I’ve been inspired to write a bucket list for summer parenting after reading Bruna’s list at Bees With Honey. Without further ado, heeeeeeeere’s mine (I’ve crossed off the ones that we’ve done already):
- Make like a tree sloth: Spend as much time as possible reclining in a supine position on a hammock or chaise lounge, stopping just short of getting bed sores or 3rd degree sunburn.
Note: What does this have to do w. parenting, you ask? Well – it falls under the ‘Put your own oxygen mask on before you put your child’s on’ category. A slow-moving, well-rested mommy is better than a fast-moving, pissed-off, threadbare one.
- Other than going to exotic locales, playdates, or the swim club, do as little of anything as you can slothfully do.
- Avoid driving to boring, off-putting, or dreadful locations. This includes the grocery store, pediatrician, vet, dentist, DMV, and horrid Lake Forest mall.
Take the girls to Suzuki violin camp, nearly die from the stress of it, and (stupidly) start Ella on guitar, then abruptly stop.
- Break out the Jimmy Buffet CDs and crank ‘em up, even if this means opera-loving husband will sneer and have to wear earplugs around house.
- Do high-quality ‘mirror play’ w. Ella every day - this means she leads, I follow. This means that instead of me inserting my bossy-pants, uber-boring adult self into playtime by instructing her what we’ll do (i.e., “Let’s build a tower!”) I shut my trap, get down at her level (usually the floor), and participate. With verve (i.e., “I would love to be in your stuffed-dog-show/dress-up-tea-party-and-scatter-cookie-crumbs-all-over-the-carpet-then-squash-them-into-it-permanently-w.-my-knees-when-afterwards-we-play-Bucking-Bronco-with-you-riding-on-my-back-and-me-nay-naying…and I will not ask what time it is, use the word chiropractor, or say “I’ll be right back” and go meandering off to blog for two hours.”)
Get rid of the television set and cable so you can spend even more quality time playing Bucking Bronco and going to the chiropractor. Find loving home for Pippi, our neurotic shichon.
- Spend long periods of time just reading books with the kids and pretending that we are not bickering and snarking rudely at each other.
- Spend long periods of time listening to Jackie-Kennedyesque poetry CDs with kids while painting water lilies on canvas and pretending we are not getting on each other’s nerves, and there is no need to incarcerate them in long-term, sports-oriented, run-til-they-drop-like-puppies summer camps. Is there?
- Go into the forest with Ella when she does her week at forest camp. Learn how to build a fairy house. While in the forest with the forest-loving-vegetarian-people-who-recycle, pretend that you love nature, bugs, and bee stings, because it is politically incorrect not to, just as it is politically incorrect for you to buy your kids a designer puppy only to turn around and give her up for adoption after 8 months and untold square footage of poopy carpet.
- Learn how to do something creatively useful, for God’s sake: how to play the ukelele, how to do face painting, how to empty the dishwasher at regular intervals.
- Get your ass into a gym. Any gym. Good grief.
Note: I don’t care if you can’t find your iPod/don’t have socks/don’t understand why the last time you were a regular in a gym Jane Fonda/high-impact aerobics/Spandex were ‘in’, but now it’s sadistic Spin instructors who really scare you/earthy Yoga moms in yoga pants who can hold themselves and their polite child suspended in air with only one palm etc. etc.
- Stop drinking coffee. Again.
- I mean it.
- Consider giving up sugar, Ms. Bridget Jones: impossible sugar addict.
What does Bridget Jones have to do w. parenting? Well – it falls under the ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ category. I can’t expect my kids to have a healthy relationship w. food if my own is tainted w. late-night trysts with Ben AND Jerry.
- Before you give up sugar: Show Fi how to make organic honey-lavender ice cream, merengues, and Bruce Bogtrotter’s Squidgy Chocolate Cake from Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes. In fact, just make all the revolting recipes.
- Replace all of the puppy-pee-and-poo-stained high-end carpets in the house with really cheap ones. Cheap carpets are revolting, but poo-stained ones are worse.
- Do some unplanned, hokey road trips with the girls through podunk areas that make them grateful to live where they do.
- Go on fun, but educational, field trips: Go to Catotcin Zoo & Cunningham Falls. Take the metro into D.C. & spend day at the Smithsonian w. the girls, even though you are wary of the metro and the Smithsonian overwhelms you, even though the D.C. mall has no cafes, just germy, over-priced deli trucks.
Hijack one of the teenaged lifeguards at the pool and hire her to be our summer babysitter.
- Preschedule the babysitter so you can go on some dates with your man. Put her on retainer if you have to.
Buy jam jars so Fi can make jam, and Ella & Fi can catch fireflies. Do an hour of fun “home school” a day – set up a school room in the living room with a table, chairs & supplies.
- Work through the Summer Bridges workbooks with Fi (grades 3 -4) and Ella (K into 1st) without giving up 1/4 way through, losing workbooks, or spilling yogurt smoothies on them so they are unreadable like you did last summer.
- Do Suzuki violin with Ella most days, even if you feel emotionally pureed by her comments afterwards (“Mommy, I just don’t think you know a single thing about music.” etc.)
- Start the summer books reports now. Don’t wait ’til the last week of summer to herd the kids through their book reports.
Help strengthen Ella’s skills so she’s ready for school in the fall – read books with her every morning, get & use math flash cards, teach her how to count money & tell time. This means that although I want you to make like a tree sloth, I want you to be a Tiger Mom, too. Shit.
- Go on a beach vacation somewhere on the East Coast: dip your toes in the warm Atlantic. (Try to avoid hurricane season.)
- While you are home-schooling, doing high-quality mirror-play, learning downward dog, in withdrawals from caffeine & sugar, building a fairy house in the forest, suffering through daily Suzuki practice, playing with your kids yet at the same time being the perfect Tiger Mom, complete the first three chapters of your 2nd novel and submit them to your agent.
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