Summer’s coming and I am glad.
While I love the change in routine that summer brings, there are some very key ways that I would like this coming summer to NOT resemble last summer. I’m a big fan of free time for kids. You know, time to decompress, daydream, be a little bored. That sounds good in theory but in reality, last summer, this was me:
And this was them:
As much as I hate to admit it, I do way too many things for my kids, and not because I’m all that nice. I just forgot to notice that while I’ve been busy wiping counters and making haircut appointments, they have been growing up.
And so it has come to pass that I am, in many ways, exactly the kind of mom I always swore I would never be.
Let me paint a picture: Recently, I handed my 14 year old a can opener to use, and he looked at it like this:
That was my ah-hah moment.
This kid is capable of so many things. He is a fine upstanding gentlemen in the making and yet my perfectly smart enough teenager is mystified by how to get to the refried beans.
(Note to my son, on the very off chance that he may one day read this: Dude, this is on me. Why, if you have someone removing from under your bed the cereal bowls that have grown fur, would you ever need to do it yourself? And, in fairness, our can opener sucks. But still.)
I decided to do a little online research, with the goal being to find someone better at all this than me, and just, you know, do what they do.
Here’s a chart I got from a blog called Modest Mom. Her world view and politics are pretty polar opposite to my own, but you know what? She’s got six– count ’em six kids and they all do shit!
According to her chart, my boys have been skating by like eight year olds when it comes to their domestic duties. So while I may not want to party with this gal, I say don’t be modest, sister, because– except for the part where you give a pass to those freeloading one year olds— you are killing it in the child labor department!
Sheesh- my kids don’t have to do daily Bible study and they don’t do half this stuff.
But today is the first day of the rest of my life, and as Modest Mom is my witness, here’s what my two little stinkers will be doing come September, or else. (Do not ask me or else what. I don’t know what. Something tells me MM would have a few ideas.)
Make their own lunches. I can’t believe I’m outing myself here, but I’ll admit this has been a control thing for me. What can I say, I’m a little weird about the balanced meal thing. (Humble brag– learned it on Facebook.)
But here’s the thing– they don’t eat what I pack anyway, so I am finally doing what I should have done years ago: giving up.
I have a feeling Giving Up is the secret sauce to sane parenting, at least as it applies to cleanliness and feeding. So, I will clear my house of all the crap “food” and they can have whatever is left, with no comment from me.
Late to the party, I know.
Wash their own dishes, like, ALL THE TIME. Gone are the days when I will put lipstick on the pig of housework and try to make chores fun. My dear husband is a great one for turning on loud classic rock during dinner clean up, and that’s fine because he likes it, but I actually do not see this translating into my sons wiping down the stove with any more gusto than if AC/DC wasn’t blasting from the radio.
My plan includes a rotating schedule for dinner dishes, and then a clean-as-you-go kind of thing for the rest of the day. Loud music, timers, games and cheeriness optional.
Cook something that isn’t a quesadilla. My boys have inherited their dad’s complete and total aversion to all things culinary. When they were little, we baked bread. I know because I have the pictures to prove it. We made cookies and pancakes, and they took to it so naturally, it seemed, but it turned out that what I thought was an aptitude for cooking was really really just an aptitude for licking the bowl.
To all the young moms out there who’s kids love gardening and grocery shopping and your favorite bands, I say enjoy it now because one day all those things you thought you knew about your little darlings will come crashing down around you and you will be face to face with someone who is probably totally awesome but who is maybe not awesome in the exact way you *planned* for them to be awesome, and this can be quite a blow.
To get my kids up to speed with the pits and pans, I (with the help of Blue Apron 2x a week), plan to change that. I’m hoping that all that practice assembling Lego sets will come in handy when I hand them the box. What could possibly go wrong??
Do hard work that is not pretend hard work. Guilty. I have given my kids faux chores for years to make myself feel better. I could sleep at night knowing that my kids were not some special snowflakes– no! They fed the dog, for god’s sake. They unloaded the dishwasher and made sure the toilet was flushed before company came over (keeping’ it classy, y’all). I was raising young men who would know the value of hard work; why just look at them sweep the front porch, would you???
You guys, those are the same jobs they’ve had since they were in booster seats, and while I give them props for never giving me grief about doing them, I think that might be because they just don’t want to call attention to the sweet gig that they’ve had for the past several years. The last time I sent my son out to weed the front yard, he lasted twenty minutes and then needed to convaless for the better part of the afternoon.
No more, my darling.
Time to get real. Our fridge needs cleaning, the garbage bins need scrubbing and the patio furniture needs scouring.
From here on out, I will perform the duties of my new job as my sons’ Uber, with a smile. This will, however, require that I resign, effective immediately, from any job that includes me sweating under my boobs while scraping melted fruit rollups off the backseat of our Honda.
Seems like a fair trade.
In closing, this summer will not be last summer. This summer we will disperse the load. This summer I will give up a little control and my boys will give up a little free time, and all of us will struggle with that, I’m sure. But I’m optimistic.
I’ll let you know how it goes.