Monday, August 26, 2013

suggested. not mandatory.

In 2 weeks from today my girls will have completed their first days back at school.  Fourth grade for Bailey (Seriously.  How am I not medicated right now?!  Fourth grade?!) and second grade for Tate (anything is younger than fourth.  Except fifth, sixth, seventh...oh Lord help me.)

During dinner time on that first day back I will have heard about friends in their classes and what they think of their teacher.  They will have returned home with their bookbags overflowing with papers to be signed and it will take me an hour filling in the calendar with all of the "dates to note."  Taylor will flop on the couch exhausted from having to be "on" all day, and the only words I can say to her for a good hour is "do you want a little butter on your popcorn Sissy?" (the answer is always yes.  She takes after her mama.)  Bailey will be tired too, but physically instead of socially, and will require Gatorade, a snack and power of the remote.

I didn't miss school this summer, and my girls didn't either.  I didn't miss the morning rush of attempting to entice Taylor in getting ready without threatening or yelling, and I didn't miss looking at the clock in a panic knowing I still had to do a 20 minute treatment on Bailey when I only had 18 minutes before the bus came.  The bus even comes right to my house (praise God) and many mornings we were still rushed.  We didn't miss squeezing in homework and a rest time after school before jumping in the van to go to choir or dance.  I didn't miss packing lunches and then seeing 8 out of 10 grapes return home, smushed.  We didn't miss homework.

The girls had lists of "Suggested Summer Reading."  Suggested to me meant not mandatory.  But even still, I meant to take a trip to the library and check some of those books out.  Really, I did.  I even meant to see if any were free or cheap on my Kindle.  Really, I did.  But I didn't.  I read them one chapter aloud of Anne of Green Gables and they read books they already own, and only when I insisted.  Yup.

Taylor still receives speech help at school, and came home with a summer calendar, where every (yes.  every.) date had a "suggested" activity.  Again, I take that to mean not mandatory.  So no, I didn't ask her to describe to me characteristics of an apple and a banana, how they are similar and how they are different.  No, I didn't enlist her to lead a Simon Says game where she must use "under, over, sideways, on top, on the bottom" as a guide.  We played Marco Polo in the pool a few times, and Monopoly once.  Taylor was the banker.  So maybe I didn't help her speech at all, but I felt really good about her math skills that night.  Really good.

I'm hoping my lack of consistency in the girls' education will all come out in the wash.  I'm hoping they're smart enough to just catch up with all the other kids whose parents equipped them with the tools necessary to learn stuff this summer.  My kids didn't really learn stuff.   But I'll tell you what we did do.

The beach.  A lot.

The pool.  Pools.  A lot.

The lake.  Not as much.  But we still hit that.

Homemade milkshakes, zucchini bread and popsicles.

Painting, drawing, sketching and chalk in the driveway.

Sleepovers with friends.  Made bracelets with these friends that they will tell you - ONLY if they think you'll believe them - that if they wear them every day and never take them off, they'll someday become mermaids.

"Upside down" day - spaghetti for breakfast, bagel for lunch and eggs for dinner.  Pajamas all day and slept in their day clothes.  They laughed so hard they had a hard time going to sleep that night, all because they were wearing skirts to bed.

Vacationed with Nan and Pop in Wildwood for two weeks.  Boogie boarding, swimming, bike riding for Bailey, and sleeping in for Tate.  Morning walks to get coffee and donuts at the neighborhood bakery.  Visiting friends in Cape May and searching for Cape May diamonds.  Diving into the waves like the mermaids they are, and playing with their Barbies in the sand.  Rides at night and late night moonlit walks on the beach.  Kisses for their mommy under the stars.

Gymnastics camp for a few days while staying with Nana.  Swimming in the pool, eating in front of the tv, walks to feed the ducks, a successful clothing trip to Target and playing with their one year old cousin.

2 weeks at 2 different VBS's.  Hearing from adults other than us that God loves them and they are created to do good things.  Too many crafts to count.

Meals for a few families that needed them, helping me make them and then delivering them. Praying for the family during the car ride there.

TV, movies, computer and Ipods.  Sometimes all in the same morning.

And some more swimming.

This has nothing to do with this post.  But how cute are they.  

What did we do?  A lot and nothing.  It was summer.  And it was great.  Princeton will always be there...but my kids will not.  Is there perhaps a way to have both...endless summer childhood fun plus the suggested summer reading?  Probably.  But I never have been a good multitasking mommy.  And "endless summer childhood fun" is an oxymoron.

Someday, when my kids are grown...and yes, most likely not Princeton alums, but I'm more than ok with that...I hope they remember their summers fondly.

I hope they remember being children.  

Bonus if they can tell the characteristics of an apple and a banana, how they are similar and how they are different.

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