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Posts Tagged ‘summer’

We got the class lists for the kids today. They send them out to us ahead of time so we can all freak out before school starts, instead of after. Asher was the only one I was really concerned about, given his ‘issues,’ and he didn’t get the teacher I wanted, but got one who has been away and who Maya and her friend declared was wonderful, so I’m hopeful. I still emailed with a request to meet all his teachers soon.

Boo could survive pretty much anything so I wasn’t worried, but I was still happy to see she got the teacher Maya had for grade one, whom I loved and not the one Asher had, who told us the reason he was having trouble in school was that we didn’t read to him enough and he was just going to be the kind of kid who always had to work extra hard (code for kinda dumb) and that we shouldn’t have him tested, and who was completely wrong.

Maya’s friends are all in the other class. She is very sad. I am very stressed out. And so it begins.

In honour of this, here’s my latest column:

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I’m handing in this column a day late. That’s because the topic I chose is ‘going back to school.’ By the time you read this, the topic will be on everyone’s mind as September fast approaches, but as I am writing this, summer is barely half-way finished.

I decided on the topic some time ago, but every time I sat down to write it and contemplated my chosen topic, that muscle in my back that is right next to my left shoulder blade would start to tighten – it has already made itself into a nice little ball – and I’d decide to go weed my garden instead.

Of course, it didn’t occur to me to come up with a different topic. I just sailed down the river of denial until I suddenly realized that my deadline had come and gone, so now I’m writing on that topic, with the muscle in my back growing ever tighter.

I love summer. I love my garden, and the warmth (relative as it has been this summer), and s’mores, and no homework, school lunches, notes to teachers or homework. And did I mention the homework?

I hate the reminding, nagging and helping that goes along with homework. I hate when something goes wrong and my kid wails about how the teacher is going to yell at him or her. I hate my homework – sending in field trip money or toilet paper tubes or family photographs. And I hate realizing half way through the day that I’ve forgotten it again and hoping my son isn’t the only one whose mom forgot (this only happens to my son because my daughter is organized and reminds me of all these things, but my son is a disorganized disaster like his mom and between the two of us, it is hopeless).

I love the relaxation of the rules that comes with summer. Bedtimes are more casual, piano practicing is optional and reading is for fun.

Perhaps instead of calling the topic ‘back to school,’ I should call it ‘ode to summer.’ There, that’s better.

Every summer, we start out by going up to my in-laws’ cottage, which we refer to as going ‘up north.’ For the past two years, we’ve brought two of my nephews up as well. Good friends have the cottage across the road, so this summer we had a gang of six children between the ages of nine and 12, and three six-year-olds on top of that.

The children play at the beach, climb in the tree house, organize large games of poker, stay up late and fill in mad-libs games with swear words, laughing hysterically over their wit.

I love this time because this is when their childhoods most closely resemble how I remember mine (with the exception of the poker games) – relatively free of parental oversight.

Being relatively free of parental oversight then quickly moves into almost total anarchy for the next phase of summer: sleep-away camp. This was my son’s first year and he arrived back home grungy, tanned and full of happy stories. I was worried that the youngest would drive me crazy without her siblings to amuse her, but she reveled in it, repeating several times a day, “I LOVE being an only child.”

In another week, the eldest will be back and we will enter the final stage of summer, one I like to call “Camp Mom,” where I take the kids to museums and the water parks and then there’s the ever-fun school supply shopping. I like to save this until the end of summer for because after a couple of weeks of solid togetherness, with Dad only riding to the rescue in the evenings, school starts to look more appealing, both for the (“I’m booooorrrred”) children and me.

So I guess I love summer not only because I can let my children forage for their own lunches and stay up late watching old movies with me, but because by the end of it, I’ve managed to develop an appreciation for school again. I’ll never like the homework or making school lunches no one eats. But at least it takes all my kids away every day and gives them something to do while I get some peace and quiet.

Perhaps I should have called this topic ‘ode to my laziness.’ Whatever. At least my back doesn’t hurt so much now.

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So Boo was still in daycamp this week, even though Asher was already home. It was pottery camp. She was very keen on it. I kind of figured that was a third child thing – happily going off to camp – but I had dinner with a friend who told me her third hates going to camp. He’s shy. So I guess it is just Boo being Boo.

I tried to talk Asher into a week of daycamp, since all his friends are gone to camps and I was afraid he’d be bored, but he adamantly refused, telling me that after the experience of sleep-away camp, day camp wouldn’t cut it. I wasn’t too worried, though, because he’s pretty good at amusing himself and we’ve always been able to just hang out.

We rented the Indiana Jones series and have been blobbing out in front of the TV. Actually, he’s been blobbing out; I was organizing the kids’ toys and folding laundry. I am incapable of just watching TV. I must normally also do one of the following: fold laundry, knit, write in my jounal (not good for very action-oriented shows), polish soapstone or brush the dog.

He’s also into cooking and has gotten some good play time in with his cousins, who are also not in camp.

I have several friends who have only boys and who wished for a girl. I wanted a girl too, when I was first pregnant. I can’t even quite remember why, but I think it had something to do with wanting someone like me. I don’t know why I thought gender would be the determining factor in producing that someone, especially as I am not that girly.

So of course, the one child most like me is Asher, who likes futzing around and science and gardening and action movies. For example, I told him we were going out soon to run a couple errands, something he’s excited about because he has a plan to buy bubble gum. But I wasn’t ready to go right away. I want to finish this, get dressed, eat something. His darling sisters would have nagged me to death by now under the same circumstances. He’s found an old balloon-animal balloon and has figured out how to blow it back up despite the big hole in it.

I love showing him movies I loved as a kid, like the Indiana Jones series. I wonder if he’s ready for Aliens, or if that’d just mean he’ll never sleep again.

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Well, I’m sure there’s nothing like a 3-week break to chase away all my readers, but I really didn’t have much of an option. The cottage had the slowest dial-up in the history of the internet. Generally speaking, this is probably a good thing. I had a technology vacation.

We went up to the cottage with our kids and two of my nephews, who are 10 and 12-years-old. This meant everything we did, we did with five kids instead of three and I have to say, I didn’t really notice a huge difference, except for the food thing. Man, can those kids eat.

For the last week, J’s cousins moved in next door, turning our 5-child posse into an 8-child posse. Meals were epic. Oh, and I can’t forget the friends across the road, whose 9-year-old spent most of her time at our house. That was okay. They also have 6-year-old twin boys who followed Boo around like puppies, but she spent most of her time at their cottage, evening things out.

During nice weather, all of use could be found at the beach, and since we have a much broader definition of nice weather than normal we frequently had the beach to ourselves. Basically, it had to be not raining. Although truthfully, we often stayed when it rained too, as long as it wasn’t heavy, simply denying that rain was coming down.

We did do other things. One day, everyone went on this cool obstacle course that snakes down the mountain. It takes several hours. I do not do this. I did take Boo and her boyfriends (she hates when we refer to them as that) to the littler kid version.

I brought my soapstone paraphernalia and had all the kids working on small soapstone pieces on the beach. It is soft stone and can be worked with files, so kids can do it with a minimum of injuries. Only my older nephew, A, showed any real affinity for it. The rest behaved as though I was the ultimate judge and would return frequently to me to ask, “Did I file this enough already?” I’d point out that while the piece was looking more whale-like, or bunny-like, they still had to file this part and that if they really wanted it to look as they said they did. Once cousin pestered me so much that once A, who was happily doing his own thing, snapped, “It is filed enough when you think it is filed enough! Why do you keep bugging her?”

So the truth was, except for A, I pretty much shaped every piece, but they did most of the sanding to make their carvings smooth and were very happy with the results.

Here are Asher and Maya, working hard at theirs:

Another day, someone brought water colour paints down to the beach and we all had a lovely time painting each other.

I also created an enormous scavenger hunt that amused the kids for hours before they discovered the treasure – a pile of golden chocolate coins.

In the evenings, we frequently played huge games of Texas hold ‘em poker. The kids are starting to become good players. My FIL was appalled that we were teaching them all how to gamble, but I’m hoping they’ll become sharks and put themselves through university.

Now I have 2 days to get Asher and Maya ready for sleep-over camp. They leave Wednesday morning, my birthday.

Here are some bonus pictures. This is what I found when I came in to go to bed one evening:

The diving board broke on the raft that is normally swimming distance from the beach, so J towed it in and a couple of the manly men fixed it. Then the kids had fun pushing it back out again.

The necessary Jasper shot:

And finally, a shot of the nape of my boy’s neck. I sat and took about 20 of these one afternoon because I think he has the most adorable, delectable nape ever. I thought this was my particular mother quirk until one of J’s cousins commented on it too, unsolicited. So now I’m sharing it with everyone.

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