But this summer, the kids are older and more independent. They play Star Wars in the playroom for hours. Catie can lifeguard the pool. They are old enough to claim they’re bored but also mature enough to get absorbed in the craft projects they used to ignore.
Our Big Kid Summer has been several seasons, all smushed together like a big bag of marshmallow fun. Even though each marshmallow is delicious and a treat by itself, every one also looks a lot like the marshmallows squeezed up next to it.
June was a season of crazy busyness. This was the month of really early swim practices and day-long swim meets. Our kids burned hundreds of calories in the pool before eight in the morning.
Unfortunately we still had the whole day left with nothing to do. Not wanting to bring a bunch of wired and tired kids home for the next twelve hours, we went to camps. The kids did it all—high-energy Pine Cove camps, all-day VBSs, and our old church’s sweet camps about Jesus.
This swimming+plus+camp schedule would’ve worn out a litter of puppies. We left home at seven in the morning to BE ACTIVE the whole day. This season taught the kids how to pack the van for a day of activities. It also taught them what wet bathing suits smell like after sitting in a hot minivan for six hours.
July, the travel season, was important for the lessons we learned. Actually we only learned one important lesson: book ahead.
We first learned this when our family loaded up the (slightly musty) minivan and headed to Mike’s parents’ cabin in Nebraska. After a week of lake living, we swung by Minnesota to see my family, including my grandpa in a nursing home.
It takes about 21 hours to drive from Minnesota to TX. We discovered somewhere around Kansas our plan to find a hotel from the road was not a good one. Apparently other families of six travelling with their two dogs had snatched up the available hotel rooms. We ended up driving all night, only to spend the next week trying to recover the lost sleep.
Strangely, even after this experience, we still didn’t learn our lesson about booking ahead. The next weekend, the kids went to sleepaway camp for a few days. Mike’s parents watched Nate so Mike and I could have a little getaway together. We both must have assumed the other one would book a fantastic resort, but neither of us actually did it. For our big romantic getaway, we ended up at a hippie campground by Lake Travis, sleeping in a little hut crawling with ants.
On the bright side, the kids at camp stayed in cute climate-controlled cabins with very few ants. We all missed each other, and it was a happy reunion when our family was together again.
Now we’re in August, the season of being done with summer but still sucking the life out of it. Our family is both asking what happened to the past ten weeks and trying to remember what school is like.
Last week we spent something like six zillion dollars at the uniform store. Today we walked around OfficeMax for two hours, trying to find over one hundred individual school supplies. Tomorrow is shoe shopping. If summer is a bag of marshmallows, school is a bowl of oatmeal—and its blandness is what we all probably need.
During these last few weeks, our kids are applying the lessons they’ve learned before they step into their new classrooms.
The Summer of 2014 taught us to prepare the best we can—and then, prepare a little more. This summer taught us to balance the chaos with lazy days together. And most importantly, this summer taught us family time always feels the most right.