June days. Bright, sunny, a balmy breeze in the air. Mounting anticipation. After that yet painful hurdlefinals week - a glorious respite. Summer vacation! Having moved from the small children stage into a family with teenagers - all three - the luxury of sleeping late will be enjoyed by everyone including my husband who teaches.
No more 6:30 alarms to get up to. No more showers 10 minutes apart to get everyone through with, at least two falling behind the schedule to the roaring fury of those whose time slot they occupied. No more slices of bread lined up on the table waiting to be spread with mayo, mustard, heavy on the catsup for Mike, ham for Greg, but not for Dan, and lots of onions for my husband. No more overseeing of homework, taxiing from one after-school activity to another.
Music practice down to a more palatable, less resistant half hour a day. No more telephone calls ringing one after another as soon as 3:10 comes around, causing arguments over who's occupying the phone most, with Dad's dictum in the background, "Ten minutes is enough. The phone is for messages, not nonsense." All the pressurized time slots will at least be spread out. We'll really be able to relax. It will feel just great. How we're all looking forward to it.
It's hard to believe another summer is already here. I think back to last summer, the beach fun, barbeques, visits with relatives and friends. Those were the highlights. What about the rest of the days, the ordinary days, how did they go? The first few days were really great, as I recalled. But then I remembered, "What's there to do, Mom?" "Well, the grass needs cutting. You could work on that table you started in woodshop. Read a book. Call your friend, Joey." And a half dozen other suggestions. "Naw, that's boring," the answer to each.
The refrigerator became the popular hang out. Every ten minutes someone was hungry or thirsty, and water were days when they all scattered and forgot to say where they were going, so that panic and prayers for safe return were beginning to surface by the time they breezed in, apologetic for having forgotten to convey their plans, but not to worry.
And then, the particular escapades that more idle time gives the mind a chance to dream up and try out. There was that night last July. After some company had left, around 10 o'clock, we sat down to read the paper. The boys had turned on the TV. After awhile my husband and I were roused from the articles absorbing us by the quiet. It was too quiet. "Where are the kids?" he asked. "Maybe they're watching TV down in the basement, or maybe they went up to bed," I guessed. "I don't hear anything," he said. "I'm going to check." "Greg, Michael, Dan!" No answer from the basement. "Greg, Michael, Dan, answer me!" he called up the stairs. No answer upstairs. "I'll take a look." He went upstairs. Not in their bedrooms. He looked in the basement, and around the first floor. Not a soul. Strange, bordering on eerie. They had been in the house. We had had that contented feeling knowing "where our children are." "I'd better check again." He went back upstairs. In Dan's room, he noticed a window open, went over and looked out. Nothing. He looked up. There on the very top of the pitched roof sat our three musketeers, "star-gazing," as they later explained. What better way to absorb a beautiful summer's night. They had similarly perched there before, the neighbors later let us know.
We took the incident in stride with a chuckle once they had safely climbed back into the house. But what about those days when everyone was home together and into each other's hair.
"Mom, I want to borrow Greg's bike, and he won't let me."
"What's wrong with yours?" I asked.
"It's got a flat!"
"I'm not about to let him take my new 10-speed. He'll leave it somewhere, or someone'lI take it and that'll be the end of it," Greg argued.
"I said I'd lock it," Mike replied.
"Take mine instead," I offered.
"A girl's bike? You're kidding."
"Take mine then," Dad offered.
"That vintage thing with the fat wheels. No thanks."
"What a bunch of selfish, ungrateful kids," Dad thundered. "Is this what I'll have to put up with all summer? I need a vacation away, away from it all!"
And it was not any easier on my husband on the days when the kids congregated in the backyard to play basketball.
"Who are all those huge kids in our yard? I've never seen most of them before. And when are they going to let up on that basketball? Thump, thump, thump. It's constantly pounding on the pavement - and in my head. How can I concentrate on preparing these notes for next year's lectures. Tell those kids to stop already. Enough is enough."
I was developing a headache, too, but on the other hand, the boys needed space to let out their energies and we had the hoop. Mediator, that's right, I remember now, the role took on heavier proportions on hot summer days. I had forgotten that.
The sunny picture of the approaching summer days began to pale. Shades of grey were invading my mental images. Would it indeed be a great summer?
That night at dinner.
Me: "Well, crew, summer vacation's almost here. Have you thought (gulp) about summer plans?"
Dad: "I meant to tell you, Arlene, I'm going to to teach the summer session this year. With these growing boys, we can use the extra money. We'll still have time for our family vacation toward the end of August."
Greg: "And now that I'm 'ahem' of age, I'm going to look for a summer job. Dave works at McDonald's and he thinks he can get me in."
Mike: "I really liked the two weeks I spent at St. Herman's Camp last summer. The director said I might just qualify for a staff assistant this year. I'm going to check that out."
Mom: "That's for the whole summer!"
Dan: "I want to go up to St. Herman's, too, for a couple of weeks, anyway; expecially Teen Week, since I'm a teen now. Can I?
Mom: "Isn't anyone going to be at home?"
Dan: "I'll keep you company when I'm home, Mom. But then Charley, George and I do have some plans.
My goodness! Change of focus. The summer picture now turns into a kaleidoscope of colors. The new question becomes - School's out. Family's out. What will "Mom" do this summer?
What's in store for you and your family this summer? Here are some questions that might help focus your thinking and plans for the months ahead. Get together with a few others and share your comments.