Monday, August 29, 2011

Laidback Parenting

I have a friend who is maybe slightly neurotic (her words, not mine--because you know I use tactful phrasing like "careful parenting" to describe her actions). The other night we were visiting and she shared the story (I don't think she'll mind me sharing this with you) about the time her children were found playing with a dead bird and she freaked out a little bit and called the Center for Disease Control, informed them that her children probably had bird flu, and then saved the bird in a Ziploc bag so that appropriate testing could be done should her children suddenly be struck down.

(This sounds extreme, but I am reminded that she and her family were single-handedly responsible for introducing swine flu to the state of Idaho, so maybe she's justified?)

I think the difference in our parenting styles could best be expressed by the fact that my reaction to finding my children playing with a dead bird would probably be, "Okay, guys, two more minutes with that dead bird and then we need to throw it away."

And you?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Summer? Bah.

Yesterday we took a day trip down to the beach. Despite spending the majority of the time under the beach tent thing, I am still sunburned. Unfortunately, I also am a pretty crappy sunscreen application specialist, because Logan has a giant red blotch around his left eye. In my defense, do you know how long it takes kids to stop crying after you accidentally get sunscreen in their eyes? HOURS! I know because once my sister got it in my nephew's eye at the zoo and we all heard the resulting misery. For hours.

It was a calm ocean, I must say, although the flag was yellow. Even Logan could go safely out in the surf without fear of being knocked over. Veevs came up to me midway through the afternoon and said, "I hope next time we come the waves will be a little more promising for body boarding." Um, okay?

I am not depressed, exactly, but I am not exactly functioning on full capacity, either. I blame pregnancy, of course. Everything that goes wrong in my life for these nine months gets blamed directly on pregnancy. Lost shopping list? Pregnancy. Lost child? Pregnancy. Lost mind? Pregnancy.

On the lost child thing, Rhett came home the other day and the kids were out riding their bikes all over the neighborhood. "So what," he asked, "We just let our kids run wild outside now?"

Well, yes. I do. And I call it childhood. (Rhett will probably want me to tell you that Logan, who is only 19 months old was running around on the street, and that was a small oversight, but really: pregnancy!) I am trying to let go of some of the anxiety I have about letting my children play outside by themselves and instead give them the gift of the kind of childhood that I had where we ran wild through the neighborhood--riding bikes, playing hide and seek, digging through trash (once I discovered a disposable razor in the neighbor's trash and amused myself for nearly half an hour running my fingers along the blades. I was nothing if not safety-minded.)--and no one really cared as long as we got home in time for dinner. I am quite a bit removed from that kind of nonchalance about my children's whereabouts, but it's a goal to work towards, no?

Also for the record, Rhett had this kind of childhood, too, which makes me wonder why my generation is so much more uptight about having our children in our line of sight for every waking moment than the previous generation? Rhett and I both loved being able to explore and wander, but freak out when we don't know exactly where our children are.

The other day as my friends in my book club were arriving at my house, we (and by we, I really mean Rhett) suddenly discovered that we (again, the we is generous, here) didn't know exactly where Jakers was. I had a good guess, as he has a penchant for the construction lots in the cul de sac across from ours. However, the ladies in my book club good-naturedly joined in the search, and then to my everlasting amusement, Rhett pulled out of the garage on his lawn tractor to go and search for him. He tooled that thing down the cul de sac and came back moments later with Jakers perched triumphantly on his knee. Who in their right mind thinks that their lawn tractor is the best tool for that particular job? His car was right there. So was mine. And his legs, also, they are not broken. But Rhett pulled out the lawn tractor. I was secretly chuckling all night.

I don't want to admit this, because most of the blogosphere is extolling the virtues of having their darling dears with them at every moment and discussing what a joy it has been to be spending time with their sweet, precious angels, but I'm ready for school to start. First, of course, the structure. I always pretend that I want summer to end because the structure of school and bed time and such is good for my children (which I think is true, of course). But in my heart, it's really because, hello, they are driving me crazy. I love them, it's fun for a little while, this constant togetherness thing, but then, oy vey, let's move on, shall we?

This summer my kids went to little day camps, which was delightful for everyone. They are sponsored by our local university, and I will pay hundreds more dollars than I actually did pay for the service, because it would still be cheaper than a psychiatrist for me. The camps kept me sane, and were really fun. My kids went to these camps: Lego camp, Nature Art camp, Under the Sea camp, Fishing for Fun camp, and CSI camp (I had no idea my sensitive, delicate little flower Veevs would show such a powerful interest in blood spatter). Next year I will probably double the number of camps we go to, because it was like paying for sanity. MY sanity.