Monday, May 26, 2014

Summer Is Coming And I Must Have A Plan

May brings with it a few givens . . . Mother's Day, our first heat wave, and one really awful, not so good, very bad day.

A typical scenario: Dave is out of town, the high hits 98, a child prone to procrastination has a research paper due, the Internet goes down.

Or an alternative scenario: Dave is working on a Sunday, it's rained for three days straight, the television remote has gone missing, a nameless child is patrol leader in charge of the Webelos' cross-over that happens to be tonight, in the rain, and, oh, that nameless someone forgot that I'm supposed to supply chocolate chip cookies, and, wouldn't you know, some other unidentified someone has managed to consume the entire secret stash of chocolate chips.

There are about twelve variations on the theme typically involving smashed eyeglasses, lost permission slips, sudden onset of vomiting, a freezer door left open and Moose Tracks ice cream melting over the kitchen floor, name your calamity.

The results are predictable: Tensions run high.

So it was with John and his recent bout of croup. John's fever hit 104, the fish tank began to leak, John began to wheeze, and certain nameless members of the household who may or may not be related to me began a loud and persistent fight . . .  over screen time. Yes, screen time. A brother's airway was constricting, and we were squabbling over Mind-craft.

Important life skill: If your brother's airway appears to be obstructed, best you not bring up inequities (gross though they may be) in the distribution of game time.


But it's not wholly their fault. It's May, and this happens in May. Every May. Right before summer break. Things dissemble, and they dissemble badly. I get a quick glimpse of the monotony, the cabin fever, the complicated interpersonal dynamics that tend to occur when we are  under house arrest spending a full day together at home. Of course, tensions run high once in a while throughout the year, but in May they come with an ominous thought that germinates in the back of my mind and works its way forward: All summer is going to be like this.

I panic, and then I begin to plan.

Summer requires A Plan. The Plan need not be perfect. I reserve the right to modify, edit, yea, even to scrap The Plan in its entirety, for good reasons or for no reason whatsoever. Regardless, it is essential to my mental health to begin the summer with A Plan.

After John's fever broke and his wheezing subsided, I headed to the archives to peruse Previous Plans, and I stumbled on a post that began like this:

The Day of the Black Sharpie demonstrated with stark clarity that I need a plan for the summer, and it needs to be a good one. Year ago I pondered ideas to get summer off to a positive start. Today I have been revisiting a few of those thoughts.

I can't remember the details surrounding "The Day of the Black Sharpie," but I'm guessing it's some variation of what I've described above. There's nothing new under sun, not really.

Here's the rest of the post:

As a mother, I head into summer with a mix of feelings. First, there is the excitement of having vacation stretching before us with promises of swimming, trips to the zoo, long-awaited guitar lessons, Boy Scout camp, lazy afternoons playing cards, our annual trek to Michigan. All good, very good.

But second, there is the inevitable adjustment period wherein I assert with an unblinking resolve that would impress Joseph Stalin himself two basic premises: one, your brothers are fellow members of the human race and will be treated accordingly; and two, summer doesn't equate to a non-stop orgy of electronic overload.

This year, I am forced to add a third premise: I alone am Master of the Refrigerator. My friend Rachel has mentioned a refrigerator lock, and honestly, I'm intrigued. When I view the vast quantities of food flying out of my kitchen, I fear for both our budget and our collective body mass index.

In all my ruminations about summer, I have made a few significant resolutions:

1. Prayer - We will start and finish with it. Without God, we are sunk, sunk, sunk.

2. Water, the drink - We'll be consuming lots of it. Water that is free. Water that does not stain when it spills. Water that does not ensnare the newspaper nor the cover of my new book when it dries all over the dining room table. Water!

3. Water, the pool - We will spend as much time as possible in it and under it.

4. Consistency - We will eat in the dining room! We will put away what we use! We will do our little chores promptly and cheerfully! A mother can dream, can't she? Don't rain on my parade!

5. Variety - We will leave the house as often as possible. Leave the mess somewhere else - that's my new motto!

6. Order - In my latest attempt to wrest some order from this maelstrom of clutter, I am labeling everything that clear packing tape can adhere to. So, the tourist to the upper left is soon to be taped to the bin that will hold her, the flight attendants, the pilot, and the luggage.

And finally ...

7. Gratitude - Our days with all the Dolins under one roof are not limitless. Tim, Kolbe, John, and Ainsey Boo - precious, irreplaceable gifts from God, one and all. I get a brief season with the full complement, and for that I am grateful.

No doubt I will be tempted to waver on these points sometime around Tuesday morning at 10:00 a.m. when we are but 36 hours into this grand adventure we call summer. We will regroup and once again forge ahead.

Happy summer to you!

Not a bad list, and one that should get Summer 2014 off to a good start. Item #7 tugged at my heartstrings as Tim will be working out of town for a good chunk of the summer -- proof positive that our days under one roof are not limitless.

1 comment:

Kris said...

I try and do this too, often not very successfully! Lots of pool time, definitely. It helps in the beginning that we have swim team, because that lends structure to our lives. And that my oldest is working and the 15-year old has work-outs 3 mornings a week at the high school. Anything helps. The electronic overload stymies me EVERY.TIME though.....