Summertime…and the Livin’ Ain’t Easy

by

Ah, summertime… The long, warm days! The weekend BBQs! The kids coming inside to tattle on each other every five minutes and argue about who gets which lightsaber!

I admit it. I was so looking forward to the end of the school year. I was tired of making lunches. I was tired of helping with homework. Mostly I was just tired, and I couldn’t wait to sleep in past 6:30 a.m. The thing is, I forgot that when school is out, the kids are always around. Emphasis on always. And when you’re a work-from-home writer like myself, this can get old pretty darn quick.

The first couple weeks of summer vacation we were actually on vacation, road-tripping throughout the southeast and visiting my sister in Florida. You would think that being stuck inside my Hyundai with the kids all day and then at night in the hotel for two whole weeks would’ve been a taxing experience. But it turned out to be a wonderful time and the kids were very well-behaved. (I can’t say the same about myself.)

Then we got back home, and it was back to the daily grind, so to speak. This is when the trouble began.

The first couple hours of the morning are great. I get up around 7:30, 8-ish, go for a nice run, and then enjoy a cup of coffee on the porch before heading to my desk to begin the day’s work. Meanwhile, my wife goes up to her office to work, my son chills out on the sofa watching cartoons, and my daughter sleeps in until 10:30 or so. It’s a quiet, peaceful type of morning that is very much different than the rushed and chaotic mornings of the school year.

Unfortunately, we can’t just let them sleep and watch TV all day long (Can we?), so we tell them to turn off the tube, get some breakfast, do their chores, and then get the heck outside, where, hopefully, they will leave my wife and I alone to get some work done.

Yeah, right.

Take today, for example. Everything seemed to be going smoothly as the kids went outside to play with their lightsabers and toy guns. Next thing I know, The Animal comes back in the house and into my office, bawling because his sister took one of his beloved cap guns when it was his intention to play with both of them.

After summoning Boogieface into the house and trying unsuccessfully to arbitrate the toy-gun situation, I gave up and told them to go off and settle it by themselves (a favorite tactic of my wife’s which almost never works).

There was more fighting and whining and crying, of course, but I did my best to ignore it and continue hacking away at my daily workload.

Next thing I know the toy-gun fiasco is over and the two of them are on the front porch playing LEGOs like best friends. Kids—go figure. The peace, however, did not last. Minutes later my son once again comes in crying to me. “Daddy…[sniff, sniff] I went to her pet store [sniff, sniff] and I wanted to buy the fox [sniff, sniff] but she wouldn’t let me buy the fox!”

How tragic.

Once again I try to intervene. “Com’on, Boogs, can’t you just let him buy the fox for goodness sake?”

“But, Daddy!” she cried. “The fox isn’t for sale—he’s my pet!””

Seeing that the situation is hopeless, once again I just try to ignore it and go back to work. But the arguing and crying continues until I can take no more. Suddenly I’m stomping out on the porch and making outlandish proclamations:

“That’s it! I’ve had it! The two of you aren’t allowed to play with each other anymore!” Then I send them to different sides of the porch and stomp back into the house, dreaming of the good old days (three weeks ago) when I actually had a little peace and quiet.

Gradually things do quiet down and I can hear the kids whispering to each other as they go back to playing nicely. Then I hear another kid’s voice. Then another. Our house, you see, has become the de facto meeting place for all the neighborhood kids, thanks in part to the box of old lightsabers I won on some local online auction. So now everyday there’s a huge, neighborhood Jedi battle in my yard. And, honestly, I don’t really mind.

I am a little jealous, though.

Yes, summer can be a trying time for stay-at-home moms and dads. Still, I’d still rather have to deal with all the interruptions and crying and mess than try to figure out some inexplicable 2nd-grade math problem.

Solo camping in Maine would be even better. ~

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Copyright © 2016 Valentine J. Brkich

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