I know that it's August.
But with a too long school year hampered by gratuitous snow days, 2 weeks of European travel, and 2 weeks of day camp, I feel like the lazy days of summer fell at my feet just days ago.
And I'm panicking.
Summer is good, right? And you want your child to have the freedom to run around with friends and jump from one activity to the next on a whim. But what if all the friends are in camp every day? Or tennis? Or soccer? Or Manga cartooning? Then what happens to our summer?
Summer vacation scares me.........because the fantasy and the reality are often miles apart. And the fallout is a bored kid who watches TV all day. And a frantic mom who tries to squeeze in emails while feeling guilty about her child watching TV all day. I had enough trouble getting things done when he was in school for 6 hours every day; this summer scenario could be like a throwback to the days of "frantic nap syndrome" - an ailment I named in honor of the manic typing that ensues, faster and faster and faster, when you expect to hear a baby crying any minute. But instead of a crying baby, I'll have this:
"Mom! Can I have a cookie?"
"No. You just had breakfast. If you can wait for me to finish this, I'll play a game with you."
(2 minutes later)
"Mom! Mom! Can we go to Subway for lunch?"
"I'm not thinking about lunch right now. I just need to get this done and then I'll play a game with you."
(2 minutes later)
"Mom! Will you play a game with me?"
"I told you I'd play a game with you when I finish this. If you could leave me alone for more than 2 minutes, then I could get it done. And then I'll play a game with you."
(3 minutes later)
"Mom! Has it been more than 2 minutes?"
So I asked Liam what he wanted his summer to look like. And this is what he said:
2. A lot of sleepovers.
3. A lot of playing outside.
4. And a new bike.
I asked if there were any sports he would like to play. "Yes," he said. "Kickball."
I asked if there were any classes he would like to take. "Yes," he said. "Kickball. When is kickball season?"
Why can't he like soccer like every other kid in America? I could find him a soccer club just by closing my eyes and intuiting where to drive. You watch, he'll be the one starting a kickball league in his dorm. They'll play at midnight with balls stolen from the gym closet.
So I try something different. Let's approach this like co-workers. Let's work together.
"Liam.......I have 4 things I need to do today. I need to 1) send an invoice, 2) do a blog post, 3) work on an article for a website, and 4) exercise. What do you need to do today?"
He says he needs to 1) ride his bike, 2) ride his scooter, 3) play baseball and 4) watch TV.
I agree to give him $3.50 to wash the car, thinking that I'm buying more time (literally). But he says, "Maybe you could do some stretches on the driveway while I wash the car for $3.50. That could be your exercise."
Sadly, that may actually be my exercise for the summer. Doing stretches on the driveway. Either way, we agree that after I have finished my list, we can have a free day and do what we want. I get set up in my office while he gets ready to go outside. I hear him leave. I hear him come back. I hear him leave again. I hear him come back. I hear him leave again. And then he comes back. He comes into my office and says "I biked, I scootered, I played baseball. Now I have to watch TV."
On a day when I should be rejoicing in the freedom of it all, I'm wracked with "how is this going to work?"