Friday, June 6, 2008

Summer Update

So far, this summer is off to a great start. Spending each entire day with my two kids for the very first time is something for which I am very grateful. Granted, it's not their first summer in existence, in fact, it is their collective 5th summer as siblings, but it IS their first summer with me on a regular basis. In previous summers, they have always preferred to stay at their maternal grandmother's house during the day, as she has been taking care of them before and after school since they were born. This has worked out rather well, since I wanted nothing to do with them (just kidding,) but since I've had so many projects to do for other people on my "off" time, that THEY have wanted nothing to do with ME during their summer breaks. Staying with their "Grammy" also meant that I could operate my power saws without trying to keep track of where they ran off to with their ears covered.

This summer, though, I've decided to commit my time to building a relationship with them, rather than building things for other people. So far, after only a week, I can say that we all are having a good time and are learning to appreciate each other.

So of what does our day consist? You might think it's all fun and games: breakfast at Denny's, Slip 'n' Slides, lunch at Chuck E. Cheeses, playing in the park, flying a kite, sliding down slides, and chocolate ice cream for dinner. But . . . you'd be entirely wrong. In fact, the activities in which we all undertake are more compulsory and necessary, and perhaps even a little painful.

While getting my allergy shots this morning, I realized that, although getting the shots was not something I especially wanted to get, seeing as how I had to schedule a trip to the office and get a needle poked into each of my massive (compared to a piece of angel hair pasta) triceps, they were necessary. Without them, I sneeze so much that I'm always at risk of slipping in my own snot as I walk. Gross, not to mention embarrassingly gross. I compare my summer with my kids to getting those allergy shots.

If you ask the kids what they're doing with their dad this summer, they'll tell you with a straight face (they know the beatings will ensue otherwise) everything in minute detail. As you hear them describe their regimented schedule, you might get a look on your face as if you had just eaten a rotten lemon covered with expired goat's milk, or you might pick up the receiver and begin dialing Child Protective Services (EVERYONE should have that number memorized!) But know that the look of lukewarm excitement on their faces is 100% genuine and authentic, and not a result of some anticipated negative consequence (unless you count "not eating" as a bad thing.)

So what DO we do? Well, the kids are up each morning between 6:30 and 7:00am at the latest, which means they actually get to sleep in, since I typically drop them off at their aforementioned grandmother's house at 5:50 am each school day. In fact, they wake up entirely on their own. It has nothing to do with the bucket of cold water thrown upon them during their peaceful slumber. Blame it on the ice, not me! Once their up, they use the bathroom then don their "moisture-wicking," "high-tech," running garb. That's right! They are getting dressed to go exercise, but don't fear, I have purchased nothing but the best outfits for them in many matching colors and configurations (if that's what you can call burlap sacks with head and arm holes cut into them.)

By 7:30 each morning, we're either at the high school track doing Disney Endurance Training (running and walking at least two miles,) at the H.E.B. soccer fields doing interval training (running sprints up and down the length of the field,) or at the Gruene Road trail zig-zagging around a winding path while picking up pecans, snail shells, and other garbage. This lasts for about 45 minutes, or until the kids puke or pass out. Once they drink their water and Gatorade (only the BEST for them,) were back at the house taking showers and getting ready for our 9:00 event: HOMEWORK WITH DADDY!!!

For 90 minutes, we all partake in working math problems, reading passages and answering questions, practicing our handwriting, or coloring (using proper shading, or course.) This is actually a time the kids look forward to . . . . as they are NOT RUNNING!!! Besides, they know that once this time is over, they get "free time" until lunch at noon, and by "free time," I mean time they can spend doing things that I tell them to do, such as NOT RUNNING, NOT LEARNING, cleaning the bathrooms, or playing XBox 360 (if the bathrooms are clean.)

For lunch, they get to share an entrée, like a "Kid's Cuisine" microwavable dinner, or a whole cucumber. Actually, they usually have macaroni and cheese or Velveeta and shells. I know it sounds like I'm spoiling them by actually giving them something they actually want even though it's devoid of nutrition, but it's something I'm willing to compromise on since I'll be forcing them to eat sauerkraut and Brussel sprouts for dinner (besides, the Bran I mix with the cheese noodles is almost undetectable.)
"This tastes funny, Dad!"
"Yeah, but so do clowns, but you don't see THEM complaining!" I reply. The kids are' too confused to argue.

After lunch, it's play time outside, where they get to ride their bikes, pick up rocks, and feed the animals (goats, chickens, dogs, cats, deer, birds . . .) This gives me time to work in the yard and critique their work ethic. Luckily, swim lessons at 3:00 provide a nice diversion to the monotony of manual labor. for an hour, I'm happy to let their swim coach yell at/instruct them instead of me. After swim lessons, it reading time for an hour (The Wall Street Journal does not read itself, you know), then it's "Lets help mom and dad with making dinner" time. They really like working in the kitchen, especially since we let them eat their creations, if they do a good job and don't complain to much about stirring a pot for thirty minutes.

I'll spare you the details of the evening, only to say that they take early baths, read some more, then go to bed, where they dream of the endless possibilities of tomorrow (or perhaps they even eagerly dream of the start of the next school year.)


Anonymous said...

Hopefully, they will continue these healthy "habits" when they stay with Grammy next week.

Anonymous said...

Or they may need week off to recover...

Anonymous said...

What happens when you go to Disney World??? The 3 R's before any rides?

Hmmmm.....I wonder what they will be like after a week with their grandmother????