Here's how the Summer typically goes for us...the kids don't get released from bondage--um, "school"--until mid-June. The rest of that particular month whizzes past, since the boys always do their South Carolina visit at the beginning of the time-off period. After that brief whirlwind of activity, we settle into the long, hot month of July. We pass the days with pool jaunts, and camp weeks, and outdoor hiking and biking, when not prohibited by the double-whammy of high temperatures and soaking humidity. Usually we take our mini-getaway sometime during July as well, to give us something to enjoy while continuing to wait for our Big Vacation. Then comes August, which carries its own...unique vibe. On the one hand, you can clearly see (although still be in abject denial about) the rapidly approaching, impending Fall and beginning of the new academic year. (Excuse me one second: aaaaaahhhhhh! That's just from me; trust me when I say the children feel much more strongly about it...) Heck, we've even stocked the backpacks full of required supplies already, just to beat the last-minute crazed rush and get it out of the way. However, on the other (preferred) hand, we still have our reeeeaaaal trip on the horizon, you know, the one we've been (mostly patiently) anticipating since I first booked it...back in January. (You can tell I'm just a wee bit excited by the fact that I've packed as much as possible already, even if it means digging things out of the luggage to use them for this week. Okay, I’m both hyped up…and compulsively organized to the point of inconvenience…sigh…I need the beach…)
But the tone of things has definitely changed a smidgen around here recently, as the novelty of "constant togetherness" wears thin, combined with the fact that we're all sooooo over the stupid Heat Index and sweating and figuring out ways to stay entertained all day long. Yes, we've reached that very special point in the Summer when conversation first thing in the morning can begin like this:
Riley: "Derek, can I come in your room?"
Derek (sharply): "No!"
Riley (plaintively): "Why not?"
Derek (unhelpfully): "Because I don't want you to!"
Riley (dramatically): "Then I guess I can't come in your room ever again, right?"
Mom (gnashing her teeth and pulling her hair in frustration): “Congratulations, you have earned the privilege of accompanying me to Target!”
Boys (horrified): “Whyyyyy?”
Mom (unsympathetically): “To deprive you of the continued opportunity to bicker with each other for the rest of the morning.
You can tell that thoughts of school have crept into Derek's mind, though--however unwelcome they may be. Out of the blue one day he asked, "If I get straight-As, will you get me a present?" I was ready with the pre-packaged response from the Parental Manual, which was something along the lines of "We don't reward you for good grades because they're expected." For added measure (and because, let's face it, I couldn't help myself) I tacked on, "You should WANT to do well, not just try hard to get a prize." He gave a somewhat disappointed, "Oh", then brightened considerably as he mused, "Well, then, I could get Bs, right? Even a low-B, what's the difference, it looks the same on my Report Card.” He triumphantly concluded, “I could start working a lot less and still do okay!" Now hold on just one minute, there, son--I quickly jumped in to repair the damage and prevent any further wandering down this dangerous path..."We expect you to try your BEST. If that's a B, fine, but there will be no 'squeaking by' with the bare minimum effort!" He sobered up again and inquired, "What if a C- is the best I can do?" I was way ahead of him this time: "Then you will forego video games and have extra tutoring until that grade comes up!" If that's not motivation, I don't know my pre-teen son...might be an interesting 7th grade experience coming up...
And finally, as our Mexico excursion draws ever nearer, I’m happy to report that we're all getting in the spirit. When I came down to breakfast this morning (before my coffee--don't they know better yet?) Derek greeted me with, "We're practicing Spanish!" He held out a Fruit Loop on his spoon and exclaimed, "Ay, caramba, it's rojo!" (You have no idea how pleased and proud of himself he looked. What's the Spanish word for big honking goofball?) Riley chimed in with "Azul! Gracias! Si!" Their vocabulary might be extremely limited and next-to-useless, but you can't fault them for their enthusiasm. Maybe we can fit in some language lessons this week before we go...both to keep them ocupados...and to promote paz among the hermanos until we can get ourselves to the playa...