Last May, approximately halfway through the month, my brain decided it couldn’t handle one more second of backpacks, carpools, snack days, early mornings and ROUTINES. It was hard. And I only had one kid in school 3 days a week! I definitely think there is a reason we ease our kids (and ourselves) into this school thing. I was craving some freedom and lazy cartoon mornings in our pajamas and waffle days and being able to keep the kids up past 7:30 without triggering a major meltdown the next day.
Then school was over and I was faced with the harsh reality that I now had to go to the grocery store with TWO CHILDREN. Getting out of the house took 72 times longer and there were more fights over who got to use the toilet first and wrestling matches in the aisles of Costco over who saw the forklift first. It took some adjustment.
Once we got used to each other again, the freedom and flexibility beckoned enticingly. We could watch movies in our pajamas, we could eat dinner at 8 PM if we wanted, we could skip baths for 2 (okay, 5) days in a row. We could go to the local water park DURING NAP TIME. Even if there was a meltdown, we had a crazy amount of fun and nobody had to be anywhere else. We could go to barbecues at different friends’ houses all week. We could have long, lazy playdates. We could take the dog to the river at twilight. We could go to Grandma and Grandpa’s and stay as many extra days as we wanted. We were like a very adorable gang of pirates or a crew of ninjas trolling the streets with nowhere to be and no time frame to do it in. We had our own secret club and being the oldest, I was naturally the leader. Unless the 4-year old wanted to lead. Which was everyday.
And then mid-August rolled around. All of a sudden, the energy changed in our house. The long days were catching up to us, the boys and the parents were exhausted. Everything set off a fight: Who sat where at the dinner table, who got what color plate for breakfast, who had the bigger bunch of grapes. Wrestling and fighting were an almost on-the-minute experience. They couldn’t be within 50 feet of each other without trying to take the other one down. I tried to be proactive. We went to the park, we went for short hikes, we got together with friends to try and ease the brotherly tension. The entire family felt like a ticking time bomb. I began to long for the days when we could have a more structured routine, the boys would be split up for part of the day and I could actually go to the grocery store without packing like we were going off to war. And then breaking up a war in the produce section. And again in the dairy aisle. And again at checkout.
Is this part of the circle of life? The great ebb and flow of the all-mighty school year?
Now that school has started again, everything feels new and shiny. The boys are getting along so much better given that they spend half their day apart. The little man and I joyfully bounce from errand to errand. Nobody fights, things get done at the speed of light, we bake muffins together without a permanent cloud of baking soda and cinnamon floating around our head because somebody HAD TO BE FIRST when dumping in the ingredients.
The school year is just like the four seasons. We need one to fully appreciate the others. When my little men were brand new babies, there were no seasons. It was the same day in and day out with no apparent end in sight and I never appreciated it while I had it. Now that we have these solid demarcations in our year (thank you high school English!), I can truly enjoy what each season brings. Until I don’t. And I’m begging for the next season.
For now, the routines and the carpooling and the early bedtimes and sweet stories about school and the after-school hugs and teeball practice feel warm and fuzzy. Probably because summer still feels like it is lingering in the weather and I’m holding on to that delicious feeling of sunshine. Until next May, friends. When we start the whole blasted process over again.
Which transition is the hardest in your house, from school to summer or vice versa?
Are my kids the only ones in the world who fight to the death every second of every day?
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