At the first grade picnic last week, the kids were joyful; ecstatic. There was baseball, tug-of-war (boys against the girls), a playground, bubbles, snacks, and no more school. There was a long summer of fun ahead of them.
At the first grade picnic last week, the moms were pale; worried. “Inside, I’m weeping,” said one mom, “all this school craziness is easier than having all of them home together all summer.” A friend confided that she and a friend go out for a cocktail after drop-off on the first day of school each year, to celebrate the end of summer and a return to sanity.
It’s not that we don’t all love summer. This season is certainly more traditional here in Chicago than it was in San Francisco: warm, sunny days, Popsicles, staying up late in a friend’s backyard with fireflies flashing and darting around us, a lake to swim in every day. But after only a few days, I know what they mean.
This summer, now that Lyle is really old enough to be in the mix with Baxter – a real kid, not a toddler anymore – there are certainly a lot of laughs, but there is a LOT more fighting. All. the. time.
“Mommy, tell Lyle to stop sitting on my head! Oooowwwww, Lyle, STOP IT!!”
“Baxter, you can’t do that! Don’t punch me, that’s too rough!!”
“I can read this book – it’s mine! Mommy, tell Lyle I can read my own Pokemon book! Ly-le! Get. off. of. me!!”
The thing is, in between the screaming (and I do mean screaming), there is raucous laughter. Nonsense talk. Incessant giggles over new found phrases like, “Who just cut the cheese?!” which gets repeated (of course) by one’s little brother, often slightly incorrectly, making it that much funnier. Little puppy dogs wrestling on the floor. Reading together.
But, oh, the fighting. It’s enough to make me start screaming myself.
I am so grateful that Baxter will be in day camp at the YMCA for 6 week-long sessions throughout the summer, and especially happy that this will start next week. I said as much to our babysitter on Monday morning, hoping it was some consolation when the boys were literally bouncing off the walls at 8 AM and needed to be taken to a playground that second before the house imploded.
“But Lyle will really miss him,” she said sadly. And I know she’s right. It’s just that I personally will revel in the return to quiet in this house during those weeks when I’m back to having just one child in the house most of the time.