My annual ode to summer

Happy Fourth of July!

Written by “One of the Guys”

Summer holds a sacred place in the hearts of men. The warmth changes our perception. We feel empowered to turn possibility into reality. We play as if life weren’t as complicated as it is. We act like children, exploring the endless adventure that summer is. Beaches. Mountains. Bike Trails. Ball games. Amusement Parks. Bars. Barbecues.

As we prepare for our adventures, we lather on sunscreen, trying to prevent the streams of wear and tear on our faces from turning into rivers. We don a hat and the coolest pair of sunglasses we can afford, throw every possible accessory we might need into the trunk of our car, and head out to discover what we can discover. Or more aptly put, be open for what might discover us.

Summer is the season for improv. It’s the time we let life lead us instead of forcing the issue. And that alone makes it special.

But not me. No, my summer looks quite different from that. I’ll be doing Daddy Day Camp.

When I realized that I would be home with my kids all day,  I went into a panic. Yes, I love my kids unconditionally. I spend my days and nights trying to figure out ways to enrich their lives. But spending twelve hours a day, five days a week with three active kids was not something I was ready for.

I knew I would need some structure, so I formulated a plan in the form of Daddy Day Camp. If you’re not familiar with this term, it’s really quite simple. When dealing with three kids who specialize in being hungry all the time, forgetting to use the bathroom when it’s available, fighting over anything and everything, and throwing their stuff all over the house, you need something to stop this endless cycle.

My wife said, “Just get one of those big blow up pools. You know, the kind big enough to actually swim in. They can play in that all summer.”

I said, “But that would mean I have to supervise the whole time. That kind of  defeats the purpose really. I need stuff for them to do so I can get some of my own work done. I need more balance.”

She said, “Good luck with that.”

“Thanks Honey.”

So I instituted Daddy Day Camp.

The first day the kids and I had a meeting, where I handed out the daily agenda.

My middle guy said, “Dad this is summer. You’re not the boss of us. We get to do what we want!”

I said, “Where did you hear that nonsense? I’m the boss until you turn eighteen, or until you’re big enough to ignore me and then back it up. For now let’s go over the agenda.”

Number 1. Wake up. Eat a healthy breakfast without complaining.

Number 2. Practice piano, karate and anything else dad says to do.

(Kids are already rolling their eyes.)

Number 3. Tennis lessons with me. (They have that “OH NO” look.)

Number 4. Read. Draw. Or do something quiet so dad can work.

Number 5. Lunch.

(By now their eyes are coming out of their heads.)

Number 6. Quiet time in your rooms so dad can work. (They’re glancing at each other, so I have to throw them a bone.)

Number 7. Wii time. (Only if you’ve been quiet with no fighting.) (Yeah, right!)

Number 8. Play a sport or go on a field trip.

Number 9. Free time. Hang out time. Relax time.

Number 10. Early dinner.

Kids: Dad, this is going to be the worst summer ever!!

Me: Why, what’s wrong with the plan? It sounds fun to me.

Kids: It’s terrible.

Me: What’s wrong with it? You get to do a lot of cool stuff. We’ll check out some museums. We’ll go to the arboretum. We’ll play sports. I don’t see the problem.

Kids: The problem is, this is not what summer is about!!

Me: No? Well please enlighten me.

Kids: Summer is about fun. It’s about doing nothing. It’s about sitting in front of the TV or playing video games. It’s about shooting baskets without being instructed on the proper way to shoot a jump shot. It’s about us, not you.

Me: Hmm…..You make some good points there. But I’m going to have to veto all of them.

Kids: What? We don’t even know what that means.

Me: It means let’s get started. Number 1. Start eating!

So I hope all of you readers have a great summer. And please do me a favor. Think of me while you sip a cold drink of water, viewing a beautiful sunset, sitting on a vast mountaintop. I’ll be home, unshowered, dealing with the endless cycle of kids.

How do you achieve balance in the summer?

Any ideas? Thoughts? Help??

16 Comments on My annual ode to summer

  1. Oh shit… YOU SUCK BALLS DAD!!!!

    Bullshit, we eat donuts for breakfast, swim, jump on the trampoline, watch movies all day, read and make huge fucking messes!!!

    Quiet time? You suck.
    Piano, karate, whatever Dad says? YOU SUCK
    Scheduled ‘Free Time’? Are you KIDDING ME???? YOU SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!

    This can’t be one of my ‘regular’ GUYS… This must be a new one that they spoke about a few posts back…

    Hmph. GUYS!!! GUYS!!!

    Where are you?? I’m in need of assistance! I need to go steal his children and corrupt them… Thanks bitches!

  2. To one of the guys: Your wife said you were a wonderful father, so as the one and only counselor at Daddy Day Care, you must be doing something right!

  3. @CB……….you realize this is partly “tongue and cheek” don’t you? But having said that, I’d love to have you take my kids for a day to swim and make a mess. And they could use a break from fart jokes and other stuff since I know you don’t stand for that sort of thing.

    @Judie………….The schedule never seems to work out as planned, which I guess is a good thing. There’s much more free time where they watch World Cup, play Wii more than once, and run around under the sprinkler. Lots of kids go to camp around here, but we can’t manage too many weeks of that with three kids, so that’s where I come in. I guess my third grade teaching background, plus tennis teaching, etc. works to my advantage…..and my disadvantage!

  4. Yeah, I don’t think your Daddy Rules are gonna make it unscathed during the summer. Kids, for the most part, do what they want as long as they don’t do too much damage to themselves or something else. Not always, but most of the time. But, you being a parent, likely already knew this.

    Personally, if I was a kid (and the wife thinks I still may be) I would probably be snoring halfway through your explanation of the rules. Heh hehe hee.

    With that said, I wish you luck in your endeavor and hope the kids don’t take you hostage, tie you up and throw you into a raging river. If they do… I also hope it is a big enough river for you “to swim in.” Weeeeeee.

    Hey, got your 5 questions post up on the blog. Have a Happy Independence Day, Guys!

  5. xox-Missi-xox // July 4, 2010 at 7:24 pm //

    Find a nice big cupboard with a padlock AND HIDE!!!!

    To get work done … do it when theyre occupied .. change your routine so you’re working while theyre playing the wii … and if theyve been good you can put them on leashes in the yard with big balls to throw at each other SOFT ones so they cant hurt each other in the process … while you hide in your cupboard .. or work … ear muffs are great it keeps the silence for as long as you wear them, they may look like like you’re watching the tv with the mute button turned on when they approach you but the bonus here is you wont hear them fight if they do, especially if you’re hiding in the cupboard … the leashes will keep them from tearing into each other, and outside means no mess on the inside. Sumo suits could be used just as an added safety measure.

    will definitely spare a thought – and even have a beverage or two hoping it all goes well for you 😀

    Take care

  6. I predict that on day 2 the kids give YOU a schedule and you comply the rest of summer. LOL!

    We got a puppy yesterday, hoping that keeps the girls busy. 🙂 She seems to have the energy to keep up so far. On demand Yo Gabba Gabbe and the local swimming pool work great too, but then again I get to go into an office to work. Today is my only day to “sit”. HA.

  7. Summers are hard with kids, trying to keep them entertained. When my kids were little my best gf happened to live in the same building as me and my kids so we would get together every day and go to the pool or just hang out at one of our apartments and talk while the kids played. It was heavenly. I miss those days.

    I wish you luck keeping the kids on such a tight schedule.

    I also wish I had better advice for you!

  8. You know what? You should watch Phineas and Ferb. You know? The Disney cartoon? Those kids know how to *productively* spend the summer!!! They build rockets, roller coasters, and simple, ordinary stuff like that. 😉

    But I think they should totally thank you for not asking them to wake up EARLY. Haha.

  9. I’m all for the schedule-or at least the attempt of a schedule. It sounds fun to me! Then again I’m a Virgo and I plan on teaching my future kids the joys of organizing sock drawers or sorting stuffed animals according to size. Think Monica from Friends. Of course I will end up learning to relax and go with the flow but its nice to at least start with a plan! Good luck this summer!

  10. GASP! You said the ‘f’ word to me!!!!

    Oh my god.

  11. @Kelly…………..I think you’re right. But it’s always good to have a plan. They’re meant to be broken anyway. Thanks again for including me in your 5 Question series. It was a lot of fun!

    @Missi……..I’m searching for a cupboard right now! A spare beverage might help.

    @Angelia……….A puppy!!! Shit, my kids would be in heaven. But that would be my own personal hell.

    @Raven………….I wrote about that in “Coffee saved me.” That was the article on what it’s like to be a stay-at-home dad. It’s very isolating. Your summer with your friend sounds perfect. I only wish.

    @Gnetch…….My kids LOVE “Phineas and Ferb.” I should start watching with them.

    @Date Girl………..Yes, always start with a plan. I loved Monica!

    @CB……………..That’s my secret weapon with you.

  12. Summer means it’s warm enough to travel to most places. As a California girl, I’m a little spoiled with year round tolerable weather, so I become a bit of a shut-in when it’s cold.

    For kids…the only experience I have is volunteering at preschools and leading storytimes. To get some work done, I go home. I’m no help, but I hope you and the kiddos have a great summer.

  13. GUYS, What are you doing here? Daddy Day Camp sounds like a great idea, but having been a counselor in a camp and a head counselor I can tell you just making a schedule is only half the battle. You have to make sure everyone follows it.:)

    I almost always went to summer camp because I grew up in Brooklyn and there was no respite from the heat. So I sent my kids to day camp and then when they got older they went to sleep away camp. It gave us a few weeks of total peace and quiet and it gave them new experiences. Camp is very expensive, but tell me after this summer that you wouldn’t consider it next year!

  14. @Lovy………..Thanks anyway.

    @Barbara………I know. Part of what I’m trying to express here is my frustration at not being able to do the things I want to do myself. It always seems as if the balance is off for me, and it’s exacerbated this summer. You’re right, I may need to cough up the dough for next summer.

  15. Hose those kids down! Have them take turns watering your garden/lawn and each other in the process. Then, reward them with popsicles for their good “work”. My kids always liked to put their bathing suits on and run back and forth under the sprinkler. That’ll eat up a good 10 minutes. Get a board game that they can play outside. One kid gets to be “the man” or game show host. My friend and I used to enlist her mom when we played Jeopardy. When all else fails, get a neighbor girl (11 or 12) to come over with a backpack full of all her gear. That will occupy your kids for hours, especially if she parses out what’s taken out of her bag o fun. And they can barrage her with questions instead of you. Questions like, “Why do you have so much hair on your arms?”

  16. @Janet……………Thanks for the tips. Are you volunteering to bring your bag of fun??!

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