“Just go in your underwear!”

“Just go in your underwear!”

I can still hear my grandmother’s voice. Clear, jolly and amused by our lack of ingenuity. No bathing suits? Just go in your underwear. In the early 80s, this was the answer to most water play dilemmas. Truth be told, it is still my first response when a child arrives at my home unprepared to be wet. I channel the woman who never lacked common sense.

A bathing suit isn’t a necessity. Plans aren’t a necessity. Dirt is necessary. The sprinkler is necessary.

My grandmother would place the sprinkler on her small, rectangular patch of Southern California front lawn. We would run until the wet was down to our bones.

There wasn’t anything as good as that feeling. Stringy hair in our eyes and pools of muddy water around our feet; pushing one foot down until you could only see your ankle.

My grandmother was inside doing…something. Or nothing. We never knew. Sometimes, sandwiches would magically appear.

We’d make elaborate mud pies with the tin plates she’d given up on. If you wanted to know which special event you were celebrating, you had to count the rocks on your pie. 1, 2, 3, 4, 8! Happy 8th Birthday!

Time moved like partially solidified honey and it was just as sweet.

At night, we’d run around the back porch, a blanket draped loosely over our backs and tied with those thin, red rubber bands all grandmothers kept in their junk drawer. We were still in our underwear; dried mud on our feet.

They had a few glasses of Wild Turkey on the rocks in the evenings. My grandmother’s leg resting on a small table. They would chat and laugh and observe. We were clearly their world, but, we weren’t their entire world.

We slept on the floor on carefully arranged couch cushions; the lilac air freshener doubling as “monster spray” protecting us as we slept.

At 6:00 a.m., I would hear her slippered feet in the hallway. At 6:15, the smell of her coffee entered the room before her. Folgers.

When my children tell me they hate the sprinkler, I wonder how it is possible that my deep love of those summers wasn’t transferred genetically.

“Don’t you want to hear about my summers with Grandma Marylee?”

“Who?”

I wonder how it is possible that my deep love of her wasn’t transferred genetically.

She would pass by my tousled hair peeking out from under a blanket on her way to the back porch; her coffee in hand, ” Are you up? Do you want to join me for coffee?”

After she drank her coffee, we’d start all over again.

“Grandma, I don’t have a bathing suit!”

“Just go in your underwear!”





Guess how many shits I give.

I like to think that I’m woman enough to admit when I’ve been wrong. I’m also woman enough to notice when I’ve been wronged. I am also woman enough to admit in public that I no longer give any shits about anything and then, that woman who once gave the shits, she reaches over and pats the new me of non-shit giving on the back and it is good. And, what does this all even mean?

I don’t know.

Here’s what I do know. This season has been long and I’ve been not so much feeling the funny as I’ve been saying it. I’ve been weaving and crocheting and creating a summer blanket that is far more fun to look at than it is on the inside, where it’s soft and fragile…like a, well, like a blanket.

There has just been a lot going on. A full house. People full of individuality in tight spaces. Tip-toeing when tip-toeing may not be required and always questioning the right things to say and then possibly realizing there are no right things to say. It’s bloody tiring.

At this point, I have left well enough alone. The trips I once pretended I would plan? Neglected. The pool is inflated, yet no children swim in it. Instead? A Goosebumps marathon. All damn day. The shits I give? Gone.

Here’s the magic; I’ve accepted this as part of the tapestry of summer 2013. The summer we watched too much T.V. and mom didn’t argue when they asked for a cupcake at 9:30 a.m. and maybe we ate dinner at 7 and maybe at 8:30 or maybe, just maybe, we had cupcakes again. This is where I am right now.

In this grand display of, “MEH.”, everyone has been just fine. The children are happy to have free-form summer and I am happy to provide it. I am trying so little that it’s almost impressive. The sun sets, the sun rises and the number of shits I give still equal zero.

In a few weeks, I will have to inflate my shit-o-meter to almost bursting for back-to-school and the adult responsibilities that so graciously hang on the coat-tails of late Summer/early Fall, but, for now, my world is lazy. It smells like early morning baked goods. When coffee becomes cool, I don’t try to keep it hot. I throw an ice cube in it and go about my day of turning lemons into lemonade, but, only if it’s powdered lemonade because squeezing the juice just sounds exhausting. Let’s make the most of it with as little effort as possible, shall we?

And, when the Goosebumps marathon ends, we’ll start with Are You Afraid of the Dark. That should take us to at least shit-o-meter inflation eve.

It’s all about perspective.

It’s the end of the world as we know it…and I feel fine.





The Pool You Know.

Oh look, says everyone, another post about taking your kids to the pool. Never been done.

Lies. But, seriously, I can’t not write this. I have to and you’re going to bear with me. Because you love me and because you hate the pool too.

Amen?

I took the two littles to the pool today because it’s pre-Independence Day and because I’ve been a royal bitch. I’ve been complaining about doing laundry as I angrily shove load after load into the dryer as if the sheets are bags of wet, angry cats.

I’ve been sweeping the floor and mumbling about how I wish floors were still dirt and then lamenting the fact that dirt floors would still be cleaner than my kitchen laminate and there are the daily, 4:30 p.m. guttural low shouts of, “GET OUTSIDE NOWWWWWWWWWW!” where I channel a combination of a wookie and Danny Torrance’s Redrum finger.

I’ve not been fun. The kids are starting to look at me in “that” way. The way that says, “I hope mom enjoys living under the town bridge in her 80s.” I had to do some summer reconciliation and how and quick like.

So, the pool it was because I had 5 dollars, half a sandwich and two mostly recently washed towels. I was ready.

But, I was not ready for the assault or the asphalt or the absolutely knock-down, drag-out gladiator stylings of the public pool. Holy Shit, y’all. I’m glad I lived in Georgia for several years. Hold my earrings because it just got serious. Bless our hearts.

I walked in. It was pandemonium, but, not the fun kind. Not the early 90s MTV Spring Break kind. It was the other kind. The, I’m lost at Disneyland because my invisible dog on a leash toy led me away from my family kind and p.s. I dropped my ice cream. Maybe this happened to me. Ask my inner child later.

It was a lot of splashing and bad choices and random/sudden nudity and it was much, much too late for me because they were awake when we pulled into the parking lot. Oh Shit.

Three hours later, I was almost chlorine blind and tired and I think, limping, and I suggested we go to the Snack Shack because they have fries and, bonus, it is located on the OUTSIDE of the pool gates. I allowed their hunger to sucker them away from the pool. You dangle a popsicle and the kids will follow. Like a donkey’s Field of Dreams.

They were seated at the bench. I got everyone settled. I took their orders. I grabbed my wallet. I HAVE THE POPSICLES and the heavens shined down upon me and it was good. 10 seconds later, they were covered in popsicle and stomping back toward the pool. Oh Shit.

My only options were being beat to death by several child-sized Crocs or, I could return to the pool.

You can guess what happened next.

That’s right, I played the vomit card.

“Mommy is going to throw up. We have to leave right now!”

You know what will get you out of going back to the 8th ring of watery hell? Saying you’re going to puke in front of a lot of kids and, if you station yourself next to the kids who look really cool, your older kids will even help pack up your stuff so you can leave faster.

I hope that those few hours at the pool have at least upgraded my retirement community from bridge dweller to the level of unfinished basement. If not, there’s always next week and the week after and the week after and come pool with us, BPM, forever and ever and ever and…

Oh Shit.





Something sticky this way comes.

Kids love s’mores. That is a universal truth. With the promised birth of Spring temperatures, we decided to rescue the fire pit from its seasonal grave, the garage. As my husband gathered wood for the pit, a bear pelt and club his only protection from the elements and our two domesticated indoor/outdoor cats, I went to secure the spoils from our local market. It was all very much like the gathering of nuts and berries.

I returned and like rabid dogs, the children descended. Already smelling of smoke. Faces lined with dirt and fingernails now in the category of digging yourself out of a shallow grave dirty.

“WHAT’S IN THE BAG? Is it…S’MORES?” *insert gargle of saliva and crazy eyes*

“Maybe. I mean, it could be. I honestly don’t know. We’ll see!” *runs inside to find a hockey mask and Barbie knee/elbow pads*

My husband didn’t have a s’more until adulthood. I’m not sure if I believe this, but, he does. He claims that his first s’more was consumed while working as a young adult counselor at summer camp. He doesn’t remember details, but, they found him later wrapped around a tree with marshmallow caked to his fingers and face. S’more overdose. It happens.

I’m a firm believer that childhood needs s’mores. As does adulthood and, I am sure that a valid argument for having more children is prolonged access and exposure to s’mores. I haven’t fully fleshed out this argument, but, it seems air tight.

So, we made FIRE. We secured fixings. Children were adequately foaming at the mouth. We made s’mores and s’mores and then, s'(ome)more.

It’s funny how something so simple sparks not only the beginning of a season, but, also serves as a marker of childhood and, of the much anticipated summer to come when sticky fingers become par for the course until late August. Around a small fire, a season magically appears in the not-so-distant horizon painted in marshmallow dreams.

The problem with s’mores is that they are the heroin of the dessert world. Once you start the s’more season, you must prepare for the junkie’s rationale. Lying. Cheating. Stealing. Carcasses of bags of marshmallows opened with their tiny teeth. Trails of graham cracker crumbs leading to an underground s’more den. Chocolate massacres. It’s ugly. It’s beautiful. It’s terrifying.

As we brought our small s’more savages back inside to strip them of their smoke-filled clothing while they gnashed their teeth and protested with beastly marshmallow muted growls, we looked knowingly at each other across the room with a look that said, “Hide the bag of shit before one of them chews our arms off in the middle of the night.”

Welcome, Spring. Welcome, s’more season. Welcome, new pantry locks.

How many children can we moderately safely place around a fire? There's only one way to find out.

How many children can we moderately safely place around a fire? There’s only one way to find out.