My kid was not up for 30 seconds the other day before starting a crying jag worthy of Scarlett O'Hara - all about bickering with her sister over (heaven help me, please) a newly ebay-purchased Barbie house and something about stealing existing Barbie furniture . . . because, hey, in this house, everyone has to have their OWN Barbie house and OWN Barbie furniture, lest we be forced to contact the authorities due to a civil war about to erupt.
You know, we parents have done the vacations, movies, crafts, play dates, library, and the hauling everyone around all summer long in our valiant effort to entertain and make the most of this fabulous time off from school. And while I completely dread getting back into the swing of school (after all, it means diving right back in to forms, field trips, homework, lunches, before school practices, after school practices, and all the eight million little things to keep up with), there is this tiny (okay, moderate to large) part of me that can't wait to let the "entertaining" be choreographed by someone else. Don't get me wrong - I love my kids, and I'm honestly not completely happy unless all my little duckies are safe and sound and huddled together in our family unit. But I'm not much on long term fun, being that I'm not exactly Captain Fun to begin with.
My friend Amy, however, IS Captain Fun, and texted me a few days before school started to haul our butts 45 minutes out to Fort Worth Texas for a trip to the Zoo. "One last summer hoorah!" as she put it. And who could fault the woman for wanting to take her only non-committed day off to buzz around the state for the sake of her children having a good time? I mean, she just got off a 17 day vacation of hiking through Colorado and New Mexico. I don't think that's enough to wear anyone out at all.
So I wallow in Catholic guilt as I cancel my volunteer job for the day, and load everyone up for a day of fun with Amy and her kids . . . which ends up being zoo, water gardens, two museums, a quick tour through the Stock Yards, and a foray to Joe T. Garcia's for dinner. It was Fort Worth a-la-Amy, who was horrified at my lack of clocked adventure hours into the unknown territory of that endlessly fabulous city. She felt like she had to get in as much "you have to see this" as possible so my brain wouldn't rot away from lack of stimulus in the next nine months. My feet were about to fall right off my ankles by dinner time, but oh my gosh, that restaurant was the most fun place E-VER. Since we were so hot, gross, and dehydrated from being in suffocating heat all day, Amy and I kicked back with ice cold drinks while our five apparently not-tired, not dehydrated, don't-care-if-we're-filthy kids literally ran through what must have been three acres of totally enclosed outside patio filled with tables, gardens, out-buildings, fountains, bars (they didn't tromp through the patio bars, thank heaven. I can just see a shower of lime wedges pelting staff and patrons . . . ) several visits to the way-cool bathroom, and even a get-to-know-you session with the pet doves (don't ask; I have no idea why they keep birds on site).
But as much fun as we had, as a mommy, there is always, always a price to pay. Mine included having to dive right in to aggressive negotiations (sans the light sabers) the morning after and distracting the exhausted kiddies with a heavy-handed list of chores.
Which brings me to my point. This summer has been stressful for us; we've had a big move, we were displaced in our living situation for several months, and had quite a bit of uncertainty regarding course of life and where-in-the-hell-are-we-going-to-live talks. We did our best to keep things stable for the kids, but the stress of the instability still came out, mainly in the bickering of two of my kids, and a slight depression in the third.
My dear people, we MUST keep a stable environment for our kids, and we must learn not to over tax them with "fun." Yes, it's great to see the sights and experience life, but can I just say how many strollers, high heels (Are. You. Kidding.), and VERY pregnant women I saw tromping through the zoo towing kids that were much to young to remember anything at all, much less have any fun in this insane Texas heat? (For the uninitiated, think "so hot the oxygen is sucked right out of the air to the point where you can't breathe," and you're in the ballpark.) Why?? Why on earth do we drag young kiddies to do these things, exhausting their poor bodies and wearing them out so they're forced to act like monkeys because we're too hell-bent on the entertainment??? They don't need that stimulus! They won't remember the baby elephant, the frozen lemonade, or the coolest snake on the planet.
I know it's boring for you, but the younger tikes can do without the heavy field trips. Mine are plenty old enough to tolerate the busy day, yet they still had morning after issues due to exhaustion. If you must get out, pace yourself, respect any naptimes, and make it a quick outing. I understand that being cooped up with out-of-school kids all day long for months on end is a stinker for those who are any less than Über moms. And I don't know about you, but I am not about to lie my tush off and claim to be a super hero in the mommy department. Some of you are, and more power to you. But most of us aren't, so please allow the whining and grappling for entertainment ideas. We'll be back to faking it well once the little angels return to school and we've had time to restock our fridge and pantry, clean up the sea of toys on the living room floor, get a decent haircut, and take a nap. Until then, it's all about frazzle.