Summertime

It’s hard to get mad at your younger kid when after being tucked into bed, he comes creeping out silently and explains that he “needs a friend” to sleep with him and gently takes your hand.

It’s equally hard to not be smitten with your older kid as he describes the puppet he made at camp as a “peacock rainbow peregrine falcon“, complete with multi-colored feathers pasted onto a brown paper bag.

Right now the days are warm and full.

Most mornings we rise about seven, the earliest I can tolerate the boys waking up, and a perfect time to escape outside to greet the sun with a jar of chilled water tucked bedside my bedside from the night before.

Daily we check on the heavy, stooped sunflower the size of a dinner plate– no, bigger! — as it sighs and leans heavily forward. This rogue bloom grew from a seed of seasons past. It is too heavy to look up toward the sun, but instead tucks it mammoth and beautiful face gently toward the lawn.

Honey bees swarm within its delicate, golden petals. It must be like an all-you-can-eat buffet, I think.

Oh, I want to keep bees.

This summer has given me memories of summers past… swimming, sunshine, hamacas, and heat. I’ve never not-worked-full-time as far as I can remember, and so this season has given me time to embrace the garden, realize the daytime, and swallow or scream my impatience time after time as I move through the day with young boys.

In the past year, my oldest learned to read, bike and swim. In the past month, my youngest (finally) learned to use the potty reliably and wakes up dry. Like most kids their age, this isn’t a big deal. But my dad reminded me yesterday that these life skills are critical. He compared this set of accomplishments to a young adult getting a PhD, and it sounded like the former set of skills far outweighed the latter. Coming from a man who highly values formal education, this was high praise indeed.

Years ago, I gave a newspaper to a man whom I’d known for about three months during my tenure as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic. He thanked me and tucked it by his side, nodding his gratitude. No big deal. Later, his wife explained loudly that he couldn’t read. That fact did not seem to disturb her.

It was what it was.

To me, however, it was a great big slap in the face.

He can’t read?!

Can.Not.Read.

My first world, over-privileged  heart considered what it might be like to not read. I can’t do it.  I’m not a stellar writer nor interpreter of great written works, but I love to read and write. I’m the one scribbling through conference calls and meetings, most notes taken that make sense but occasionally supplemented by swirls and dots and squares to add silent spice to the dialog.

I cannot imagine life without the pen.

Over the past few weeks, my family and I have slipped full-on into summertime. We are active during the day, shuttling back and forth to swimming lessons and camps and park time  and the climbing gym and fountains and backyard play. Evenings are perfect for a movie or I-pad play, and we’re less restrictive of screen time then.

As I powered down the video last night, I said, “books are more important than movies”.

And my oldest killed me by saying, “Why?” and “They are not!”

And I gave the brilliant answer of, “because books are so much better than movies!”.

Good job, Mom.

It’s a teaching job, this parenting gig. I freaked out for a moment when I considered raising a child (or two) who preferred TV & movies to books, but I believe the three are totally okay in some sort of combination.

My dad might be reading, so I should probably add live theater to the mix, too.

Growing up my father took my sisters and I to many plays in the Washington DC metropolitan area. His true love is Shakespeare, England’s national poet and playwright, and because of my father I have seen several of his major works performed on stage. It takes a while for the ear (or at least, my ear) to get used to the language of the actors, but once you do, it’s magical.

But in the end I’ll take books over television, magazines over Facebook, novels over live theater. I don’t yet read books on a Kindle or a Nook though I would save plenty of dollars if I did. I like paper, and paperback, and notebooks — there are notebooks all over our house. Small, big, dog-eyed, torn. I’ll take them all.

Today my oldest has been jonesin’ to get his I-pad privileges back all day. He knew I was within listening distance when he said sweetly, “Max, you’re the best brother I’ve ever had and the best brother in the whole world even when you make bad choices all the time.”

His brother replied, “I love you and I will never go away.”

Sunk, hook, line, and sinker, that’s me.

I’m a Mom. One who disciplines. One who makes poor choices, too, all the time. And yet there’s so much more to mom-ing. I read. Write. Think. Daydream. I am unsuccessful of tending to tedious domestic chores on a regular basis, and yet I am good at reading books to my children and patient as the eldest learns to sound words out. There is the good, the bad, and the ugly of parenting. I yell, they yell. We all huddle and take deep breaths.

We’re good, truly.

Oh summertime, spiderwebs, sunflowers and golden sun. Oh endless laundry and filling of water bottles and constant reminders to settle down, stop squabbling, use your words. Oh sweet sneaking ninja boys who crawl out of bed and ask for one last story. Oh panting dog on the deck who misses his Labrador Days.

As my eldest said the other night during pre-dinner gratitudes, “I am thankful for the Beatles, the band, and the beetles, like, the real life bugs.”

I am grateful for it all.

grande girasol

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One thought on “Summertime

  1. paralaxvu says:

    As I am ever grateful for you and your writing.

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