I am new to the whole summer break thing. My kids are only 2 and barely 5, so they’re very young and haven’t been in school very long. They were both in preschool this past year, and every Tues/Thurs (pause: 2-year old is yelling “it spilled! It spilled! It spilled!” in the other room), I had a solid 3 1/2 hours alone. The other days of the week, I had only one child.
So to go from any alone-time at all to nearly no alone time was a big transition – for all of us. My boys are enrolled in a summer camp, which Evan (2) can’t start till he’s three, and Andrew is enrolled two days a week. It's been two weeks now, so we are pretty well adjusted, but here's how the first Tuesday went.
Actually, let me back up for a moment. Andrew LOVED his preschool teachers this year and his classmates, too. He’s really come out of his shell this year and has enjoyed going to school every single day.
Evan went through a phase for a few weeks of crying when being dropped off at school, and then Andrew caught the “I miss you” bug and started doing the same (once Evan was, once again, okay with going to school).
So for the last two weeks of school, I left a crying, screaming boy with his very patient teachers, and felt the grip of guilt tearing into my stomach as he hollered “I just want to give you one more kiss!” (note: this was after giving him two or three “last” kisses) until I was in the parking lot closing my car door.
Now that you’re up to date, here’s what happened a couple of weeks ago, the day before camp started.
“I don’t want to go to summer camp,” Andrew says a million times. I feel terrible that he’s experiencing anxiety at the age of 5. Isn’t anxiety reserved for adults? I try calming him with things like, “The only thing you need to think about at camp is having fun!” but he insists that he will miss me too much and think about me the whole time.
So we get into the car to go to camp on Tuesday, and Andrew starts crying as he’s buckling himself into his car seat. “I don’t want to go to summer camp. I’m going to miss you! Why can’t I just stay with you!?”
(Some of you reading this might be asking the question, “why didn’t you just let him stay home!” but I really believe that that would have been worse for him. I want him to face his fears so he realizes that things aren’t as bad as they seem, allowing him to grow as a confident person who says to himself, “I did it! I was really okay!”)
So I finally leave camp after his scream fit that has all the kids and staff staring and drive a half hour with Evan to run an errand. The drive there is fine. The drive back is not. Somehow the sunscreen I put on his face an hour beforehand starts dripping into his eyes, and he goes crazy. Poor guy. I feel for him, I really do. But I’m driving on the freeway with very little access to needed water and towels. In fact, all I have are wipes (which of course are out of the question) and a single napkin leftover from a drive-thru meal (gross, I know).
So Evan is screaming all the way home. The entire drive. We finally get home and I flush his eyes out with water, and with the offer of a popsicle, he’s instantly fine.
An hour later, I get a call from the summer camp. Andrew has had sunscreen in his eyes since he got there and has been crying on and off since then. Poor kid. He was already upset just being there, and he stayed in a little room with a very nice camp counselor the entire time.
I pick him up, we head home. That night, I go to bed and wake up to Evan crawling into our bed as he does every night (don’t worry, we started breaking that habit last night). He’s crying, rolling around, taking up the whole bed, until he wraps his arms around my face and I realize how hot his skin is. I pick him up, search the house for any kind of fever-reducer I might have, and low and behold, there’s one bottle of Children’s IB Profin with about three drops left in it.
I walk back into our bedroom to tell hubby I’m heading to the 24-hour CVS to get some IB Profin, and as we walk into the bedroom, me holding Evan, he pukes all over my back. It was warm and projectile and a little smelly. Hubby holds Evan while I venture out at 4 a.m. In my half-awake state of mind, it takes me about 10 minutes longer than it should have to find the 24-hour CVS on my phone. I finally find it.
I drive to the store, walk around and find everything I need, including some diapers (he’s totally potty-trained by day, bed-wetter at night). The lady at the register asks me (keep in mind, I’m in my pjs, messy hair, 4 a.m., buying baby medicine and diapers) and she asks “Would you like to sign up for our CVS card?”
I get home to find Evan and hubby passed out on our bed. No more throwing up, thank God. I notice Evan is wet and reach for a new diaper only to realize I bought size 2. He wears size 6. I hold it up and recall the days of newborn before letting out an exhausted sigh. Thanks goodness for the spares I keep in the car. I venture outside once again, into the dark to fetch a diaper, and crawl back into bed.
Our dog keeps me up the rest of the night going outside to chew on grass because his stomach hurts.
The next day, I’m exhausted. And so is Evan. So he’s fussy ALL DAY LONG. My stomach is hurting ALL DAY LONG because I’ve caught the tummy bug he has. I’m tired, irritable, and well, that’s the gist of the day.
Then there’s today. I go to my morning job, which is setting up a jewelry store for a jeweler right down the street (more on that later). Hubby had a morning meeting so I take the boys with me. I’m carefully and meticulously putting jewelry (beautiful, fine, fragile jewelry!) in their places, and the boys are fighting over a game I brought, complaining about how long it’s taking, whining constantly, etc. (They were great last week when I brought them!)
I even incentivized the morning with a trip to an indoor playground called Funbelievable, which they love! Nope, didn’t work.
So we leave the jewelry store and they’re crying all the way home (it’s only a mile away, but it felt like 10 miles). “Where are we going? Why aren’t we going to Funbelievable? Why do you never take us anywhere fun!?” they ask the whole drive home. I would have just taken them home and kept them there all day, but that would have forced me to check into a mental institution.
The only reason we went home in the first place was because I forgot their shoes in the mad rush to get out the door. On the way home, Evan is carrying a hissing beetle he found more than a week ago which has since died and turned into frail, nearly-crumbling, dried-out remains of an insect, broke in half. He freaks out. I’m talking about a scream that sounded like he was getting murdered. “My bug broke in half!!!” I finally make out in the middle of his scream-cries.
Oh, God no, anything but that! I think.
He cries all the way home and I tell him daddy will glue the bug’s butt back on when he gets home from work. That wasn’t good enough. Crocodile tears, sincere cries continue.
“Okay, I’ll glue it back on when we get home,” and he’s satisfied. So this morning, I’m gluing the ass of a dead beetle back onto its decaying body. Awesome.
After that, I decide we’re going to drop our library books off and get some new ones. We pull into the parking lot and the boys start fighting again, so I pull out of the parking lot and they ask over and over, “where are we going! Why aren’t we going to the library!?”
"Because you won’t stop fighting!" I say/nearly yell.
They’re bummed, of course, but they move on quickly. I think they’re finally figuring out that bad behavior takes away all good things! So we drive to the carwash, grab some lunch, and later in the afternoon, I get the boys back into the car to head to a 3:30 park play (which has been planned for more than a week).
I load the boys up at 3:15 and can’t find my keys. I frantically search the house until 3:45 (they were actually pretty good most of that time), and still can’t find them. I’ve looked everywhere. I’ve torn up the couch, searched the backyard, dumped out my purse, circled the house and yard about 10 times. My neighbor gets home, sees my frustration, comes over, and when I tell him my keys are missing, he says, “Andrew, are you sitting on them?” “No, mommy checked,” he said. And then the light bulb goes off. I didn’t check under Evan’s bottom. Sure enough, there they were.
We get to the park. I meet up with the moms while the kids play, and Andrew is on a spinning toy thing going round and round and round until he comes over to me and says his tummy and mouth feel funny. The other moms watch Evan and I take Andrew to the disgusting bathroom where he pukes in the toilet. We stay in there for a good 15 minutes while he decides if he is going to puke again. He finally decides no.
We get in the car, leave, and realize as we’re pulling onto our street that I left my sunglasses and completely broken airplane at the park (a toy that Evan would be devastated over losing). We go back. The items are still there. We get home and I call hubby. I sound a bit strange on the phone because I’m laughing in a weird, is-this-week-ever-going-to-end kind of way, and he asks, “Have you been drinking?”
(Note: It's been a couple of weeks since then, and things are great now. In fact, my boys are I are really enjoying the summer, taking advantage of all this free play-time. Just glad we made it through that first week!)