I’m exhausted. We are cramming an entire summer of fun into the month of July because our daughter has surgery scheduled for August 1st. In this part of the country, school lets out toward the end of June– closer to the end if we’ve had more snow days, closer to the middle if the winter was relatively mild. So we’ve only had about four weeks of summer vacation so far, and after this week there’s only one week left in July. After July, there will be no swimming, no Slip-n-Slide, no biking, no rolling around in the grass (well, we try to discourage that anyway because of the ticks and Lyme disease, but it’s hard to keep kids from doing kid things). August will be a quiet month– full of recuperation and board games, art classes, and pedicures.
So far this summer, we have been to the beach and the town pool, learned to ride a bike without training wheels, picked wild berries,run through sprinklers, slid on the Slip-n-Slide until the grass at the end turns brown with mud, visited family at the lake, lit sparklers, sold lemonade, watched fireworks, eaten S’mores, had several “grill-outs” (her term for when Dad cooks on the grill), and we've seen Maleficent.
On our bucket list for the rest of the month is a birthday celebration including mini-golf, cake, ice cream and a sleepover as well as more trips to the pool and logging as many miles as possible on a shiny new bike – green, not pink– more suitable for a girl who is going to be “double-digits” as she keeps telling anyone who asks how old she is. Meanwhile, life does go on, work has to get done, certain appointments are still required, and the local day-camp fills the gap so Mom and Dad can be somewhat productive.
The key is flexibility. The other day, we had a tight schedule– pick-up from camp at 3:15, straight to an appointment 30 minutes away, stop at McDonald’s for a Happy Meal and then home so I could get to a meeting. When I got to the school for pick-up, she was in the classroom wearing just her swimsuit.
“Where are your clothes? We have to go!”
“They are wet.”
“They got wet.”
“How? We have to go!”
“We were playing with water balloons and someone threw one at me and I got soaked.”
“Ok, let’s go, you’ll have to go like that.”
“What? I’m wet! I’m cold!”
“Well, we don’t have time to go home. We have to go.”
Luckily, traffic was light and there was a store on the way so we were able to buy a t-shirt and shorts on sale; so she didn’t have to go to the appointment in her wet swimsuit. My Plan B was to let her wear my long-sleeved shirt, which would have kept her warm. But I wonder, should I have gone home for a change of clothes and been late to the appointment? Or was I teaching her responsibility by letting her face the logical consequences of playing with water balloons in her clothes?
It seems every day is filled with small (or big) choices like this, and I often hind-sight my choices and try to learn from each event so that next time, I have thought through the possible paths and outcomes. If only life were as logical as mathematics: 1+1 always equals 2, but the parenting choice that works one day doesn’t always work the next. Sometimes a firm approach is the best: "No, you can’t have chocolate after dinner, you’ll never get to sleep.” And other times, it makes sense to be flexible: Yes, you’re cold, let’s stop and get you some dry clothes.
By the end of this month, we’ll all be worn out. But, we will also have made lots of new memories that will sustain us through the quiet recuperation of August. Friends and family will visit and play board games, the cats will keep us company as we sit quietly on the porch, and the shiny green bike will be waiting for its rider to be ready to ride again.
By Liz Smith. Liz has worked across the globe for many of the world's best known apparel brands, including Justice, Chico's, Victoria's Secret, and Hanes. She has worked closely with dozens of factories in more than 20 countries to ensure that production is of the highest standard. Liz has managed all aspects of garment production, from design through fabric development to sewing and merchandising - so she knows what it takes to make high-quality apparel. Liz is thrilled to share her knowledge about clothes to help discerning customers choose the finest products.