It's summer! It's the time of year most of us live for. School's out, the weather's hot, and the days are long. For some, summer means sending their children off to expensive camps where they learn to speak French or play the oboe; for others, it means packing up their families and heading up to their lakefront cabins. For George Clooney, it means hopping on a private jet with his girlfriend and flying to his Italian villa. For my children and me, it means holing up at home and going to seed.
We're homebodies, my kids and me. Unlike my husband, who's on the same schedule year-round (plus or minus several tee times), things change for my children and me in the summer. We go to bed late and sleep in. We eat odd food at odd hours, as we demonstrated this morning when we had lasagna for breakfast at 10:00. We don't get haircuts, we barely brush our teeth, and we don't shower unless absolutely necessary. It concerns some people, like Mike, the intern pastor at our church. He looked alarmed when we arrived for the evening service last Sunday. "Sara?" he questioned, looking us up and down. "Were you guys...at the lake?" I think he wanted to say "at the garbage dump," or "wrestling with wolves," but he restrained himself. "No," I chirped happily. "We slept too late to make it to either service this morning."
I can't blame Intern Mike for being worried. As a result of our severe lack of hygiene, my kids and I have let our appearance deteriorate from the usual school-year unkempt to the complete disrepair of summertime. If you don't believe me, take a look at this recent photo of us:
I didn't realize how bad it was getting until we were on Nicollet Mall this week after visiting my husband for lunch. Some woman tried to shove a dollar into the cup of coffee I was carrying. That's when I figured it was time for all of us to comb our hair. And perhaps put on some shoes.
Why, you ask, aside from occasional visits to the store to restock my supply of Diet Coke, do we stay at home when there's a whole world out there to explore? Well, why do we need to? The school year is demanding, so in the summer, some serious R&R is in order. Of course, our idea of R&R would drive some people mad. My best friend Amy, a high-ranking IT executive, brings her daughters to the American Girl store for some family-style enjoyment. Me, on the other hand, a freeloading housewife, can scarcely afford the gas money to get to the Mall of America, much less any purchase at the American Girl store. Fortunately, my kids don't mind. We don't need much. Give us a pile of books, a deck of cards, some lemonade, and ingredients to make M&M cookies (the dough made an excellent breakfast yesterday!), and we're good. Alright, fine. We're lazy.
And just when I thought that we couldn't be any more lazy, my kids decided that the act of speaking in sentences was too much effort. Therefore, they came up with their own language of abbreviated words, so that only the three of us could understand anything that they said. My daughter wouldn't even look up from her book when I'd walk by and she wanted something to eat. She'd just say "muff", and I could translate that to mean "Mother, may I please have a muffin?" On the rare occasions that we'd leave the house, my son would say "Yu?" which translates to "Are we going to drive Dad's Yukon? Because I like riding in his vehicle much better than riding in your 11-year-old sedan. It's old and it smells funny." Unfortunately, I had to put a stop to the shorthand when they started abbreviating the words "butter," "hello," "peanut," and "assume."
Although we're in a state of extreme relaxation, we still keep a schedule, mostly because I worry about our muscles going into atrophy. We have our own set of activities every day, and missing them causes a great deal of distress. My daughter almost cried when I was in the bathroom at the scheduled start of our regular Dance Party on the Deck. The only way to redeem myself was to perform the Worm to the ubiquitous "Call Me Maybe." I'm not sure when I'll recover, either physically or emotionally. Maybe I'll ask Intern Mike to add me to the prayer chain. If he hasn't added all of us already, that is.
Intern Mike really shouldn't worry about us, though. Although there's still plenty of summer, it's going to end. Those premature back-to-school ads remind us of that every day. Sometimes I consider what I'll do when school starts again and my kids are gone every day. But I know the answer: I'll cry and eat cookie dough. And then I'll take a good, long shower.