Tag Archives: summer break

Unparenting

“I’m sick of parenting,” I caught myself thinking. “Can’t I just ignore them for a while?”

And then the irony struck me. We spend a lot of time harking back to our childhoods (at least, assuming they were good), trying to emulate them for our children, whining about how we didn’t have Playstations and Kindles and 24-hour iCarly TV stations, and we just had to be outside in all weathers, getting rained on or sunburnt (pick your continent), making our own fun. And it was good for us, and we liked it.

But our parents didn’t parent. They just were. It wasn’t a verb. So on the one hand we’re all congratulating ourselves on knowing so much more about child development nowadays, and on caring so much more about what our children are doing that may or may not be helping their braincells grow larger and their psyches be unscathed so that in the future their therapists will say “Well, I can’t blame the parents;” and on the other we’re wanting them to have the sort of childhood we had before any of that was a concern to anyone.

Our parents’ concerns were that we went to school when it was school time and stayed out of their hair when it wasn’t. I may be missing a few nuances, but that was mostly it, right? They fed us and clothed us and then they stayed out of our way and we stayed out of theirs, and everyone was fine. More than fine: I’d say we learned a lot more on our own and with our friends than we did when we were under strictly supervised conditions. Not all of it pleasant, perhaps, but if you’re constantly on hand to save your children from the unpleasant, they’re not going to turn into very robust or resilient adults.

Maybe I’ll start unparenting. It could be the new thing.

 

A pet day

Today was what my mother would call a pet day. It was just right. It was the sort of day you wish summers were full of; that in your imagination and in your memory, summers are full of. It was easy.

The sticky-hot and humid weather of the past few days has broken and suburban Maryland awoke to a scrubbed-clean blue sky and blissfully fresh air. I was so overcome by the beauty of it all that I agreed to mid-week pancakes and Mabel was nearly late for camp. Happy children and sticky floors resulted, and a rush to get dressed, but we managed.

I dropped her off and came back to give the kitchen floor a quick once-over with the steam mop. B went to work and Dash and I set out on our errands. (Mabel is doing camp for two weeks – and loving it more than I could have believed possible – and Dash is at Camp Mom, which is not as bad as it may sound.) We dropped off paperwork in a couple of places, printed up some flyers, and lunched in McD’s in between.

The battles over Dash’s daily reading have abated a lot since his new school said that listening to an audiobook and following along with the text counts as your twenty minutes of work. He still has to be gently shepherded to the table, and gently provided with glasses and headphones and Kindle and timer, but he no longer resists it with every fibre of his being the way he used to. It’s easier when Mabel’s out of the house, too, and there’s nothing else interesting going on. He also has a math packet and a grammar packet to do for the new school, because I suppose they need to see where everyone is when they come in, and once he gets into it he quite likes doing that.

After that it was back-to-back playdates. Two eight-year-olds for the nine-year-old: they battled Beyblades and played Trivial Pursuit and wrestled, and it was almost peaceful. Then I picked up the six-year-old and a friend, and the girls played “My baby has an allergy” for three hours straight, and it was just delightful. (I removed the potentially irritating big brother from the equation by letting him listen to the Watership Down audiobook without making him follow the text. I think I’ve finally found a way for him to entertain himself quietly.)

Meanwhile, I employed myself colouring in one of the flyers we’d printed. They don’t need to be coloured in, but I decided it would look more eye-catching. So I took out the box of coloured pencils I bought myself last Christmas and I coloured all afternoon. I offered the kids a turn, but they didn’t want to (though Dash offered advice on colour combinations). I feel chock full of mindfulness now.Photo on 7-23-15 at 2.19 PM

The day’s not over, of course. Bedtime could still ruin everything. For the past few evenings, Mabel has seemed to need an overtired screaming breakdown before she could finally get to sleep, so there’s that gauntlet still to run. We’re only back a week, I remind myself; she’s still recovering.

But as days go, it was the sort I’d like more of.