Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Camp Report

After a week of being a single-child family, Mike drove up and retrieved our other one on Friday, and now we're back to the two-child dynamic ("It's not fair that HE gets a sleepover and I don't" "Hey! You guys went to Starbucks! No fair!" "Silas is being MEAN to me!" "Helen won't stop BOTHERING me!" et cetera et cetera ad infinitum tunc nauseam) (incidentally the online English-to-Latin translator I chose is so slow I suspect that it is an unpaid intern in a cubicle, looking up the word in her Cassel's Latin dictionary). I was hoping that it would make it easier to cook dinner, what with no longer having to admire and comment on every single voluntary muscle movement of my daughter, but it really just changed the issue from one of having to provide continual fawning attention to having to provide continual mediation when one party requests fawning attention and the other party brutally declines to provide said service.

This is why having siblings is good for the character. Or this is what I tell myself as I rush down to the basement to break up another sobbing screaming fight. Over whether or not a certain Lego person is allowed to wear hair.

It does make dinner preparation more difficult.

By the time he got to me, Si had been asked how he liked camp so many times that he just kind of shrugged, but overall I suspect he had an awesome time and that he may have even found his medium, so to speak. His metier? Whatever it is when you find the place you're supposed to be. An abundance of scheduled, organized activities in which you can subtly show off without being the center of attention or having to really exude effort: that's my boy.

While his first day home he was noticeably more cheerful and polite, as though, I may have audibly hoped, he was actually well-mannered and behaved at camp and got into the habit of being so, by Monday it had worn off and he was argumentative and bossy as before. "What time are YOU going to bed, Mom? Isn't that pretty late? You know you need your sleep, and ten-thirty is pretty late."

This is less charming in person than it sounds on the screen and given that it is generally in reponse to a mild reminder to turn off his light soon comes across as a version of you're not the boss of me, mom. Two can play this "it's your bedtime" game, you know.

Summer continues apace. I am trying to ensure that we engage in iconic summer activities, such as popsicle making, that we did not manage to do last summer due to the kitchen's imminent demise. Right now it's really a race between iconic summer and weed growth, though, as every time I settle in to help with an activity I glance up and notice that the weeds in the backyard are closer to the door and are they supposed to be snarling like that? and have to rush out and yank some up lest they think they can just take over with no struggle at all.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday Favorites: Rain

Let me try to resuscitate my regular Friday thing here with this tribute to rain, which I love, although we have been receiving it in quantities and velocities that I find it harder to appreciate.

My favorite things about rain:

1. The smell. Of course. Although it turns out that if it rains every day and every night for a week and a half, the smell is less "fresh pine forest" than "underside of mushroom."

2. The way it makes the yard grow and grow and grow. All our plants are bounding forth from the earth, in startling abundance.

3. The sheer awesome power of a deluge. I mean, even if I am kind of horrified at how the water is pooling up and washing away (goodbye, landscaping! Goodbye, compost! Goodbye, woodchips! Goodbye, edges!), it's still one heck of a show, these afternoon storms we've been having. Every morning brings its own surprise (wow! I didn't think that the puddles would reach that high!)

4. Sitting in the house/office/car and feeling smugly appreciative of modern systems of enclosure.

5. The excuse to bring a child into bed, just like the old days. When they were smaller. And fit in the bed. This one is kind of double-edged.

6. The inexplicable way it makes the end of the world feel farther off (in contrast to drought, which makes the end of the world feel right on our doorstep).

All said, I'm still crossing my fingers that today's the day we get NO rain.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Now with photos

Apparently it's been too much to write a post AND upload photos, so here are the photos from the last two posts:

From camping:

Si with fish (Helen, seeing the photo: "And you didn't KEEP it?!")

The kids did some archery at the campsite, too.

Helen wants her own bow.

The next weekend (note: meaning we've gone up into the mountains three weekends in a row, a delight I did not think was possible) we dropped Si off at camp:

It was a little bleak.
But not too bad.

Monday, July 11, 2011

What is UP with me lately

The rain. The rain is what is up with me. I get that rain is good, that I haven't had to water the lawn in over a week and hurrah and, furthermore, it will end as all weather things do and we will go back to all dry all the time and also HOT. (Okay, we are in fact back to HOT). But: the rain messed up my weekend, and I am NOT HAPPY. Specifically, the rain made a perfectly easy and sensible project, painting (some more of) the house, suck all of the non-accounted-for time out of Sat & Sun. To wit: Sunday I woke up and prepared myself for my weekly long run, as is my wont. Except that as I was tying my shoes and otherwise puttering toward Start, I happened to get that itchy, let's-think-about-those-clouds-and-how-they-might-impact-my-plans feeling, and that feeling led to a decision to switch the order of things, from run-then-paint to pain-then-run, which was fine, except that the paint part ended up taking up all of the paint and run time...and I guess maybe what I'm really mad about is the painting.

Augh will I be glad when the painting of the house is fini. It seems like it is neverENDING.

The other reason I felt a little pressed for time on Sunday was that we had to leave after lunch to bring Si up to his first-ever overnight camp. One of his best friends is also attending (they're sharing a bunk bed, in fact), and they've got about a million fun things scheduled, from baseball to archery to rain to canoeing to campout night to rain to horseback riding, and fun counselors that actually seem focused and attentive, like they might remember his name--but I still said, as we drove away, that I was SO VERY GLAD that my own personal days of sleepover camp are over. It just...has that overtone of bleakness. The too-hot, slightly mac-and-cheese-smelling dining hall. The bare-bones cabin with the plastic mattresses. The cabins that used to be snugly nestled in a cool pine forest but now, thanks to pine beetles and blowdown, are scattered across a bare, stump-studded field.

Si was enthusiastic about it, though, or at least a good sport, and by the time we'd gone back to the car and returned with his Harry Potter book he was deep in a game with his friend and barely looked up to say goodbye. So that's all good (but I will be glad to have him home, and to have school back in session and everybody in their place and predictable while I'm at work).

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

In defense of fireworks

We'd planned to go backpacking over the holiday weekend but at the last minute couldn't bear the amount of packing that would have to occur, not to mention the drive, the food planning, and etc. Fortunately, though, Si had a backup plan in reserve (and fortunately for family harmony we decided to accept his plan; whoo boy is the kid a planner/control freak). In brief: Saturday camping; buy fireworks on the way home Sunday; Sunday evening dinner-fireworks-sleepover with friend TBA; Monday attend the real fireworks at Cornerstone Park. The friend TBA didn't quite work out, but luckily we had Cousin instead and we spent Sunday evening sitting in lawn chairs and watching the boys light brightly packaged gunpowder on the street in front of us (and having our eardrums strained alternately by the fireworks and by Helen's delighted screaming). Monday morning bright and early we got the hand-delivered neighborhood newsletter, which of course had as its very first item the reminder that in our city fireworks are illegal, punishable by a $1000 fine. The second thing I noticed was that the hand-deliverer would have had to walk past the pile of discarded fireworks trash left prominently at the end of our driveway. I may have muttered an annoyed imprecation about how the last ones to come inside could have cleaned up a little and what the hell were they thinking. I may also have cursed the fact that I married a man who likes fireworks and produced a child who also likes fireworks.

But then I readjusted and set my grumbling on the proper target: the anti fireworks brigade.

Before I begin, let me emphasize: I do not like fireworks. If I were a single parent, my children would have to content themselves with the state-sanctioned event at the park on the 4th of July.

But. I'm not a single parent, and furthermore, I happen to have a child who loves fire, explosions, and busting stuff up. These are mighty powerful urges and I'm starting to learn that growing up, and teaching a child how to grow up, involves learning how to channel powerful urges in socially acceptable ways. Duh. And I'm going to submit that option A, the option provided by the City and County and not least by our neighborhood nagging association--namely, that all urges are bad and should be vigorously stifled--is not productive.

I'm not going to argue with the City and County bans, which are based on the need to prevent massive grass fires and barn burnings and teenage maimings and blindings (although I'll point out that there are plenty of dangerous-but-fun/useful things that we DO manage to monitor and accomodate instead of ban, like swimming and driving and GUN OWNERSHIP FOR THE LOVE OF PETE) (also that the ban extends to sparklers).

Nope. I'm going to go after the neighborhood ban, which seems to be based mostly on "OMG they're so annoying" and "don't you know those are against the RULES?" These statements are both true, of course, but if we're going to be cracking down on annoying things, I'd like to point out that I find sparsely-planted geraniums VERY annoying, and also the widespread use of broadleaf herbicide. But nobody's going after those practices.

And, okay, 1-am firecrackers are their own special brand of annoying. Even 9:30-pm firecrackers are more annoying than geraniums. But it's like when the neighborhood nagging association lobbied (successfully, unfortunately) to curtail the post-school gathering of teens in the local playground: people, a community is for everyone. Not just the quiet types who prefer to stay indoors or take a brief constitutional walk in the open air. If you have teenagers in your community, and thank god we do, you're going to need to accomodate their desire to congregate and engage in loud and annoying behavior. Ideally, you're going to do that while teaching them how to be loud and aggregated without starting in on self-destructive and criminal behavior.

Likewise, we have a lot of explosion-loving people in our neighborhood (like, you know, BOYS.) I'd like to see us (read: YOU, neighborhood nagging association) come up with a way to help them indulge their explosion urges while learning how to be relatively safe and courteous about it. That's hard to do if the only option is "no. Also no, and no. And don't even THINK about poppers."

For me, I do this by sitting tolerantly in a lawn chair while my beloved coaches my other beloveds in the safe(ish) use of fireworks, and only wincing sometimes. And then making my beloved child go out there early the next morning and clean up the mess.

And yes, you might make the argument that if I didn't have an explosion-loving boy, I would probably be more-or-less in the anti-firework camp. But even then I'd still argue for the need to be a little more tolerant of non-toe-the-line activities.

Because otherwise, I might be tempted to get there and ban badly planted geraniums.