Jason has been gone about a week and a half. No biggie, but I’ve made the transition from “my, it’s nice to have control of the TV” to “Ugh, I miss him.” But hey, five more weeks is nothing compared to deployment. But it’s not Jason that’s killing me… it’s these kids.
Okay, I am well aware that there are mothers out there who adore the summer. They post on FB all the great things they’re doing, and the fabulous ways they keep their kids entertained when they’re off school. They make crafts out of air, magic, and unicorn dust… and I’m sure deer volunteer to do their chores as they sing the day away. I am not this mother.
No, I am the mother who takes a look at August on the calendar and thinks “THIS IS THE LONGEST MONTH EVER IN THE CREATION OF ALL THE WORLD.” Sue me. I have five kiddos during the summer, because I’m blessed to have my step-daughter with us. After two months of summer vacation, (School starts up here in September), they are ready to play Yarros-Survivor and start kicking their brothers off the island. It is a constant struggle to keep them entertained, teach them independence, and stop them from forming a small gang of ruffians. Trust me, there are days I feel like handing them over to the folks at American Gladiator and letting them beat each other with those foam sticks. My sister once described my house as “Lord of the Flies.” How annoyingly accurate. No, I do not let them dress Diesel (our english bulldog) up as a pig or hunt him.
So, this morning, I came downstairs to the beautiful symphony of screaming boys at war over wii usage at seven a.m. Seriously boys, I haven’t had my coffee yet, you really don’t want to start this. Mentally, I went through the possible scenario of putting them in a box and shipping them to their dad. I mean, if I put enough water and snack in there…. right?
I avoided the “back in my day, we played OUTSIDE in the summer” lecture and did the only thing I could think of besides banish them all to their rooms. I tossed them into the car. Forty minutes and one turn-around-we-missed-the-turn later, I took the kids hiking in the Adirondacks. I figured if they were yelling at one another up there, at least no one could hear them, right?
What a change! They went from surly, unruly, grumpy little territorial monsters to this:
That’s Aaron, our oldest, helping Brody, our youngest, spot the itty-bitty fishies in the creek. I’ve always said, when the kids are cranky, toss them in the water. Thank goodness it did the trick. For two hours, I got to see more of this:
And no fighting for two blissful hours. We hiked up to the waterfalls, and they helped each other, explored, and pointed out every creepy-crawly thing they saw.
We did a scavenger hunt (thank you Pinterest, I knew those hundreds of pins I had for moments when I felt uncharacteristically energetic would pay off one day), and they stopped fighting over who got to do what, and became little teams of pine-cone and frog seekers.
Aaron and Aidan teaming up to find their list of hidden little treasures. These guys are often at each other’s throats, so it was pretty wonderful to absorb their moment of peace.
Brody and Chase were spied in the distance holding hands and seeking out frogs. Too perfect.
The bigs (Aaron and Aidan) also got a kick out of the fact that Chase became a man today. They taught him to pee in the woods.
Doesn’t he look too entirely proud of himself?
So here’s my moral of the story: Summer can be rough in this house when tempers flare, boredom peaks, and dad’s not around to balance me out when I lose my cool and start packing crazy. Therefore, I need to become more proactive. Before I let it get to the eye-twitching stage, I need to change it up for them, and that’s on me. They are bright, beautiful, kind little kiddos, and it’s my job to bring out the best in them. So, we’ll choose nature and smiles over electronics and screaming. Besides, they go back to school in three weeks, and before I know it this summer will have passed, and they will be onto another year in school and in life. We’ll hike slowly with pre-schoolers, help one another scramble over rocks, and team up in this just like we do in our every day life. We make a pretty awesome team.
Man. They’re freaking cute. I just need to remember to take them back to nature when they start to go all Lord of the Flies on me. Wait. Maybe not. I don’t think it turned out well for those prep school boys… but it works for us. It also tired them out, so at 4:15 pm, nine hours after scream-a-palooza began, all I can hear……… is quiet.