Summer Standards

Summers are supposed to be relaxing. They probably are for my kids, who don’t have to go to school, but I still have a full time job, so not only do I have to figure out how to amuse my kids, I also have to work. That’s not to say I don’t relax in the summer. I do. I relax my standards.

From the time school lets out to Labor Day, my standards go downhill faster than the Jamaican bobsled team. We say farewell to nutritionally balanced breakfasts and lunches. By the end of the summer my children are subsisting on whatever they can scavenge from the pantry and refrigerator. Their meals sound like an episode of “Chopped.” Our normally rigorous schedule of bathing and sleeping has gone mostly out the window (bedtime gets a little more attention because by the end of the day I’m ready for them to enter a state in which they are unable to talk to me for twenty minutes at a time about Minecraft or Boom Beach). My once-reasonably-neat home bears close resemblance to a condemned building, and probably isn’t far from actually being condemned, if anyone were to call the City and report our squalid conditions.

To illustrate the contrast, I offer the following examples:

Last Week of School: “You need to eat something real for breakfast even if it's just a Nutrigrain bar.”
Last Week of July: “There are some Tostitos in the pantry if you decide you want breakfast.”

Last Week of School: “Showers on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. No exceptions.”
Last Week of July: “I think you need a shower. Wait, you went in the pool three days ago? Eh, that counts.”

Last Week of School: “You need to have a vegetable with that.”
Last Week of July: “Sure, lemonade counts as fruit.”

Last Week of School: “Dirty clothes go in the hamper in the laundry room.”
Last Week of July: “Dirty clothes go…oh, screw it, who cares?”

Last Week of School: “Thirty minutes of computer time, ONLY.”
Last Week of July: “Just be sure you stop and go to the bathroom now and then. I don’t want to have to treat you for a UTI.”

Last Week of School: “Twenty minutes of reading every day.”
Last Week of July: “Sure, reading the ingredients on the yogurt cup counts as reading.”

Last Week of School: “Time to do your chores; here are your chore lists.”
Last Week of July: “I guess we can go another day without vacuuming. That biggest wad of hair is the dog, right?”

Last Week of School: “The television doesn’t go on until 6 p.m.”
Last Week of July: “Whatever. I don’t care. Yeah, you can watch television.”

As you can see, I grow lax and careless as time goes by. I’ll rein them back in when we get closer to school starting, and my rules and routines will be fully back in force by September, when they’ll need the structure to get them out the door on time, and get homework done. But in the meantime, things are pretty laid back, and that’s really what summer is all about. Now if my boss’s standards would just lower to meet mine we’d be all set.


Head Games

One of my boys ended up in Urgent Care last week. He had a gash across his forehead that required three stitches. He’s fine. This is not our first head wound rodeo. I have three boys, so head wounds are kind of a trend. All three of them have now had one, and the one last week was round two for that kid. Right now we’re two for two on a plain old accident versus a really stupid choice.

The very first one was an accident. One kid slipped and hit the back of his head on the corner of the wall. That was my first experience with a head wound, and holy shit. In case you’re not aware, when you gash your head, it bleeds like a stuck pig. It’s incredible. My husband was standing patiently over me while I sat with the kid in my lap, bathing in his blood, completely freaking out.

“You have to calm down,” he kept saying.

“Are you kidding me? This kid looks like he’s going to need a transfusion in about three minutes, and you want me to calm down??”

Since my husband is a) a boy, and b) an Eagle Scout, he knew about the bleeding. He’s also far less inclined to flip out over things that have to do with the kids than I am. He told me later he was prepared to take the kid to Urgent Care if it hadn’t stopped bleeding when it did.

The next time someone came to me gushing blood from his head I managed to keep my cool. We were at the softball field watching my husband’s men’s league game. The kids were off playing. My oldest was about six, and I turned around to see him walking toward me with a wave of blood flowing down his face and dripping off his nose. Because he knew there was something going on, but couldn’t tell what, he had his brow furrowed in a way that made it appear that he had a six inch gash across his forehead. As calmly as I could, I grabbed a napkin and a bottle of water, and wiped the blood off so I could see the actual injury.

There were three small nicks, the largest of which was the size of the head of a pin along his hair line. When I asked him how it happened, he said they were throwing rocks up in the air, and watching them fall back down again.

“Next time maybe take a step to the left after you throw them up,” I suggested.


The next accident occurred at a family Christmas celebration. It was about three days after Christmas, and we were at my aunt’s house. The kids were out back playing, running races back and forth across her patio. One of the twins got to the “finish line” and his brother somehow managed to shove him, causing him to sit down hard and whack his head against a concrete planter. The result was the expected fountain of blood. He got a staple and some ice cream.

All of which brings us to the other night. Again, the scene of the crisis was the same softball field, and again, there was a rock involved. This time, however, it was one of the twins and his sister, playing with one of their friends. They were playing War. And throwing rocks at each other. Because of course they were. I got a call from my husband to come get my daughter so he could take our son to Urgent Care. The result was three stitches. And ice cream, of course.

I’m sure this isn’t the end of our relationship with Urgent Care. I think we have a few more years before they’re past the point where they’ll throw rocks and end up with head wounds. Yes, I’d like to think they’ve learned that throwing rocks = blood = stitches, but these are boys. Lessons like these are learned slowly.