Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Summer's End...

Tonight is the last night of my summer vacation.  Tomorrow, I’ll shower early, actually dry my hair, dig something other than a t-shirt out of my closet, swipe on some mascara & lip gloss,  grab a clean outfit for C and take him over to his daycare.  I’m hoping he doesn’t cry “Mama! No!” as he realizes I’m walking out the door of Nicole’s house, but I am guessing that will be the reality.  And then I’ll get in my van and drive the 18 miles to work while listening to Van & Bonnie broadcast live from the State Fair. 

In some ways, I’m ready for tomorrow.  Honestly, there have been more than a few days where I’ve wished for the school year to be here.  Actually, it’s mostly just wishing for the routine.  In my old age, I’ve realized that I like schedules.  I like routine.  I like knowing when I will wake up and when I will go to bed and how many hours I have to accomplish (or procrastinate) on a task.  I like that my job is scheduled, yet different every day.  I’m never bored and never lack things to do.  I rarely do the same thing two days in a row—and it keeps me hopping. 

And while I have love love loved being home with C this summer, I have to admit that entertaining a toddler from 7:00 am to 1:00 pm (naptime) and then again from 3:00pm to 8:00 pm (bedtime) –that’s 11 hours of daily un-interrupted Mama/ Charlie time people!—well this can get a little…tiring/ challenging/ boring each day.

But today, I kept thinking, “This is our last summer day buddy!” and I tried to savor every minute of it.  In some small way, I think C sensed this because he was super cuddly and affectionate (even more than usual).  Aside from a tiny (and predictable) morning fit, he was such a happy camper today—making it that much harder for tomorrow to come. 

And looking back on our summer, I’m really happy with how it went.  Of course I would have loved to have more time to sleep in, play in my yard, swim laps outside, or get my road bike out on the highway but I’m realizing that those things might just be on hold for a few years.  Instead, I spent my summer:
  • Waking up early
  • Peeling Cheerios off the floor
  • Packing snacks into Tupperware
  • Wiping dirty faces
  • Going on walks
  • Playing in the sink
  • Coloring
  • Swimming with an inflatable turtle
  • Changing (lots of) diapers
  • Cutting grapes in half.  And then in half again b/c I’m paranoid of choking.
  • Playing pee-a-boo
  • Reading board books
  • Trying to find decent lunch options
  • Telling the dog “no no” (and subsequently teaching C that this is the only thing we say to dogs)
  • Giving “horsey rides”
  • Playing at parks
  • Giving baths
  • Visiting the library
  • Listening to bandstand music
  • Going to playdates
  • Visiting out-of-town friends
  • Going to the zoo

I did not get our basement organized, or finish a bunch of knitting projects, or draw illustrations for a children’s book, or read tons of professional literature.   I didn’t get back in shape or resume my love of yoga.  Instead, I hung out with a toddler (and a big, annoying, sweet, slobbery dog) And while the list of things I did could actually go on for pages of “mundane” and “non-productive” things, I have a really satisfied feeling.  I am grateful that I had these moments to spend with C.  I feel lucky to have been given all summer with him—and even though he won’t remember the way we spent our days, I’m pretty sure they are memories that I’ll never forget.  And just when I get a little misty eyed about going back to work, I nudge myself into remembering that I have the best of both worlds.  After a morning of work tomorrow, I get to scoop up C from daycare at 12:30 and love him up until bedtime.  Now I can live with that. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Some Beach....

I'm not sure what it is about our Grundy Center Aquatic Center but it seems to bring out the "beach" or maybe "bee-otch" in me.  I take that back.  I totally know what it is about the pool that brings this out.  It's unsupervised children.  

The other day, it dawned on me.  I am "that" mom.  You know the kind.  The ones you see scolding someone else's kid, or telling another kid to wait in line, or deliberately taking time so that the antsy kid behind them has to (gasp!) wait for a second.  I'm not sure if this is due in part to being a teacher, or being an ex-lifeguard, or being a mom.  Or maybe it's just a little bit of all of these that makes me feel entitled to disciplining someone else's cherubs.  That added to the fact that, if you are not going to watch your kids, then I am.  Dammit. 

Example #1:  Future Firefighters
Our pool has a fabulous splash area (perfect for toddlers).  Water splashes out of the ground and the kids love running through it.  This area is mostly for younger kids, but every once in awhile some super cool older elementary kids find themselves there.  The big draw for them are these "fire fighter" nozzles that spray water all over.  Apparently it's awesome to turn the things on full-throttle and soak your brother or little sister with them.  Anyway, I was helping Charlie slide down this (super awkward) turtle slide when I saw two girls head over to the hoses.  I trotted over to them and (in my best teacher voice) told them I needed their help to keep the water away from the babies (there were several toddlers playing there at the time).  They nodded and went back to spraying each other. 

No sooner had I gotten Charlie situated on that damn turtle slide when a giant gush of water sprayed right across his face.  Of course, he started screaming as I'm struggling to not kill myself as I stumble down the slippery turtle steps.  The little girl (with zero common sense) hadn't even noticed the commotion she was causing and continued to keep the spray directly on us. 

I marched over to the two girls and asked them what they were thinking.  Here I had trusted them to help me out and they didn't even listen! A poor baby could get very scared, not to mention hurt by that water and apparently they didn't even care.  (I knew I had their attention when lips began to tremble)  I asked them if they knew any babies and if the thought those babies would want water splashed in their face.  I asked them a few more guilt-ridden questions before they headed back to the pool with their friends.  Did I make them sad? Yes--the one cried.  But did I inhibit them from bothering the little ones for the rest of the time?  Yep.  Mission Accomplished. 

Example #2: Circus Monkey
This example also takes place on that stupid turtle slide.  (Charlie really loves it, but the main problem is that the "designers" of the slide weren't parents.  The thing is super wide--making it impossible to hold onto your child from the side.  The steps are slick plastic, so while it's intended for toddlers, those just mastering the walking thing seem to have trouble.  That's all.)

C and I were starting to head down as this little boy was climbing up.  I glanced around and didn't see a mother watching him.  (Shocking) So, I told him that he needs to go around to the stairs.  He looked at me like I was an alien and kept trying to climb the slide.  Eventually, he slipped and slid down the slide so C & I had an opportunity to go down.  But just as C was "landing" the kid comes flying down the slide and slammed into him!  Oooh, mama bear was pissed. 

"Hey! GET over here!" I called to the little boy.  He was both young enough and dumb enough to listen. I asked him to look at me and told him that C was crying because someone (you) just ran into him.  I also said something about accidents happening, waiting your turn, being patient, and looking out for little kids.  Then I said, "Where is your mom & dad?" (It was family swim time) He replied, "I don't have a dad".   (I thought to myself, "oh shit Karah.") I asked him where his mom was and he pointed her out to me.  ("shocking" was my first thought when I realized to whom he was pointing)  I told him he needed to go tell her that she is supposed to be watching him, not talking on her phone or he is going to get reported to the lifeguards.  (I thought that sounded very "law-enforcement" ish for a little kid)  He went right over to her, but I doubt that he told her everything.  If nothing else, he quit screwing around on the slide and C & I enjoyed our remaining pool time. 

I have a deep bitchy vein that runs through my body.  I like to think of myself as a pleasant person, but I'm willing to voice my concerns as well.  And while some mamas out there might be offended when someone else disciplines their child, my response is this:  You are right.  YOU should be the ones watching them, teaching them, and telling them no.  It is NOT my place to do so.  However, if you are not going to do these things, then I am. Period.