Summer is half way over and I am astonished at the number of people I meet (when I spring lose out of my cage occasionally) that look at me and say “I bet you can hardly wait until they are all back in school!” This statement is hilarious given that it is usually delivered to me by another mom of two (maximum three) children and often after I have witnessed this parent’s exasperation at the antics of their offspring in public. I am often incognito. Shopping or running errands with just a nominal few from my tribe. I appear in the grocery store as someone who can be trusted as I almost pass for “normal” by society’s standards by having only 2 or three kids with me.
I am afraid that my answer to this question is the one that reveals my true identity as a keeper of a large number of kids. I always answer “No…not really… I like having my children around and miss them when they are in school!” At this point the interviewing parent tilts their head while looking me over head to toe (likely in hopes of spotting ALIEN skin or other extraterrestrial attributes). After checking me out they say “Really?… No one has ever told me THAT before. It must be that you have a lot of help from your husband and family and you never have to spend much time cooped up with kids and no help.” (!!)
By this stage it is all I can do to maintain a straight face. This entire summer I have been with 9 kids or more…(counting a grandchild and “other” children coming over to play) all by myself as my husband had surgery in another city and has had to recuperate there to avail himself of the post-surgery physiotherapy care in that location. Yes… “cooped up” might be a way to describe it…although not mine.
Big marketing bucks are spent by retailers every fall hyping up the back to school season. One office / school supply store (national chain) is famous for their rendition of a Christmas carol played in late August/September recognizing the joy with which parents shop for back to school using the tune “It is the most wonderful time of the year….” (A time it is assumed parents eagerly await more than children wait for Christmas.)
In my attempts (although feeble) to fit in with mainstream society I thought I would answer in the affirmative the next time this question came up. Well that went well. I told this woman I could NOT WAIT until the “rug rats” where back in school. She looked at my three and said she could understand as she only had one and did not know how I managed the three little ones I had with me that day. I could not keep the deceit up any longer so with a broad grin I said “no…the ones I wanted back in school were the “other six” I left at home.” Yep back to looking like an Alien again. Total shock is immediately registered on the “other” parent’s face.
But seriously, I do admit there are challenging times and moments here and there where I do think about what it was like when everyone had a place to be (school) but on the whole I like my kids and I like being around them. I am bold enough to tell people exactly how it is. I like that summer lets bedtimes be relaxed, that more time is spent on creative relaxation (with the exception of a few teenagers with employment commitments) and that there is no homework. I also love that playing outside (like when I was little), making friends and playing with each other are rediscovered. I like getting reacquainted with my kids in their more relaxed state. Not racing to complete homework, stay late for choir, gym practice or other extracurricular activities. I love watching them play the kind of games they invent (especially our crowd as the numbers often outweigh the equipment available at any one time) and the dynamics as they unfold between all of them.
Fall comes all too fast and with it the hurried life of school schedules, homework, extracurricular activities and I close the book on the pages of another summer’s carefree playing and imagination I do so with some sadness. Sometimes I look back and think I learned the most about who my children truly are during the summer months. Don’t get me wrong it is all not a bed of roses and I have some scars to prove it. I am often cleaning the house with a blowtorch and power-sander (and that is just bath time!).
I profoundly miss them once they return to school. Things I have learned is the children get along much better when no parent is watching. When push comes to shove they do care about each other (regardless of the atrocious insults they have been known to hurl at each other), and no activity or equipment can match the creative solutions and games this bunch will come up with on their own. By far the best expenditure this summer was $20 to purchase 5 sets of second-hand roller blades. Hockey is being played as are races. The older more accomplished kids have set themselves up as the “skating coaches” for the younger kids. When my kids show up back in school, while they may not boast about what fun they had on a cruise or family vacation I do know that this summer will go down as one of the most fun…with each other.
So,YES…I will miss my kids when they return to school, and NO, I am not looking forward to the fall. As for “most wonderful time of the year” that would be now…when everyone is home!
The ALIEN Garden Goat
EXCITING NEWS! The Garden Goat has been nominated for a contest featuring top 25 blogs written by moms of large families. You can vote for me EVERYDAY (until Aug 1) at: http://www.circleofmoms.com/top25/Top-25-Moms-With-Big-Families-2012#_