Glorious summer is upon us and that means only one thing: We must re-master working at home with the children as they test the strength of the house’s foundation around us. This is our 8th year of surviving such harrowing times. And these are the ways we get by, especially when the authorities aren’t watching:
Here’s what to do: Buy shaving cream in bulk and grant each child one can. Do it with some ceremony. This, after all, is not a toy. It is a no-no, a farce, a whim. Then, put them and their can in the shower stall, pull the drain plug and turn on the water. Pray the foam stays mostly inside the shower curtain and perch your computer on your lap within shouting distance.
This will buy you a good 20 minutes of work time, as well as relatively clean and smooth shaven children.
“What?” one of the mother’s asked Kandy upon hearing of this soon-to-be-patented idea. “Are you kidding me?”
“Sure,” Kandy said, “I let ’em at it until the hot water runs out.” She said this with flair and a fuzzy navel.
“How green of you,” her friend said.
Kandy drank quietly for a moment, shocked at her own environmental unfriendliness, a fact that hadn’t even occurred to her.
“Come summer,” she thought, “I’ll do it in the kiddie pool.”
Fact: The children will not fall asleep until you accidentally do.
The fix: Sleepover in Mom’s room! But forget the sleeping bags. Oh no, this is big time. (Make them) drag their twin mattresses across the house and plop them on the floor next to your bed. The novelty of this setup lasts a good 18-24 hours. Don’t be afraid to put them to bed at 6 p.m. so they can have dinner there, snacks there and hysterics there.
By the time you are ready for bed (let’s face it, 8ish), the children are just hitting their stride. Do you care? No, just sack out on your bed from above, lob a few outlandish threats and let the giggles roll. For once when you fall asleep you won’t have to wake up a half-hour later and walk blindly through the house to your own bed.
They are able to outlast you and do, but you will outlast them in the end, for you have plans for daybreak. They will eat breakfast there and lunch too. By noon, they will have bedsores and be delirious with their cushiony life, unaware that it’s really a prison cell you’ve constructed complete with blankets and somersaults.
By the time they make their jail break, you will have bought yourself a morning of relative privacy — enough time to build a pyramid and return a few hundred emails.
Fact: Children will need you to light a match, take off their training wheels or find a beige Lego in your sandstone carpeting the minute you have a complete thought.
The fix: Don’t let them derail you. Give them just enough to get by. We just saw an award-winning video on Facebook posted by our friend Angeline Piotrowski, director of the Mom & Pop Club of the Traverse Bay Area. The video showed her two sons riding their Big Wheels… with sand pails on their heads for helmets.
This woman was obviously taking a phone call from, or emailing with, the president. We admire her for her clarity and focus in their time of need. Well done, Angeline, well done.
And this is how we spend our summers, keeping the kids happy and the work flowing. All while trying to be a few hundred places at once. And we hope you, too, have a delightful crafty and crazy summer with the kiddos around!