Two weeks into summer break, we have had our share of less-than-perfect moments. There has been a constant flow of dirty dishes in the sink, messy counter tops and half-eaten snacks left for the dog to finish in front of the television. There have been countless unmade beds, wet towels on the floor and wet swimsuits in the sink. The search to find a new show to binge-watch on Netflix commenced, with one teenager already 21 episodes into “One Tree Hill.”
So we have had some difficult conversations about our kids needing more in their lives than phones and social engagements. We discussed the requirement that they do chores to earn their allowance. There was an involuntary trip to the young adult section of the Abington Library. Maybe these steps helped set things on a better path or maybe it was a perfect storm of low humidity, bright sunshine, cool breezes and a lack of social engagements that gave us the perfect day.
I took the two younger ones to the gym with me. The toddler happily went to see her “friends” in the daycare room while the 12-year-old worked out with me. This particular morning, the teacher called out over the thumping music in weight class, “Lauren, you’re a natural!” Another mom came up to us when class ended to ask if she could take a picture of Lauren to show to her 16-year-old who was still home in bed.
On the way home, with the convenient excuse that we needed milk, we stopped into Manning’s. Paula served up two skim milk-frozen yogurt milk shakes and a baby cup of chocolate with sprinkles with the warmth of the old friend she has become over the past 10-plus years. We sat outside on the bench laughing as Sarah introduced herself to every passer-by as if they had come just to meet her.
Despite the perfect weather, this was the scheduled day for major chores and I’d been dreading the looks of exasperation on their faces as they were reminded of this. To my surprise, however, the 14-year-old set off with the lawn mower and the 12-year-old picked up the cleaning supplies. The older girls pitching in left time for little Sarah and me to detail the interior of the mini-van. Two hours later, we pulled away from the house, headed for the pool. The house was spotless, the lawn was manicured and the van was devoid of crumbs and wrappers. The world was my oyster!
Most days at the club pool, it is I who stays within arm’s length of Sarah at all times. Sometimes I ask for another family member to take a short shift so I can relax but I often don’t bother, warding off the exasperated “Do I HAVE to?”
This day, everyone took a turn and I got to read a good portion of the juicy novel that has been taking up space in my pool bag. The engrossing story transported me to another place and time, but I paused to look around and soak in the late afternoon sunshine. One of my girls reclined next to me, transfixed on her latest John Green novel, while the other played ball in the pool with her baby sister and dad.
It was hard to peel ourselves away from Glen Oak, but we had planned to go to the free concert playing that night at Hillside Park. We stopped at home for the bug spray, picnic blanket and chairs and drove across town. We filled our bellies with hot-off-the-grill burgers, dogs and potato pancakes as the sun sunk below the tree line off towards Lake Winola. We took turns entertaining Sarah with trips on the nature trail, on the dock, on the playground and to examine the amazing wood-carved benches and totem poles around the lake.
I was overcome with a sense of well-being as my 12-year-old held my hand on the way to the food tent and my 14-year-old reclined on the blanket, a peaceful look on her face.
When we pulled into our road, they asked me to park on the street so they could shoot some hoops in what was left of the dusk. Lauren cranked tunes, choosing George Ezra and Panic at the Disco instead of rap (winning again!) while Dani and Doug used sidewalk chalk to chart out a game of Around the World on the driveway. Sarah and I opened the front door to let the dog out. A game of fetch in the waning light caused Pepper to go into a frenzy of joyful dodging and running at top speeds which, in turn, sent Sarah into hysterical fits of overtired laughter.
Sarah called out, “Luna!” as the moon became bright, an ode to her favorite Netflix series, “Bear in the Big Blue House.” I held her up and pointed out the few stars that had appeared and then reluctantly climbed the front porch stairs and bid the day good bye.
I closed my bedroom door to the muted sounds of Lauren and Doug laughing as they watched “America’s Got Talent” in the family room. I could also just make out the overly-dramatic dialogue from “One Tree Hill” coming from the girls’ bedroom where Dani was binge-watching herself to sleep. If it wasn’t for my alarm being set for 6 a.m. and the pile of laundry on my dresser that wasn’t going to put itself away, for a moment I felt like one of the carefree kids of summer.