(Breaking news…I had a whole thought! It only took me three years to develop! At this rate I will surely be a rocket scientist in the next century or so.)
Here we are in the downward slide towards back-to-school, and I find myself with the strangely familiar late-summer feelings toward my children. Feelings like: wow, I really love being with them. I mean, I always love my children, of course. But being with them–all of them—all the time–is not always fun.
I find that I start my summers with expectations. Expectations of time, of quiet, of toys put where toys go. I’m spoiled by preschool hours, and early June is a rude awakening. I spend the first month of summer struggling against it. If you’ve ever had toddlers, you know this is a losing battle.
By late July, I’ve given up my expectations. Quiet? Don’t remember it. Toys? The floor is their new home. Water balloons in the late afternoon? Consider yourself bathed.
Miraculously, just when I lay down my rights to personal space and an audience-free shower, it gets good.
Case in point: I started the summer determined to break Bo of his infuriating habit of whining. I gave him five whining tickets a day and when they were done he had to go to bed early. (Thank you, John Rosemond, for that two week long experiment in banging my head against a wall. I kind of suspected that I disliked you, but now I know for sure.)
Somewhere toward the end of June, even more irritated than before, I threw up my hands and started a Warm Fuzzy jar. Suddenly, instead of noticing how much he whines, I notice how much he helps and how incredibly generous he is. He still whines a lot. I mean, a lot-a lot. I just care less. And it’s so much better this way.
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I will be glad to regain some of my mental bandwidth when the boys are in school a few mornings a week. It will be much quieter around here, for sure. The toys will stay in the toy bin. I might actually get a few minutes where someone is not demanding a snack ten minutes after a meal.
But before that happens, I’m going to try to squeeze in all the kisses, all the popsicles, and all the sweetness of three babies in the summertime. They will never be almost 6, almost 4, and almost 2 again, after all. There’s mess here– no doubt about that. But there’s magic, too. Late summer magic.