Monday, June 2, 2014

Can A Fun Summer Include Chores and Expectations?

Cooper's last day of first grade!  He was so embarrassed that I wanted to snap a pic of him and his teacher!

Connor was more agreeable.  He adored his third grade teacher.  She will be missed!

To pacify Collin while I clothes shopped, I handed him my phone.  I found these pictures!

The boys and I visited Grandma and Grandpa Wood over the weekend.  Cooper hammed it up on the boat.

Claudia and I broke out our "pink ladies" shirts for the Sunburst Half Marathon on Saturday.  Slower time than last year, but great race and experience!

Spent Saturday night celebrating Kevin Mantel's birthday with my running friends.

Hit the library today for the start of the summer reading program.  I let Caleb help his little brother Collin pick out library books and check them out.  Once home, I happened to glance at the books.  This is Caleb's idea of appropriate reading material for a five year old!

"You ruined summer!"  

Said one son, tears streaming down his cheeks, just minutes into the first day of summer.  I've been the recipient of many a bold statement, but this one may be the most dramatic.  Could one (seemingly pleasant) mother murder summer fun, and so quickly?

Clearly this son and I held vastly different opinions on the summer.  He thought the next ten weeks would be one long party.  He'd stay up late, sleep until he couldn't, lounge in front of a screen, munch on everything naughty, invite friends over whenever, and then repeat and repeat.

Enter mom.

Enter reality.

I envisioned the next ten weeks as intentional time with my boys.  Sure, we'd have days filled with water play, friends, and sunshine, but we'd also read, do some chores, and brush teeth (Yes, I'm demanding like that!).  And much to the chagrin of some sons, I expected each boy to maintain some level of activity.

Enter today's conflict.

I implemented this summer's new "Mom's Miles" program.  Three days a week, the boys would run ONE mile.  And so I drove the boys to the middle school track and we piled out of the minivan.  Two boys were on board.  Cooper raced around the track like a rabbit and seemed invigorated by the experience.  Collin agreeably meandered around the track twice.

As for the two older boys... remember, I ruined summer.

Caleb, not known for being demure, pulled out the theatrics. 

His chest was on fire.

His lungs were bursting.

His heart was begging for mercy.

He quite possibly was having a seizure, heart attack, asthma attack, allergic reaction, fainting spell, and whatever other medical term he could pull out.

I stood my ground, resting on strong parenting beliefs.  I repeated a mantra in my head.

Exercise is good for them.

They can't spend hours on the couch without a little on the track.

I'm doing this because I love them.

It's only a mile.

But as I watched my sons run around the track with scowls on their faces, I started to second guess the whole thing.

Should summer be ten weeks of unstructured fun?  

Although some sons would say differently, my deepest hope is that the summer is fun for everyone.  But, I don't think a fun summer and a summer pierced with expectations are mutually exclusive.  In fact, I believe a summer that includes some expectations and responsibilities maintains sanity and peace, and prevents one mother from turning into the cruise director, chauffeur, maid, and cook. 

And so the Mom's Miles program will continue.  I'll still make other crazy demands on the kids, like wearing clothes, brushing their hair, and perhaps reading a book or two.  But we'll still find time to dip in the pool and toss around water balloons.  

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