Summer Break

My attitude shifts when, after months of cold and darkness, the sun finally decides to hang out with us a little longer.  Flowers join the party.  Neighbors come out of hibernation.  Birds serenade you as you roll out of bed in the morning.  Ahh, summer.

We are getting our first experience of summer break for Maria who is in between Kindergarten and 1st Grade.  Maria is going to school two days a week through Kids’ Club where she gets to hang out with friends and go swimming one day and on a field trip the other.  Mario is only going to daycare two days a week (versus 5) so it is like a summer vacation for him, too.  Our sitter, Megan, stays with them 4 days a week (one kid only two days a week and both the two other days).  This is the end of our first week with Megan and with the new school schedule. 

When I dropped Maria off on Monday morning, she clung to me like she had on her first day of daycare and Kindergarten.  I introduced her to other girls but nothing helped.  I read her a book and played a game with her when finally the teachers announced that the kids needed to line up to go outside.  A tall girl, Elly, saw Maria having a hard time and said “I will play with you outside, Maria.”  Maria looked up at her with a tiny smile.  I reassured her that the day would be fun, and she slowly loosened her grip on my hand and let me depart without massively wailing at the door.  Throughout my day, I got concerned about Maria’s clinginess and strong need to have me by her side.  This is a constant struggle for me – I need to let them do more on their own so they won’t be so distressed when I leave.  I guess there are worse things I could have done to her as a baby, like beat her or not change her diaper.

By the time I picked Maria up at 4 (yes, I left work early), she was in a great mood talking about how awesome the day had been.  There is a higher being when you need one.  My day had been ridiculously stressful so if she would have been wailing when I arrived, I would have called it quits at work and stayed home with her until she was 18.  Luckily, for both of our sanities, that did not occur. 

On our walk to swim lessons, she boasted about walking to and from the pool with her class.  She also got to play with her favorite lifeguard and swim teacher, Nick. He made a train with all of the kids on his back.  Pure heaven she tells me (embarrassingly and with a promise not to tell dad!).  She went to Olentangy Indian Caverns on Tuesday on a real live bus (every once in a while I would look up from my work and think about her on that bus and pray that everything was ok – neurotic, I can be) and got to go on a tour and collect rocks (our favorite activity).  

Mario was typical Mario at daycare drop-off.  He complained about going to school, was grouchy as hell when we took him in (teachers coo over him and say hello and he sticks out his tongue or lifts up his chin and ignores them all); and got annoyed with his friends when he first saw them.  nevertheless, by the time we picked him up, he was talking about how Ben did this and Sophia did that….  He showed us the books he read and the activities he did and raced us down the halls.  Again, thank god for that welcome back.    

The first day with Megan was trying for all.  Maria had a meltdown because Megan asked her to read and asked her to clean her room.  When asked to read, she did her Maria self-defense move and cried about being too tired and not feeling good.  Megan picked up on it when she asked Maria to clean her room later and Maria had the exact same excuses after she had been playing just fine for an hour earlier.  Megan is no dummy.  Maria screamed and cried and basically went ballistic to the point that Megan texted me and told me she did not know what else to do.  My face immediately lit up upon receiving the text and when I got home, Maria and I had a long talk.  Since that day, she has been much better (then again, I don’t think Megan has asked her to clean her room again for fear of Maria’s wrath!).  Mario adores staying at home.  Megan is good for him because she is an athlete and he loves sports.  They can shoot baskets, play Wii, and ride bikes. 

In the summer, I try to get home at the latest around 5:30.  We have been good lately about eating dinner at the house before we run out to the pool, the yogurt shop or Zach’s house.  Once out of the house, it is like we are in a time warp.  Every night I tell myself that I will get the kids home at a decent time so they can bathe and read books and watch a show and go to bed by 9 pm.  That would give Jon and I at least an hour or two to relax.  But, inevitably, I look down at my watch at the yogurt shop or the park and see that it is 9:15 and we are not even home (baths go to the wayside at that point – poor dirty kids).  In the Winter, an hour feels like ten hours because it is cold and dark and wet outside.  You are stuck in the house playing games or watching tv or staying warm.  In the Summer, an hour feels like ten minutes it goes by so fast with all of the things you can do.  Hit the park, head to the library for outdoor music, eat at the yogurt shop, visit friends’ houses. 

The other night we hit Music on the Lawn for Conspiracy.  Conspiracy is a kick-butt, jammin’ local band.  Maria and Mario played around with some neighbor kids – Mario tackled people as soon as they approached him to dance.  The typical Mario.  However, I think I scolded him about 50% less than last time so we are making progress.  They played a few Black Eyed Peas songs that my girlfriend and I embarrassed ourselves to as we pretended to know how to dance hip-hop.  One day I will take lessons….

At the yogurt shop

When we woke up the next morning, Mario and Mario and I acted like we were driving in a car (on Maria’s bed).  Maria and Mario were my parents.  I begged them to turn on the imaginary radio.  Mario shouted “I know what you like daughter, Black Eyed Peas!”  Maria chimed in right after Mario with “No way, hubby, she loves Michael Jackson more!”  I can’t wait for next Tuesday – I think it is a band that does MJ songs – Beat It , Billie Jean, Human Nature.  I will definitely ignore the time for that show.

Subway Adventure

Maria on her third b-day enjoying cupcakes at daycare.

Maria got out of school early yesterday (at 11:30). Jon and I are still not used to this kindergarten deal where kids get out of school early, don’t have school during the middle of the week, get two weeks off for vacation.  Don’t these schools know that we rely on them to be babysitters for our children while we work our 9-5 jobs?  We are still in denial that she is going to be off all summer.  We keep waiting and hoping that some pixie dust will create a summer babysitter for Maria – we are the worst procrastinators.  Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about Mario because he is still in a daycare that takes care of us working parents by staying open until 6 pm.  

Jon and I realized on Thursday afternoon that Maria was off early.  Typical last-minute realization.  Therefore, we decided to do split shifts: I picked her up from school and he watched her later in the day.   Before school I had told her that I would take her to lunch so she could daydream all day about where she wanted to go.  When I picked her up, she ran over to me and squeezed me hard.  Pure excitement.  There is nothing better in life than an ecstatic squeeze and smile from your kid.  To be loved….

Maria getting ready for a "nutritious" lunch at school with her friends!

We walked to the car and she told me that she had chosen Chipotle.  Within a minute of getting in the car, it turned to Noodles.  Then Wendy’s.  We finally agreed on Subway because she wanted a salad and sandwich.  Alright, I thought, something half-way healthy – she has been eating the school lunches, which consist of fried cheese on a stick, french toastix, and cheeseburgers.

As we walked into the store, I described some sandwiches.  They have ham and turkey and roast beef and chicken…

“Mom, I want a meatball sub with extra cheese.”  My girl.

She also wanted a “salad” which consisted of lettuce, cheese, and croutons.  I made her add some tomatoes and peppers but she picked right through them later.  Then she picked up a bag of Doritos (“I promise I will just eat a couple”) and a chocolate milk.  What a smorgasboard.  We would have been better off at Five Guys Burgers and Fries.  We sat at the bar and began eating our meal.  Like her mama, she can take down some food.  Her meatball sandwich was gone in 5 minutes and we both moved onto the salad.  I must admit the Doritos were a good choice – I have not had those in a long time and they hit the spot. 

My girl taking down a cupcake!

Finally, we topped the meal off with a chocolate chip cookie and cupcake.  So much for Jared’s shtick about losing weight through Subway!

To Give or Not To Give


The rascal

Mario hits everyone with everything, but especially his sister.  She gets whipped with his fist, his foot, his flute, his ball, his books, his shoes…  She is two times his size and towers over him but she still shrieks when he comes near her with that growl in his voice and those eyes peering up at her.  He can be a brute. 

This morning he turned his hostility towards me as I tried to get him dressed.  “No thanks mommy!” he continued to scream at the top of his lungs as I tried to slip his skinny little arms into a shirt.  My patience continued to whittle away as I moved to his pull-ups.  He struggled, he kicked, he scratched my arms.  I finally grabbed both of his ankles and glared at him with my most wicked glare and firmly stated “Stop, Mario.”  My words mixed with that air and floated right by him as he continued to fight me.  Luckily, he is a mere 30 pounds so I can use my weight when need be to get the job done, which is what I did this morning.   I finally got him dressed and stood him up only to get a big hug from him and a sweet peck of a kiss on my right cheek. “Moooommmy” he sang as held me tight.  Don’t ask me how kids think, I simply don’t get it.  

He begs me to carry him downstairs, which I do, as always.  He grabs his plastic green whistle flute and begins to blow in it producing a shrill output in my left ear.  He laughs.  Maria, meanwhile, is yelling “Close your eyes everyone!” She loves to dress herself in the morning and come downstairs to surprise us with her creations.  Today she is wearing a long hippy skirt with a pair of pink tights, a long sleeve shirt, the Cancun t-shirt that we recently bought her, a red Hello Kitty sweater, and a pink vest.  Her hair looks like a bird landed on it, went berserk, and flew away.  Nonetheless, my response is “You are so beautiful!”  She twirls around a couple of times clearly proud of her morning accomplishment. 

At this point, Mario senses that Maria is getting too much attention so he yells “Mommy, be quiet!”  I ignore him and Jon tries to put his coat on.  He swings around and hits Jon in the knee with his flute. Jon immediately grabs the toy and places it out of Mario’s reach.  “You do not hit” he firmly tells Mario.  Mario breaks down and pleads for his flute back.  Jon tells him he can have it after school.  Mario continues to cry and plead to me “Mommy, please, toy….” 

Here is my dilemma.  I want this day to start well.  It is already hard enough to take the kids to school because they do not enjoy going there in the morning.  They are not like other kids that get excited about heading to school – they want to stay home every chance they get.  It is not that the school is bad, either.  It is a very well-known, high-class school with great teachers and classrooms.  My kids just love their home-life, which in the end is a good thing but I still long for the day that at least one of them shouts “Yeah, it is a school day!” 

Maria is getting better but Mario is a basket case when we drop him off (much worse for me than Jon but still not good for either of us).  It breaks my heart.  So, if I can start the morning off on a good note with everyone in a good mood on the way out the door and into the car, I feel that at least some part of the morning is decent. 

Therefore, I finally tell Mario that he can have his flute back if he does not hit with it anymore.  Jon looks at me with disgust.  “How is he ever going to learn not to hit?”  He is right.  Mario should not have gotten his flute back because he did not use it properly.  I knew that.  I knew that when I told him he could have it back.  But the desire to have that peace when they headed out the door to begin their day – to see smiles on their faces before I spent the day away from them – was more important to me than the lesson to be learned.