As the last few days of July slowly melt away, (like ice cream dripping down the side of a sugar cone...ooh, don't get distracted...where was I?) Team WestEnders has arrived at that magical point in the Summer...when the teenager starts each morning by asking the all-important, schedule-defining question: "What day is it?" Maybe it's related to the Big Move, or perhaps it has more to do with having two adolescent boys in the house, but this year more than ever before, the previously unimpeachable Family Rules have kind of gone out the window since school ended.
I mean, for the first time ever, neither kid has a Math or Language Arts packet to complete...so I've kind of forgotten to check whether they're actually, you know, reading at all...or not. And I haven't been diligent about monitoring their screen time, either. As long as they're hitting "pause" to go outside every couple of hours, that's good enough, right? (And watching reruns of Castle or Leverage in the evening with me constitutes quality bonding time...so that definitely doesn't count...she says defiantly...yet guiltily...)
Speaking of which, at least I'm glad--mostly thanks to Riley, the organized planner who seems to take after me--that they've gotten themselves into a kind of routine. At the breakfast table, Riley will ask his brother what he wants to do for the day...and when. Based on Derek's answers, he'll formulate an agenda that usually goes something like this: "Okay, after our food settles, we'll pack up our baseball gear, ride our bikes to McDougle (Riley's Middle School, across the street), and work on hitting and pitching for a while. Then we'll come back for lunch and video games. Afterwards we'll have a snack and play basketball." Meanwhile, Derek generally just shakes his head sleepily, and agreeably goes along with the whole thing.
Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled that they're mostly entertaining themselves. After all, this is the very first time I haven't arranged two weeks of camp for each of them, to help break up the long, unstructured vacation. And, of course, we skipped a family getaway this year, in lieu of, you know, transplanting ourselves and all of our stuff to another state. We figured that--and exploring our new environment--would provide adventure enough for 2014. So, bedtimes have been pushed later (generally when I decide they've been up quite long enough, thank you very much...and order them to turn in)...which of course means the wake-up-hour shifts as well. And meals? Eh, they sort of happen...whenever. (One giant perk of the almost-11 and 14-year olds: they pretty much arrange their breakfast and lunch without any help...or even presence...from me. And they refuse to eat anywhere except the screened-in porch. Thus, often I'll wander into the kitchen in search of sustenance, to find that they've already concocted their own well-balanced meal and have availed themselves of the outdoor seating arrangement...yaaayyyy for independence! Next step is clearly to train them to prepare mine, while they're at it...)
Another thing that's been great is that, since we now live in a neighborhood with lots of shady, winding, hilly roads, and very little traffic, the brothers have been heading out on frequent 2-wheeled expeditions. They're learning the layout and how everything meshes together...while also remembering to focus and stay On Mission (that is: to keep an eye out for similar-aged kids). Likely candidates have been spotted pedaling rapidly past our house, but thus far have proved elusive to actually catch, as they tend to disappear into the maze of cross streets before the boys can don helmets, jump on their bikes, and give chase. (In a "let's make friends" kind of way, totally not "creepy neighborhood stalkers"...I hope...)
Oh, and how could I forget? They've recently strapped on their shinguards and cleats to practice soccer, given that each of them faces a looming "tryout situation" on the horizon. For Riley, it was actually just a matter of showing up at the designated field, engaging in an hour or so of informal scrimmaging with kids his age, and thereby demonstrating for the League Director that he has the skills to play at this level. Now we just wait to hear what team he's been assigned, and where/when they practice. Derek, on the other hand, will be trying out for his High School team. This involves--as far as I can tell from the not-very-informative website--TWICE daily sessions for 3 consecutive days...including one slot from...7:30 to 9:30...a.m. Holy Teenage Nightmare, Batman! That's freakin' early to drag yourself out of bed in the Summer...actually wake up enough to function (without coffee, mind you...seems impossible to me...glad I don't have to do it)...and then run around...doing coordinated...stuff...with a ball...all in a graceful, "look at me, I'm a good player, pick me for the team" fashion. Yikes! I do NOT envy those kids...
So, with just over 3 weeks left until it's back to the old grindstone, the brothers are enjoying extensive athletic, electronic...gastronomic...togetherness. However, since they seem to be happily occupied most of the time, I reaaallly should make more of a concerted effort to get some important things done...such as...wait, what day is it? Oh well, there's always tomorrow...hey, maybe I should go try to order some lunch from the kids...you think that'll be enough accomplished for...Wednesday?