Next, brainstorm. On a separate sheet of paper, make a list of fun childhood things like
- Petting zoo
- Water park
- Vacation travel
- Soccer camp
- Book store
- Art projects (to include home-made wooden models, clay figures, ceramics, mosaic glass, mini-canvases)
- Miniature golf
Smile when you think about the petting zoo. Picture your sweet children petting a miniature pony and feeding some geese. Gasp as you remember how that fierce goat tried to eat your younger son’s socks (and by default, his feet, toes, ankles, shins, and knees) the last time you went. Cross “petting zoo” off the list. You have a cat, and she is soft. The kids can pet her.
Water parks are refreshing and a perfect place to go on those blisteringly hot summer days. Envision your family enjoying summer fun at the water park. Google the water parks closest to you to find out the prices. Read and re-read the part about it costing $55 per person. Wonder if that is a typo and really says $5.50. Call. Get put on hold. Talk to Sharla who confirms (very nicely) that $55 is indeed the daily rate. “Each?” you hear yourself say. Ask her if there are any promotional deals. Cry when she tells you that IS the promotional deal.
Cross “water park” off the list.
Call your husband at work to ask him what kind of travel budget you have for summer. Hang up on the fifth ring because you already know the answer: negative $400. Sharpen your pencil and cross “vacation travel” off the list.
Call the local rec center to sign up your older son for soccer camp, which is only $25 for the week because it is funded by some sort of grant. Smile at your good fortune and your sons’ good fortune to live in a city that offers such things. Frown when the rec center girl informs you that the camp is already full and was filled up the first day registration was available (which was way back in February), dummy. She does not actually say the word “dummy,” but her tone says it for her.
Draw a squiggly line through “soccer camp,” just to have some variety on the page.
Circle the next thing on the list: book store. Remember that you have an email coupon for Borders in your in-box. Laugh to think you almost deleted it, but for once your procrastination is paying off. Call Borders to see when their story times and special events are. Realize you must’ve dialed the wrong number, because it says “disconnected.” Repeat, say, four more times. Google it. Read the depressing little article about how your local Borders branch recently closed due to the economy. Erase “book store” and write in “library” instead.
Art projects! This you can do. Start writing on the calendar for the first time. Mondays: painting; Wednesdays: mosaics; Fridays: ceramics. Ha—this will be the summer of Art! You can’t wait to tell your sons all about their new activity.
Move on with the rest of your ideas. Gardening. Okay, there is the minor setback that every green thing you have ever owned has died. On the way home from the gardening center. Write “gardening” neatly on the calendar anyway. For your husband to do with the kids on Saturdays.
Swimming. Well, you did join a pool, so that one is covered. Decide to alternate the swimming with the Art days. Write in Tuesdays: swim; Thursdays: swim; Sundays: swim. Your family is so athletic! Well, except for your younger son who can’t actually swim yet and clings to the side of the pool screaming. Except for that.
Bowling and miniature golf. These will be fun activities that you can work into your schedule at some point. You don’t really stop to consider the very non-Virgo part about renting shoes. Shoes that other people have worn a million billion times before you, and maybe not washed their socks. Their socks that could have been licked by goats. Ick. Nor do you contemplate that miniature golf involves your sons brandishing weapons known as “golf clubs.” You will wise up later, but for now, you write it in on the side of the calendar: Rainy day activity—bowling; and miniature golf—when? Which you underline to add emphasis.
When the kids get home from school, proudly show them your calendar and how your summer is going to pan out. You have taken the initiative to color-code all the activities and write them in for the different days. Your older son (the Picasso of the family) looks at all the art projects planned and his eyes glaze over, like in a trance or a very bad coma.
The preschool son (who cannot read yet, just what are they doing for four hours every day at that school anyway?) sees the cute little blue “wave” motif you have sketched in for swim days and recoils in horror: “Does that mean swimming?!?” he screeches, as if you’d written in “manual labor and shoveling manure” instead of “lounge around and swat inflatable beach ball.”
Reassure him that swimming is fun, and he will take lessons. Tell him you will hire the nicest swim teacher on the planet, someone who really knows his stuff.
“Shamu?” asks your younger son in earnest.
“No, uh, I don’t think he teaches kids,” you respond reasonably about the famous Killer Whale.
Fast forward to mid-August. On your fireplace mantel sits exactly one (count it: one) completed wooden model of the Eiffel Tower, painted. A bag of dried out Play-Doh inhabits the coffee table, mocking you. (The clay they sold at the art supply store was too “mushy and oozy,” according to your younger son.) The swim lessons have gone surprisingly well, except for the two ear infections. And you did manage to combine bowling and miniature golf in the same day and not come down with any foot diseases nor broken bones caused by stray flying golf clubs.
You look over your calendar and feel a slight tingle of accomplishment (or possible this could be a sneeze coming on). You managed to do a few of the things on your “dream” list. A few is good. You reach for the remote control to see if TiVo has saved any new episodes of House Hunters International. The remote does not work.
“Mom,” says your older son, not unkindly, “I think the batteries are dead. You know, from us using it too much.”
(“Manages Others’ Vacations”)