Monday, June 27, 2011

The summer she spent away

While Jennifer may be too young to go to summer camp this year, it seems like she has a “day camp” thing going on. I have noticed how, these days, she is rarely at home – she’s at her friend’s house. Or, friend’s houses. Instead of staying at home during the day, she’s hanging out with friends or with our neighbors.

On one hand, I’m happy she’s turned into such a sociable person. It’s good for her to interact with other people and build her social skills. But on the other hand, I worry. I worry she’ll forget the safety rules we have taught her, or be careless with her personal safety, and something bad might happen. And I worry that all this time she’s spending with her friends means less time with her family.

Still, maybe I shouldn’t complain on that last note. After all, it’s not like her “family time” is suffering. Just yesterday, she went to the park with her dad and little brother and they all played baseball. Then they went out for ice cream. That quality time with family is there.

But is it there enough?

I know, it’s summer. Kids should be allowed to be kids during the summer. They should be riding their bikes, hanging out with their friends and going swimming. They shouldn’t HAVE to spend more time at home or with family. They need to get out and enjoy this break from school. This break from schedules and routines. But quality time with family is just as important during the summer, too. I mean, after all, families go on vacations during the summer. Or check out county fairs and stuff like that. And I keep asking myself, are those two things balanced? Is she spending as much time with her family as she is with her friends?

I’m probably just being neurotic here. I should count my blessings. I’m glad my daughter has so many friends. I’m glad she is able to hang out with her friends and have fun with them. I'm glad she's not such a couch potato during her summer vacation. I’m glad she is safely returning home from her friend’s houses every day – so far.

Maybe she just really needs this time away from family. She needs a break from her brother driving her crazy or her mother suggesting she do just one more page of math problems in her math workbook or her father giving her one job around the house or another. She needs to create some happy summer memories with her friends. Maybe she just needs this.

But we need that family time, too.

I suppose instead of stressing out that she isn’t getting enough of that family time, I should just wing it. Allow her to continue hanging out with her friends so much and grab that family time that includes our daughter whenever it pops up. Summertime is no time for stress, after all. It’s a time for relaxation and going with the flow. So we’ll go with the flow and just enjoy summer.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Some unexpected me time

For the summer, my son Jesse is taking preschool twice a week. I have him there full-time instead of part-time, because I want to “gel into” the full-time schedule since that is what he is going to be signed up for in the fall. Jennifer is not taking summer school this year, but today I had an unexpected surprise: She got to stay at Jesse’s school today.

I was surprised and a little nervous at first. I didn’t know how Jen would take to this “school setting” during what is supposed to be her summer vacation. But, it was only one day out of the week. And she seemed so eager to be there. So I just let that worry go and decided to wait and see how it turned out.

At the same time, I was taken off guard. I’m so used to having at least ONE child home with me every day this summer. Now they were BOTH at summer school!

The shock hit me so much, I actually had to stop walking on my way into the grocery store as I realized ... my children weren’t there.

They were in summer school.

Both of them.

I was ... I was ... (gasp!) ALONE!

I was FREEEE!!!!

Okay, seriously, though. I actually had a hard time accepting this. I kept looking around like they were missing, or something, and I had to find them. It was such a big grocery store, you know. What if they wandered too far? What if a stranger kidnapped them? What if they had wandered out of the store???

But, wait. I had to remind myself. Both kids were in summer school. I did not have one child at home with her father. I did not have one child missing at the store. They were at school. Summer school. Both of them.


And after the shock faded, I started to wonder: What am I going to do with myself??

Well, the OBVIOUS answer is ... WRITE! Write like the wind!

I had already written two articles earlier in the morning, while the children slept. Maybe I’ll write some more!

And ... maybe watch a movie? Read a book? Run some errands?

Instead of making plans, though, I just took the day as it came. Yes, I did write. I worked on the charity ebook. But I also read a crapload of articles on the Internet. Hung out on Facebook. Answered a bunch of emails collecting dust in my inbox. And sent my articles off to an E-zine.

I also FINALLY organized Jesse’s closet, cleaned the bedrooms and did some assorted housekeeping. Took some time to read, sure. The newspaper. ( I read a book AFTER the kids came home. And Jennifer told me she had a great time. Phew!) And I also took care of some financial business over the phone.

In other words, I got quite a bit of stuff done. And even after the kids came home, I got MORE stuff done. Did some book promo and sent off a book review.

The truth is, I can still be productive whether or not the kids are at home. True, I can be MORE productive when they are at school or at a friend’s house. (I just can’t clean Jesse’s room when he is home, though. Because he makes a whole ‘nother toy mess in an area I JUST tidied up right after I tidy it up.) Still, it was nice to get things done without distraction today. Or without worrying about the kids. It was nice.

I hope Jen will be up to visiting the preschool again next week. And I also hope the teacher is ok with that being a “Thursday thing.”

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Girls can play baseball

One of my all-time favorite movies is A League of Their Own. Sure, I like other baseball movies, but League stands out because it’s strictly a girls-baseball movie. We see so many boy-baseball movies, despite some kid movies having girls playing baseball (The Sandlot, for example). But League is definitely The Real Thing when it comes to girls baseball. In League, the women are asked to play baseball because there is a NEED for ballplayers while the men are away at war. However, in real life, this inclusion of girls in baseball has its problems.

Mainly, getting girls INTO baseball teams.

Even though baseball is dominated by boys/men, I have always felt that girls can play this sport, too. Coming from a large family, we often got together to play ball. And none of us girls were EVER told we couldn’t play because it’s a “boy sport.” Girls can play baseball, too!

This is a message I try to pass on to my daughter, Jennifer. She has been playing ball ever since she was old enough to start T-ball. Like me, she loves baseball, and we even play catch or hit the ball around in our yard.

However, sometimes, I have run into problems trying to get Jennifer onto a baseball team.
At Kidsports, where I sign Jen up to play, many staff have seen her gender as “girl” and, instead of placing her into the baseball team, as I requested, they moved her to softball instead. (I never learned of this until after I was notified by email of just how she was registered.) Of course, I’ve had to remedy this myself. Call them, email them, and explain to them that we prefer BASEBALL. Not softball. (Many thanks to Matt Brown for continuously helping me fix this problem when it has come up!)

Every year that Jennifer has played baseball, we’ve enjoyed the excitement, challenges and mystery of each game. She’d attend practices at the fields and we’d practice at home, too. Baseball was the sport we often talked about at home, and there has been a time or two Jennifer has come home from a game shivering or limping. But there’d be a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eyes when she’d inform me, “We won!”

Time and again she has proven that she can play baseball just fine. Of course, being in an all-boy team means she’s had to get used to all the “boy talk” and the ways boys behave – especially around girls. (Surprisingly, though, she and her teammates have gotten along well, and no one has accused the other of having cooties.) I’m proud of the progress she has made in this sport. If she chooses to pursue it again next year, that’s fine. If she chooses not to pursue it again next year, that’s fine, too.

We’ve had some good years playing baseball, as well as some pictures and happy memories to remember those years by.

I am grateful to all the coaches and team players for welcoming Jennifer into a sport that is mostly played by boys.

It’s good to know that other people out there agree that, yes, girls can play baseball, too.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The last week of school

This is the first year I get to see both of my children meet the end of the school year. For Jennifer, it's the end of third grade. For Jesse, it's the end of his first year in preschool. They will be moving on to the next grade and the next year come Fall semester. I am so proud of them both.

Somehow, I think, my children sense that it's high time for school to end. (I have heard that other schools have already released students for summer vacation.) Jennifer has gone into Night Owl Mode -- which is understandable since the days are longer and warmer. Getting up for school in the morning, however, is a big chore. But so far, so good.

As for Jesse, he, too, is ready for some R&R. He will be going to preschool this summer, but not as often as before. I think he'll have some vacation time before the summer semester begins. Overall, though, he's ready to just lounge around at home and get some extra sleep. Can't say that I blame him.

I, too, am ready for another school year to come to an end. It has been a hard year for us in consistently getting Jennifer to school on time, her struggling with her math and failing to meet the requirements to be a TAG (Talented And Gifted) student. (That last part left her crushed.) But we are hopeful things will be better for her next year. She has also complained about being bullied at her school. Thus far, the bullying has not been severe, but I have been keeping tabs on it.

I am also looking forward to getting some extra sleep, too. Time to unleash my inner night owl! No more waking up at 5 a.m. for a couple of months.

Still, it is as though summer vacation has happened already. The kids just want to chill. Get some sleep. I have to keep telling the children "this is the last week of school, let's finish it." They sooo want summer vacation to start up already. And it will, but they just have to wait a teensy tiny bit longer before it does. Just three more days to go and then they'll be free.