Your Ink-Free Days

The clock is now running at high speed, hands spinning faster and faster as we hurtle towards the start of school, trying to absorb the ending summer days while working and shopping for school supplies and marking schedules on the calendar and starting practices and buying clothes and STOP! 

Lean back slowly, close your eyes, take a deep breath through your nose while counting one-two-three, exhale through your mouth, and suddenly the clock decelerates to normal speed, frantic thoughts flow in a straight line and some of the extra mental weight simply vanishes.  As we parents consciously strive to Slow the pace down, our children can hopefully follow our paths, frenetic movements disappearing into the haze.

It is not easy in today’s environment to Slow down, take a breath, when everywhere we see HURRY!  NOW!  GO! The thought of falling behind the group is terrifying at first, then acceptable, as we realize that we don’t need to fall out with our friends simply because we say NO sometimes to one more outing or one more label or one more activity.

I have spent this summer physically and mentally trying to Slow down our family, and it is not easy.  But it’s working, and we all seem happier, more relaxed. (see 23 June post for more information on Slowing down)   Two weekends ago, with my daughters just back from camp, we were swimming in our nearby lake, lounging on our huge blow-up raft nicknamed The Island of Doom- the best $60 investment I made last summer–when my older daughter asked me “What else are we doing today?”

“This is it.  This is all I have planned, ” I replied as I watched the clouds dancing across the sky, a cool breeze shimmering over the water.

“OK,” she smiled, diving into the water.  And we hung out on the water and the beach, until the kids were ready to head home to start dinner.

This past weekend we amazingly had our second free consecutive Sunday.  After an early morning grocery run, we spent the day not filing or shopping or cleaning but going on a long bike ride with a picnic, as I wrote about yesterday. 

When given the freedom of an empty calendar, don’t always feel the need to fill it in.  Explore your local area, have a picnic with friends, take your kids shopping, lay in the hammock, work in your gardern, go to the movies, play a game, visit somewhere you have never been or somewhere familiar that you have not seen in awhile.  Do not let the lack of ink on that day scare you-as I think it does some-but embrace your free time.  

I find that the more days we have carved a singular activity out of an ink-free day, the more we crave it.  As our family has become closer and more content this summer, I hope can extend this Slowness into the school year. C

A Separate Life

I have long thought of my children as a part of me, an extension of me-my husband-my parents-our upbringing-our beliefs-their friends–where we live-their hobbies and interests-but always a part of me.  While they head off to school each morning, then to their activities and other outings , I have long felt they were an integral part of who I am.  As they are growing older, I am becoming more aware of them choosing what to claim as their own.

This becomes abundantly clear as I peruse the daily online camp photos, searching for pictures of them in new activities, giggling with people I do not know, and involved in camp rituals of which I will never be a part.  I miss their laughing faces, I yearn to know what they are becoming as they test the waters (literally) around them. 

It becomes a more separate life, as our children grow and reach and develop into who they will become, as we did. They will have their private codes, things hidden from me, secrets they keep from their friends, and thoughts they will even hide from themselves.

I realize that I can only guide them on their journey as they create new paths, follow some already lain, get lost and hopefully found, in a quest to Be.  May the voyages never end; I am still searching and wandering my own paths, not knowing where they will lead.  Camp is a short stop in their trek, but one where they will hopefully learn to fend without their parents and usual cohorts. C

Soccer Knees

The thought of practicing “diving headers”, while the ground is soft enough to swallow cleatless-shoes and drops of half-frozen rain skitter from the sky, makes me shiver.  To my daughter, this was the most fun practice she had all season.  In mud from the front of her face to the heels on her socks, she was still giggling as she hopped in the shower to scrub down.

While she was writhing in mud,  I was cheering on my son as he scored a goal during his soccer game, wrapped in a down sleeping bag, wearing my hat and gloves.  This would be followed later in the day by opening baseball day in the same stop-and-go relentless windy rain.

My friends and I watched that never-ending baseball game yesterday,  knowing it was part of the mom (and dad) job description to suffer through the game hoping for one successful hit or a catch, the latter rare for 8-year-olds.

Yes, my weekends and after-school time is filled watching endless soccer, baseball, and basketball games, concerts and dance recitals,  boys climbing trees and me cleaning the scrapes that follow the fall, tennis in the driveway, practicing spelling words, which is the new High School Musical poster on the wall?, tears after a bad game, testing the newest cookie recipe, wearing handmade jewelry, and paging through scores of school sheets.

It’s time-consuming, it’s wonderful, it’s spontaneous, it’s sometimes maddening, it’s eye-opening, it’s stressful, and I hope for them to succeed in each endeavor they try.  It’s my job, and I love it and the things my children teach me.  I laugh with them, cry with them, cheer with them, scold them when they need it, and hug them even when they don’t. 

I will suffer through the rain-filled days, because I know tomorrow may be sunny. With maybe a surprise sparkling rainbow in-between. C