a classic!

a classic!

T

his is going to be our summer,” I told my friend conspiratorially.

We were talking yesterday about teaching our children to do for themselves, to help out around the house wherever a need has been identified—or when Mommy looks like she’s sweating through her shirt for the second time that day from all of her repetitive bustling, whichever. When my friend and I spoke, I was feeling especially optimistic. Marcel had just emptied the dishwasher! Peaches put capers and olives into the chicken dish we’d had for dinner! Roy had made Father’s Day pancakes for the dad who lives next door (not his own, but whatever)!

We had embarked upon the golden road toward self-sufficiency, The Three and me. There would be no turning back.

Peaches likes to say that she and her brothers can be of service around the house just like the little bunnies are to their mother, Country Bunny, in the perennial Easter favorite—and darling, pint-sized feminist tract—The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes. When their mother is selected for one of the coveted Easter Bunny positions (she was fast enough to get the job because she’d been chasing those 21 babies around, true story), the little bunnies each assume a set of duties their mother customarily performs while she is working. One makes the beds, one sweeps, one draws pictures.

You get the idea.

Then today I was out back, hanging things out to dry, and I noticed the tin can. There it was, dangling over the wall that separates our yard from that of our neighbors, presumably still attached to a second tin can. I’d forgotten all about it. At some point, Roy and his friend had jury-rigged an iconic tin can telephone to communicate to one another whenever they wished. I stood there staring at it and wondering not so much at its reappearance but at just how long it had been since they’d strung it there the first time, and I couldn’t remember but I knew this much: it had been years.

In that instant, I thought about just how many summers I’ve had with my children and how many more remain in something like the state we currently find ourselves in—together and under one roof—and I felt that tightness in my chest, the one that comes with a looming deadline or too many unfinished projects. The idea that Marcel emptying a dishwasher (while asking repeatedly the entire time why he must do something so soul-crushingly boring) could inspire such hubris in me, thinking our little band could be well on our way to mastering any responsibilities whatsoever, speaks volumes about the hope we parents have in our own ability to equip our children as best we’re able for their lives beyond us.

I do not know if this will be ‘our summer’. It is one of them. Self-sufficiency will likely be a work in progress even when they leave us and I am raising bunnies more likely to draw pictures than to make the bed. You should know that I still hold out hope that there’s time for them to grow up to do both; we have a few summers left.