Back in February, I signed the boys up for a week-long intensive basketball camp. At the time, they could hardly wait to lace up their shoes and hit the court, yet they had to endure four long months until the start of camp. Finally, the night before camp had arrived and we had arranged a sleepover with the next door neighbor and fellow camper. It was a win-win situation for us since we had to drop Cricket off at a different camp the next morning and weren’t able to get the boys to camp ourselves. Sport and Rocky excitedly packed their gym bags and sleepover gear then headed over to spend the evening with their buddy. Maverick and I were just turning out the lights around 11 pm when the phone rang (cue my stomach sinking). It was Sport calling to say he was scared and wanted to come home. I tried to calm him with every tool I had, yet no success. Finally, I suggested that I come over to tuck him in, thinking that seeing me in person would calm his fears. When I arrived, he still pleaded with me to just let him sleep in his own bed. I knew that taking him home not only meant that he would have to skip the camp he had so looked forward to, but also give in to an anxiety that I knew he could overcome. Part of me wanted to scoop him in my loving arms and run him back to our house, but I ultimately knew that wasn’t best for him. I tucked the covers around his head and began singing his favorite song. I could see his body relax as he turned over and closed his eyes. We exchanged an “I love you” and I headed out the door. I tossed and turned all night wondering if I had made the right decision. Early the next morning, I received a text from the neighbor mom saying the boys were all still sleeping…not a peep all night. A wave of relief washed over my exhausted body. That night after camp, Sport enthusiastically reported on the day’s events including his team’s 5-on-5 win. It was certainly a day of victories all around.
Photo Courtesy of: KBB
Summer had finally hit. The backpacks were empty, alarm clocks were turned off, and eyes rolled every time I mentioned reading a book or sharpening those math facts. The kids were already playing hard and squeezing the life out of their vacation days. As one of our days last week was winding down, two of my monkeys were high in our front tree while Cricket was busy decorating the driveway canvas with chalk. Between tinkering with my flowers and barking at the boys to steady themselves on those wobbly branches, I hadn’t paid much attention to Cricket’s growing chalk masterpiece now sprawling all the way up to the garage. Exhausted from the new summer routine, I pulled up a chair to kick back and relax. It was then that I saw Cricket had not been working on a picture, but rather a message of gratitude. She had written, “Thank You” in the center of the driveway, and then surrounded it with all of the things she was grateful for. She listed school, love, ice cream, friends and much more. As I was admiring her work, huge water droplets began falling from the sky. They quickly came closer together until sheets of rain blanketed the air as we watched from the safety of our front window. My sentimental daughter fretted about her painstaking last hour of work that was quickly washed away like colorful tears running down the driveway. The next day brought the sun out again and the kids were back at their carefree outdoor play. When I walked out front I found my persistent daughter recreating her message of appreciation from the day before. When I started back into the house, she begged for me to add something to her growing list. I picked up a piece of pink chalk and carefully added ‘warm sunshine’ and ‘odor control spray for stinky boy shoes’ to her work. However, as I walked away, I realized what I am most thankful for is a kid that is thankful.
When we were house hunting seven years ago, we dragged the kids though over 50 houses. As toddlers, they would run from room to room in each house spouting off their tiny opinions. We heard complaints that bedrooms were too small and basements looked like ghostly graveyards. We finally picked a house that we hoped had it all…room for our growing brood, a nice yard for the kids to play, and a great family neighborhood. After the closing documents were signed, I worried most about my kids connecting with other peeps on our block. On paper, the house was perfect, but as a mom, good neighborhood friends were far more important than the bricks and mortar. As it turns out, we hit the cool neighborhood kid jackpot. I could tell early on that this was a good group of kids who knew right from wrong, but it was at my very favorite vessel of truth…the weekend lunch table, where my suspicions were confirmed. The 7+ neighborhood kids that frequent our weekend kitchen lunch table typically show respect and treat each other with kindness (at least while their mouths are full of peanut butter and jelly). Truly though, it’s the belly laughs, the enthusiastic storytelling and overall conversation volume that tells me this group was destined to be together. They may think weekend lunches are only about hanging out with their buddies and getting some grub in their tummies. However, these lunches are something I look forward to all week; I love every minute of them. Looking back on that house hunt seven years ago, we did indeed find a home that has it all. The weekend lunch table tells no lies.
Here we are…those last precious few days of the school year. I’m trying to savor the quiet, relaxing minutes until my kids come home for the summer and the beautiful chaos begins. While summer is my absolute favorite time of year and I love having the kiddos home, there is no doubt my job is more challenging having them around all the time. Refereeing arguments is undoubtedly the hardest part, but entertaining, policing screen time and taxi driving are all close seconds. Camps, sports and friends keep us busy most days, but on our free days it’s always a challenge to fill the time. We’ll often head out to the backyard for some basketball or a game of kickball, or we might pull out some crayons or pop in a favorite DVD. None of those things seem particularly memorable to me, just part of a regular summer day. However, on the last day of summer a couple of years ago, I asked the kids what their favorite memories of that summer were. They started spouting off everything from our great vacation to eating their favorite ice cream down by the lake. What surprised me most was that each one of them added the mundane…our basketball games, the coloring sessions, and our rainy afternoon DVD. I kept an electronic note of that summer list on my phone and added a new list the following year. When I look back at those moments captured on my lists, they bring me true joy. Going into your summer this week, what will end up on your list?