Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Summertime Blues

I think everyone knows the song "Summertime Blues".  I first heard it coming from the radio in Alan Jackson's appealing country voice in the 90's and it has been used in many soundtracks and commercials and covered so many times.  I just researched it and learned that the original version was recorded by Eddie Cochran in 1958, which means that my grandparents heard it coming out of their radios while they tended to my parents as infants that summer.  I wonder if, as my grandmothers were bleaching cloth diapers and washing dish after dish by hand, they listened to the lyrics and thought, as I do now, "Oh, I feel sooooo bad for this guy...his girlfriend had to wait for their date until his shift at work ended!  And then he had to listen to a lecture from his dad before he gets to have fun! Must be soooo hard!"

My version at the moment would entail raising a fuss and a holler about spending all summer trying to stop my daughter from dumping bubble solution and a box of 50 pieces of sidewalk chalk all over the driveway every day, only getting to enjoy my patio set in 30 second increments while my kids try to dig holes in my plants and throw dirt and rocks everywhere, having to pee really bad at the park but not being able to go because all they have is an outhouse and myself and two kids don't fit in there, and counting down how many more times I will have to wear my maternity swimming suit in public.  Oh, and really craving beer and not getting to have any.  I tried to make it rhyme but my brain is too slow.  Sorry. 

This week is forecast to be the hottest of the summer so far, and today is the hottest day of the week.  I used to love days like these, just as I loved many days that epitomize each season.  This was probably because my life in general resembled a beer commercial, with summer bringing late night bar hopping on foot in the balmy heat, long days at the swimming pool (working, but still...I was in a swimming suit) and drinks on restaurant patios while various beer and liquor promoters made the rounds leaving everyone with obnoxious freebie gifts like beads, t-shirts and blinking lapel pins.  At least, even if I wasn't out living it up, I was able just sit outside with a book or magazine and feel the heat sometimes. 

In the spirit of honesty, and NOT complaining, because these statements can seem like complaining, I am going to acknowledge that summer with toddlers isn't that great.  And I love summer and hot weather.  With little kids, everything is just a big pain.  We all know that the old days our grandparents lived are gone, and I cannot do as my dad's mom did and send him out to roam around the farm under the supervision of his 4 year old brother.  And the women of past generations generally were surrounded by family members (between my grandmothers they had a total of ten sisters and probably as many sisters in law and cousins in close enough proximity that they probably socialized with another adult woman every day) so they had an easier time entertaining and managing kids.. 

Sure, since Tessa is sleeping right now, I could bring Ben out in the backyard, sit on a patio chair and read a book while he played.  After sitting for 20 seconds he would be pulling on my arm wanting me to get up and get something or see something.  Or he would be ignoring the water table or activity I just set up to play in the pile of dirt that washed out from the wall earlier this summer.  And soon he would figure out how to transfer water from the table to the pile to make mud and then he would make a huge damn mess.  I don't remember if I shared pictures on here but I let this happen once.  It was cute that one time, but it ended with a bath at 4 pm and mud handprints all over the glass door and footprints in the kitchen and I practically had to shovel out the bathtub after his bath.  So cleaning it up probably took as long as he was playing. 

Oh, look, he made a demo derby!  OK, now never do that again! 

So, back to the summer of toddlers...what options are there?  Any outdoor activity can just be exhausting.  The swimming pool is always fun, but it costs $3.00 per person over the age of 12 months so all three of us would cost $9.00 and you know how long the attention span for 1 and 3 year olds is.  That price is reasonable for a several hour session but for 45 minutes it is a lot.  Also, as a former lifeguard, I have seen how fast little kids can get into trouble in shallow water so I almost feel panicked with both of them and only me to watch.  I actually prefer going to my hometown pool when I am visiting because, even though it is dated and lacks the fun jungle gyms and features, it has a separate fenced wading pool that is free!  You only have to pay for the "big pool"!  Then there is the park, which is usually fun until I want to leave and then have to wrangle two screaming maniacs who don't want to leave across the lawn and to the parking lot.  And of course, you can't in good conscious let your kids outside without sunscreen and it's enough trouble to maintain my own sunscreen usage and I am a willing user.  Toddlers are NOT willing.  In NO WAY are they willing.  I have to threaten to take away the outdoor activity in order to get Ben to submit to wearing sunscreen.  Although, Tessa likes to wear her sun hat so that is nice. 

So anyway, I will probably be enjoying the hottest day of the summer indoors.  Yesterday was really hot and we went out in the back yard and I set up water related fun only to spend the short time we were out there trying to stop Ben from making a mud hole and stopping Tessa from stomping her feet in it.  I see pictures on social media of outdoor escapades every day and it's hard not to feel like you should be outside nonstop, enjoying summer since it is so short.  I read a blog post earlier this week from another mom, someone I don't know personally, who described a summer afternoon taking her 4 and 1 year old to a splash pad to meet up with friends.  All the kids started whining about being cold after two minutes and there was no shade and she ended up spending most of the outing chasing the younger child who was continuously trying to run away from the scene.  Yet, she would not admit that it was a bust and they probably should have just watched PBS or played in their own yard.  Nothing about it sounded fun but people feel like they can't admit that every activity with their kids isn't fun and in fact most of them are very tiresome.  They manage to get a good picture to share so it looks fun but everything that went on behind the scenes wasn't.  I reassure myself with visions of the future, when these kids are in elementary school and can swim without constant supervision, play outside alone without getting lost or destroying something and don't want my attention every minute of every day but for now summer is just an extension of every other season.  Maybe they will be in a sport and actually participate without running over to me constantly and trying to pull leaves off a tree instead of listening to the coaches (T-ball flashback!) and I can sit back and eat candy and watch in peace.  Maybe we will live in a neighborhood or town where kids still take off on bikes with their friends all day (although people are getting so paranoid that in a few years a parent who allows this will probably end up in jail) and they will even be old enough to mow the lawn and water the plants and wash our cars for us.  We just have to make it through these few years!

Speaking of sunscreen, I have discovered something this summer.  My children get tan.  WHAAAAT?  Ben is developing an obvious farmer's tan even though I apply sunscreen regularly.  It's like his tan can't be stopped!  And Tessa is the same.  After time in the sun they don't look red at all.  They just look bronze.  Everyone assumes that because I have red hair I must fry after minutes in the sun, which is not true.  It certainly will happen eventually but if I go outside for 30 minutes without sunblock on my legs they are as white as ever but if Ben and Tessa go outside for 30 minutes without sunscreen they look three shades darker.  They have it...the coveted blond haired, blue eyed combination with a naturally bronzed complexion.  They look like they could be in advertisements for bronzing powder and their hair is naturally highlighted in all the right places.  Lucky them...but if they ever want to go near a tanning bed the answer will still be NO!

Here is a cute picture to wrap this up...Tessa found her new fleece jacket for this winter and she wants to wear it all the time.  She is oblivious to the fact that it is 100 degrees outside and can't wear it.  She gets mad when she has to take it off. 

Soon enough we will all be so tired of zipping jackets that we will want to scream...maybe the sunscreen isn't so bad!

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