Now I don’t want to jump the gun or jinx anything, but it’s been two weeks since school has gotten out, and I think I’ve solved summer. Not once, not one single time has any of my littles asked me “What can I do for fun?” or said the B-word. (I mean “bored”, by the way. They aren’t teenagers yet, thank goodness.)
Here’s how it goes down. The little boys wake up in the morning and start shaking their door and yelling, “MOM! I need to go potty!” So I let them out of their room which I lock from the outside to keep Salty from burning us to a crisp in our beds or whatever other trouble he might get into unleashed upon the house at night. Then they pile into my bed and fight over who gets to be the pickle, the peanut butter and the Oreo in the bed sandwich which makes them realize, “I’m hungry!” And so we get up for breakfast and start on our summer checklists. They load their dishes. They dress themselves. I put one boy to work on a writing lesson while I teach the other a reading lesson then swap. Fluffernutter during this time is reading and playing piano. Then they all have to play together creatively for an hour. This is the best. They come up with all sorts of fun activities. Currently they are enacting an elaborate space travel scenario in their cardboard rockets. They’ve been to the moon, Jupiter, Neptune, and Spain.
After that I generally do have to nag Salty to make his bed, and help clean up their toys. Salty subsists primarily on chocolate milk and nagging, though, so that’s no big deal. The first week of making their beds was pathetic. All they have to do is spread their quilt over a toddler mattress, but you’d think I was asking them to follow elaborate origami instructions. The first couple of times, I watched them hopelessly slapping at the wrinkles as though that might flatten them and thought, “Children are the future? Glad I’ll be dead.” They are doing much better this week though.
Then after a nice lunch featuring both prunes and Boost with Fiber to keep them regular, I take them to the gym so they can do an exercise class while I drive away cackling maniacally. When I return to pick them up we’re all surprisingly glad to see each other again. And then with the checklists complete, I release the iPads and set to work on the many projects on my own checklist. I vowed to have the trim up in Flufferella’s room by the end of June, and I made it!
The summer checklist program has the twin virtues of structure and autonomy. The kids know what is expected of them, and they are mostly in charge of how quickly they get it done and therefore, how much screentime they get. Because the unyielding requirements of the checklist are the gateway to Stampy Longnose videos on youtube, Fluffernutter has never practiced piano more faithfully or advanced so quickly in math, and both of the boys are reading 3 letter words and grasping the concept of blanket smoothing, more or less. I may need to add or substitute things to the list to keep the screen time at about the level I want it to be, but currently, they are busy all day, so I’m good.
Couple other things. First, I’m excited that people are actually buying my Black and White Movie Quote Spice Labels, by the by. If you bought one and are reading this, thank you!
Second, the landscaping company that cut down my cherry trees was really, really nice about it and agreed to replace them with…drumroll…dogwoods! God bless America.
I apologized to the crew that I screamed at and to the manager who wasn’t there for Hurricane Heather (but who was responsible for marking the trees and telling the crew to cut them). The manager said, “Thanks for your patience,” to which I responded, “I found some eventually” at which the English speaker on the crew laughed out loud. That was not my finest hour. Most hours are not my finest because my finest hour was the hour I spent getting massaged with coffee and chocolate on the beach in Bali. In fact, that hour ruined all other hours for me. Thanks for reminding me how disappointing my life has been since 6pm, January 10th, 2009.