Posted on June 24th, 2013
une means having the same conversation over and over again.
Not that October doesn’t mean that, let me be clear. The difference during the summer months is that there are no breaks, no pauses in my ongoing dialogue with The Three to allow me the comforting illusion that we are addressing different issues every day.
When school is in session, I pack them off for a six-hour period of separation where they live their lives out of my sight. This isn’t a bad thing. Under the tutelage of responsible, engaged adults who are not myself, the children are exposed to a variety of interests and emphases that are also not mine. Best of all, I like to think that these teachers and mentors don’t have the same bugs up their butt that I do, that the things that make these adult ‘others’ in my children’s lives crazy are a completely different than the ones that turn me squinty-eyed and lock-jawed.
At breakfast this morning, I realized that I was about to embark on a lecture about the reasonable speed at which one consumes any sort of grilled breakfast bread with syrup. It would be the second time in 24 hours that I would be opening my mouth to impart the same counsel I had shared over a pancakes the day before. The only difference was that now my child was eating a French toast special in public.
“But I’m so hungry!” I was told by way of explanation.
Just like yesterday.
Twelve years ago, I remember feeding my one tiny child and thinking how, well, boring it was (you can read more about what 12-year-old Marcel thinks is boring here). I’m just trying to tell you the truth about myself. I fed my son and I thought, ‘This is not something he can do for himself—this won’t be anything he can do for himself for, like, years. How am I going to spoon food into this child’s mouth, three times a day, for the next year or so?’
Summer is like that for me. Without the ability to enjoy a few hours of forgetfulness from elements of my work with them (I have a blessedly short memory—there might even be a diagnosis there but who cares?), I am confronted with the hamster wheel-repetitiveness of it. If I’ve been made entirely sick of the sound of my own voice when I’ve only issued the same edicts twice, how can my children not be? And how impactful do I really expect any of the things I say to be when this is the case?
I have written about the value of looking at something closely for the benefit that comes from knowing it for what it is, but I am just as convinced that imagination has its place in a life well and joyfully lived. Pretending you didn’t just see that thing happen again can be priceless, creating room for error and experimentation and entire 10-minute stretches free from parental interventions and edicts of questionable import.
Summer helps me see that most clearly.∗