Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Summer's Here: Let the Madness Begin

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Summer's Here: Let the Madness Begin

Article excerpt

A plastic lizard that "expands 600 percent in water!" floats in a juice pitcher. Pairs of Daughter's sandals lie askew before each upholstered piece of furniture in the family room. It's summertime, and the livin' is, well, different.

Every June, I whipsaw from the school-year silence of my house - broken only by the cycling of the washer or dryer and the clicking of computer keys - to the never-silent world of summer vacation.

Either the kids are talking incessantly about topics ranging from the absolute necessity of wearing mascara to school in sixth grade to the story behind the latest LEGO creation, usually a submarine with laser-guided plastic missiles and an old bilge pump rigged to propel it in the bathtub. Or I'm explaining the day's schedule, on the phone arranging activities, or hollering from the kitchen (for the third time) for them to come back and clear the lunch table.

Summer. It's a mad, mad, mad, mad other world of volleyball and basketball camps, baseball games, library trips, sleepovers, beach days, and friends' visits shuffled amid stretches of unspeakable - yet somehow complained about nevertheless - boredom.

Not to mention whining about chores; wardrobe travails ("Mom, I don't have anything to wear!" "If you had put your dirty clothes in the hamper instead of on your bedroom floor, they'd be clean because I did laundry yesterday."); and the mother of most mothers' insanity, sibling bickering.

Daughter and Son will bicker about anything. Really. Last week, as I drove to a meeting, the kids called my cellphone at the peak of a dispute about which load of laundry Son's baseball pants should go in.

From one extension, he shouted his contention that they belonged in the white load, since they are, in fact, white.

Daughter, yelling at the same time on the other extension, advocated the "light but not white" load on the grounds that the whites would be bleached, but the pants' care instructions indicated "no chlorine bleach."

I have, Solomonlike, made decisions on such life-and-death matters as whose turn it was to scour the bathroom sink, which one of them had to clean up the unidentifiable sticky substance on the kitchen floor, who started "it" (whatever "it" was), and why Daughter could have a sleepover that night while Son (whose two best friends were out of town on family vacations) couldn't. …

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