Since my last post was a sort of farewell (“here’s your hat, what’s your hurry?”) to August, I thought I’d check in with an I-love-September post.
School has started. Despite a first September week plagued by high humidity and rain, it’s now my favorite, most energizing, soul-pleasing (not to mention hair-pleasing) weather of the year. It’s someplace between warm and cool, the air is crisp, the breezes ideal for sleeping, the sky as blue as it ever gets. For me, life speeds up in a pleasing way, after the doldrums that the summer ends on.
My niece just got married the other day, which marked the start of fall in a more interesting way than usual. It was a week of milestones, as it happens. My brother and sister in law had their second child, a girl, on September 5. On the 6th, the above-mentioned first niece turned 25. And on the 9th, she got married. The birth and the 25 years and the wedding feel like bookends in a growing life, you know? Here, two gratuitous photos of my bookend nieces:
So I’m settling down, and so are my kids — into school, into soccer practice and games, into other activities that may or may not crop up. Couple observations and intentions as the autumn gets into full swing:
- We actually have fewer after-school-busy days this year, and I think I’m going to love this. Come October, we’ll start religious ed again, on Monday afternoons, and on Fridays the soon-to-be-8-year-old has soccer practice (bonus: his dad is the coach, which means no mom taxi needed!). Games are on Sundays, which give a nice shape to that day. With practice on Friday, I moved our regular piano lesson to Saturday late morning, which is easy as pie, because there’s no homework to compete with, and my husband and I can switch off taking them to their teacher’s house. Every now and then, a flier will arrive in a backpack about tennis lessons, or a cooking class, or scouts, and I consider it, I hesitate — hovering over the recycling bin — and then let the flier drop in. Not that I don’t want to give my boys different opportunities, but then I think how crazy our weeks can possibly be, and I think, what’s the point? Can’t I take my sons to the park to bat a tennis ball around? (Sure, in theory, but I want to put those ideas into practice, and I’m saying it here to hold myself accountable).
- I’m upping the ante on chores and responsibilities for my boys this fall. Curiously, it’s been my almost 10-year-old who has been pushing me. Well, not so much pushing me but wondering why I haven’t yet done what I told them over the summer I’d be doing, which is making a printed list and posting it for them. So silly of me! I’ve been these kids’ mom long enough to know that they respond to lists, they respond to expectations set for them, so that they can then meet them. Big duh. Another accountability moment here, folks: I’ll be posting a list this weekend. I just have to figure out the system, the logistics. Will this be daily tasks they have to complete (making their beds, putting away toys and clean clothes, emptying the dishwasher and setting the table and clearing dishes after dinner), or will I add a rotating chore roster they can choose from (raking leaves, say, or dusting, or…? That feels like more work for me, but then I think it might work better than asking them in the moment to do a chore. Less my voice is heard, the better, maybe. Still debating that one. But for the last week or so, we’ve been having them not just take their own dinner plates away, but ours, too, and other things on the table. This is a baby step between having them just do their own messes, and what I did as a kid, which was handle the whole after-dinner mess while my parents (deservedly, I see now!) rested. We really have to get over this whiff of “I only clean up my own messes” attitude, here and everywhere I look. We aren’t individual fiefdoms; we are a family. Though I probably won’t make them fold my underwear. According to Greg Heffley in their favorite book series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, that’s just wrong (I disagree on principle, but I concede the point.)
- I’m doubling down on limiting crappy food this year. It’s an uphill battle, in the circles in which we run, to not encounter junk food at every turn. It seems as though children simply can’t get together, for any reason, without junk. I am, and have always been, a fan of bad food. There may or may not be a bag of cheddar cheese popcorn under my desk right now. But moderation has gone straight out the window. Things that seem quite reasonable to me, like having one cupcake per child for a birthday treat in class, cause gasps in my circles. Why just one cupcake? What if they don’t like cupcakes? What if I look stingy if I only offer cupcakes? Better to also bring cookies and juice and maybe some ice cream cups. Teachers and school officials and whoever is in charge of activities like soccer and swim lessons (and yes, there was a “party” after a two-week swim-lesson session this August, sigh) either try to come down hard, or do nothing. My dear husband got the ball rolling, in his position as soccer coach, to tell parents that the snack roster would be going around, and that what he’d like is fruit for half time, and… that’s it. I ask you — what’s wrong with that? When did it become necessary to have a treat after the game? Especially considering how many of these kids are woefully de-conditioned. Why shouldn’t they get the benefit of running around on a field for an hour, without clogging it up with Munchkins or ice cream after? I’ll let you know how it goes, but join me in applauding my husband for broaching the sacrosanct subject of soccer snacks.
And on that alliterative note, have a very happy September, everyone!