Thursday, June 4, 2009

Meet and Greet

Summer vacation is here!



Summer vacation is also the beginning of “fight season” around my house. Charlie and Henry, my two oldest children, are used to being at school most of the day. Now that they are home all day, it’s just “waaaayyy too boring” around here.

Nothing relieves your boredom better than battling it out with a sibling.

It’s not that Charlie and Henry are the ones to blame; rather, all four of my children are to blame.

George is not used to his older brothers being home all day, so his territory is being invaded. Annabel is only 2, but she’s learning how to fight with her brothers just fine. She hasn’t mastered the potty yet, but she has mastered the fine art of saying, “NOOOO! IT’S MINE!”

Ahhh….the sounds of summer in my home.

My kids basically have somewhat of a long-distance relationship in our home for 10 months out of the year. Charlie and Henry go away for a big chunk of the waking hours, and then they come back in the afternoon. George and Annabel get that long-distance euphoria and start to miss their brothers during the day, and are excited to see them when they get home. Just when they all start getting sick of each other, the boys go back to school again. It’s not that they don’t fight during the school year, it’s just that they just do it much more in the summer.

If you were in my home right now, you would have seen that I just had to take a 15-minute break after I typed that last paragraph. I looked up from my laptop just in time to see Henry dump a big bucket of water over George’s head in the backyard. It wouldn’t be so bad on a hot day, but currently, it’s only 62 degrees outside.

Do you think referee uniforms will ever be in style? I feel like I need one.

I would like to have a “Meet and Greet” icebreaker party at my home with the four of them. I’d call it a “Let’s Get Reacquainted With Each Other Party.”

Their personalities are very different, yet very much the same. It’s not that I question their love for each other. They are fiercely protective of each other when put to the test.

However, I do sometimes question their “like” for each other.

At my fantasy "Meet and Greet" party, Charlie could say, “Hi, my name is Charlie. I’m 8 years old. I love sports and long bike rides around the block. I’m prone to the occasional temper tantrum, especially if Mom tells me it’s time to come in the house, and I’m not done playing.”

Henry could say, “Hi, my name is Henry. I’m 7 years old. I enjoy digging in the dirt, riding my scooter, and picking on my little brother George. I am an expert ‘button-pusher’, if you will.“

George’s icebreaker comments could be, “Hi, I’m George. I’m 4 years old and I like to run around non-stop and play all day. I am friendly, but I also enjoy exacting revenge on my older brother Henry. Tattle-taling is my game, George is my name. ”

If Annabel could string together big sentences, she could say, “Hi, I’m Annabel. I’m 2 years old. I like riding my princess bike and pooping in my pants instead of the potty where it belongs. I am daring, and even though I’m only 2, I like to climb on high things and almost give my Mom a heart attack.”

Wouldn’t that be nice? We could just lay it all on the line and get it all out in the open. The good, the bad, and the ugly. That way no one will be surprised when someone else acts a certain way. In my dream scenario, for example, when George realizes that Henry is just pushing his proverbial buttons, he would just avoid him.

Notice how I said it was a “dream scenario.”

I’m not stupid enough to believe any of this would ever happen.

But a gal can have her fantasies, right?

About a year ago, I bought a small dry-erase board for each of my kids. Every night, Bill or I would write a sentence or two on each child’s board saying something nice that we noticed they did that day. (I'm not taking credit on this one. I got the idea from Jo Frost on “Supernanny”.)

Last year when Henry was in kindergarten, he had been working really hard to advance to the next levels on his Xbox 360 game, “Hot Wheels: Beat That!” But of course, little brother George wanted to play it one day while Henry was at school. I let him play, but George accidentally erased all the levels that Henry had achieved, therefore bumping Henry all the way back down to level zero.

I know next to nothing about video games, but Bill said that having all your levels erased is “a big deal”. Who knew?

Henry was trying so hard to control his rage against George and not get angry. So he grabbed George’s dry-erase board and wrote this:

Wasn’t that clever? It’s an insult disguised as a compliment. Very tricky. Bill and I didn’t know what to say to Henry, because he was trying so hard to say something nice, but he was also angry.

So we took a picture of it.

Sidenote: We’ve since graduated from dry-erase boards to a separate notebook for each child, mostly because we wanted to preserve these memories, and show them to the kids one day.

Regardless of summer being the “fight season” around our house, it’s also tons of fun. We always make some great memories, and we get to know each other again.

I actually miss my kids when they are at school all day. When they were little and I had them home with me all day, it was like we were in our own little bubble. Now, they are out in the world, at school, and experiencing things without me.

When did they grow up so fast?

How many times do we moms ask ourselves that unanswerable question?

Throughout the course of the summer though, we always inevitably get used to being around each other all the time.

By the time they start to get sick of each other, it’s time for school once again.

Back to the long-distance relationship.

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