Summer Time

frog-1It’s Sunday night, and I’m just thinking about some things I love about Summer.

I love going to the library with my kids almost every Wednesday. We scavenge the children’s and junior fiction shelves for things to keep us reading all week. I initial their little tracker cards for their daily reading, and they pick a coupon. Then we go get their free french fries or donut, come home. They have an impromptu readathon while I get lunch or dinner ready, depending on what time we went.

As often as I can sneak in at bedtime, I read picture books to my youngest. He is five, and for awhile he got lost in the mix because we had aged up our bedtime reading with the older kids. Alex read them all of the Harry Potter books. I tried to take turns on that one, but Alex is a gifted reader and did so well at the voices that after awhile the kids wouldn’t let me read those to them any more. He has been working his way through The Lord of the Rings series with them now, and it’s slower going with me sliding my picture books into our mix.

Summertime also means a chore / exercise / play time / screen time spreadsheet that Alex created. The kids follow it so their days have structure. Since I have been working, Alex mostly gets to enforce it. I am grateful for that.

I love hiking with them. The picture above is a little frog they discovered with their cousins on a hike we took this summer. While we were walking I had to pull back from my hard working, task oriented self to let the kids wade in the water and examine details like frogs. I had the impulse to push everyone along, and hurry them down the trail. But that is not summer. Summer is for stopping at each curve in the creek, and seeing what we can see.

Every week my kids swim at the city pool. A couple of them are still not confident enough swimmers, so I watch them the whole time I’m there. It’s an exercise in mindfulness. I can feel my brain wanting to switch into distracted mode, going through to do lists for work, starting to rest, thinking about reading, social media or checking my email on my phone. The pool pulls me back. I have to watch the kids. I slowly count through the four of them, one at a time.

On one of our first swimming trips I was doing my slow watch, and suddenly a fully dressed mom was half-way across the pool. By the time my attention was fully on her, she was grabbing her little girl, who had been struggling, unable to get her face out of the water. A lifeguard had been completely oblivious, and was sitting on a stand immediately above the little girl.

The experience just brought home to me how fleeting life is, how quickly and how dramatically it can change. It made me so grateful for each afternoon, each moment I have to watch, to read to, and to just be with my kids.

One of my sons was extremely difficult this afternoon, throwing a high conniption fit because I wouldn’t let him watch a movie. I sat with him as he cried through a long tantrum on his bed. I’m glad I have this time tonight to sift through my thoughts in writingto reflect on how much I love the little darlings in spite of their occasional evil spells.