On the Cusp of a New School Year

Photo courtesy of Tina Sbrigato Conley, http://www.fahrenheitnyc.com/
Photo courtesy of Tina Sbrigato Conley, http://www.fahrenheitnyc.com/

This is transition week in our house. Two kids start tomorrow and the third on Wednesday, but his is only half a day, so really I’m aiming for Thursday as the first day of our new normal. It seems appropriate today to pause and take stock of the summer.

Christian gave us an assignment last week: to make a list of everything we did this summer. He wanted the kids to be a little more cognizant of all the fun they’d had, because there’s been so much whining to the tune of “I want to go……….!” I’ve begun cutting them off sharply, with pointed reminders that we’ve done a ton and they need to be grateful for what they’ve done instead of always greedily grabbing toward more.

  • Carousels: Colorado, County Fair, Mall, Zoo, Royals
  • Circus
  • Car Museum
  • County Fair carnival and demolition derby
  • Monster Truck show (that was actually before school dismissed, but it looms large in their memory)
  • Royals game
  • Zoo
  • Aunt Andrea’s pool and Great Grandma’s player piano
  • Days on the farm
  • Pool, combine ride & fireworks, two of which were with grandparents
  • Weekend with Grandma & Grandpa as babysitters
  • Colorado:
  • Candy Cane City
  • Alex Boy Scout & Avengers theater camp
  • Swim Lessons
  • Stephens Lake playground, picnic & spray park
  • Cosmo playground
  • Band concert at the park
  • Baseball
  • Monsters University
  • Library
  • Little Mates Cove
  • Half a handful of picnics
  • Tiger Walk and Red Mango, last night, to farewell the summer

When it comes right down to it, my own attitude this summer has left something to be desired. I can acknowledge that without beating myself up over it. It would be idiotic, after all, to pretend that the level of screaming, hitting, kicking, shouting, procrastinating, overt and passive defiance and sheer bickering in this house is possible to ignore. I’m learning how to rise above it, but it’s slow going, and I submit that anyone who thinks they could keep their cool through it is delusional.

However, it is easy to focus in on all that static and miss the fact that we really did do lots of life-enriching things this summer. It feels like mostly we stayed in the house and yelled at each other while accomplishing very little chore-doing. But the list tells another story.

I know the coming of the school year is not the nirvana I sometimes make it out to be. The schedule feels like a pot of TNT: Christian teaching lessons two nights a week (i.e. single parenting at bedtime); choir on the third night; meetings and adaptive swim taking up the fourth. And I’ll be starting to teach lessons again, after a summer’s (almost complete) hiatus, which crams more into the witching hour. Plus, Alex adores Michael, and the feeling’s mutual, which means Michael has been very well entertained this summer, and is about to be stuck in a house with Mommy and sometimes one brother who finds him a nuisance rather than a plaything.

Still, the chaos level in the house will drop. Two mornings a week I’ll only have one child. There will be fewer dishes and fewer messes because of the census drop. And it looks like I won’t have to take Julianna to school on preschool days now, because the school start times (and thus the bus schedules) have shifted twenty minutes earlier.

So I have great hopes for the coming months. Today we’re milking summer break for its last dregs: library, homemade funnel cake, and one big honkin’ chore in which the kids clean up the tornado zone they’ve made in the basement before Christian’s piano students arrive this evening.

Ready. Set. Go.