Susan Vollenweider -- Four people, four fantasy plans and one summer break

05/30/2013 7:57 PM

05/30/2013 7:57 PM

“I’m being good, right, Mom?” His big green eyes stared up at me. It was before noon on day one and those eyes still wielded heartstring-tugging power. Given his actions since breakfast, I silently predicted that he would lose this superpower by day three.

“Yes, Noah, you are being good-ish. But you need to find something to do quietly and stop interrupting me.”

The quiet activity that he chose involved covering the kitchen table with craft paper and mentally fretting about the stains that might result. The next quiet activity required me to install computer software and give a tutorial.

As I finally got back to work, Luke stared into an open fridge for the hundred-bajillionth time that day and Bekah wondered when I was going to the library next.

They may have been audibly quiet, but my brain was screaming, “This has long summer written all over it!”

It hadn’t even been 24 hours since I greeted the kids at the front door when they came home from their last day of school.

What I said: “Summer break starts right now!”

What they heard: “Smiles everyone, smiles! Welcome to Fantasy Island.”

I get it — a couple months of non-school-structured days lay before them. Powered by their own imaginations, interests and several years’ worth of Nickelodeon and Disney shows, they were brimming with grand plans. The first few hours were quite telling:

Bekah started posting recipes to social media and reserving library books.

Luke started programming shows into the DVR, messing with the Netflix queue and lining up hand weights in the living room.

Noah turned the hose on himself.

And I got a headache.

This summer we have real plans to blend with their fantasies. The calendar is weighted heavily with Luke’s sports: baseball, summer league basketball and conditioning, camps and practices for high school football.

Bekah is getting community service hours by volunteering at summer school in June, has a church youth group trip in July, band camp, a lofty reading goal and, it seems, a desire to bake her way through Pinterest.

Noah has … has … nothing. The semi-self-sufficient teens are busy and the kid who requires some sort of supervision has two short sports camps and lots of wide open days.

But, good news! He’s really excited to spend those summer days with me.

Parents who work outside the home have a place or a person ready so that the school year schedule flows seamlessly into the summer schedule. A lot of work-at-home parents kicked some serious heinie getting kid camps and care lined up months ago so that their work time wouldn’t be tampered with.

I’m neither of those.

I’m the part-time, home-working parent who is navigating toward her own professional dream while simultaneously spending the next two and a half months shuttling, shuffling and shhhhushing her three kids.

I suppose I am guilty of imagining a Fantasy Island summer, too. My fantasy involves getting daily work done, the housework kept up and all of us happily partaking in our summer traditions: spontaneous ice cream joint jaunts, gardening together, day trips to Powell Gardens, Deanna Rose, the Nelson-Atkins, Worlds of Fun, and Smithville Lake. Fireflies, butterflies, hummingbirds and hours creating a breeze on a porch rocker.

But how do sports camps, daily practices, conditioning sessions, volunteer hours and teenage friendships fit into my fantasy?

They might not. My vision for this summer gets fuzzy when I try to combine our reality with my fantasy.

Noah’s superpower might come from his eyes, but mine comes from being a parent for 11 summer breaks.

I hope I’m good enough.


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