Summer vacation is a mixed bag for me. It’s hard to give up my freedom when the little monkeys come home for the summer, but I do enjoy sleeping in and not making lunches and not stressing out with them over busywork school projects. Summers have become more of a blessing for me and less of a curse than they used to be. The boys are bigger and more independent. They amuse themselves and grab their own snacks. They play outside with friends for hours on end. There is far more freedom in my summers now than there used to be. I’m truly grateful for that.
Still, even with their absences from home, they’re still around many more hours now than they are during the school year. The decibel level in my house increases exponentially in summer. I had no idea I should expect this. One thing I heard before I had kids is that boys are not as talkative as girls. I can’t believe how misguided I was in believing that tall tale. My boys talk non-stop at me all day…and not always about the same things.
To exacerbate the situation, my sons aren’t talking to me non-stop about topics that interest me. We’re not spending hours together discussing alternative energy or world religions or cultural travel. They’re carrying on about their latest fixation, and I’m trying to stay plugged into what they’re saying because I’m supposed to be all zen and living in the moment. When the summer started, we were into Iron Man. From Iron Man, we went on to discover Thor and then Captain America. Of course, from there we were full on into The Avengers after seeing the movie. From the movie, we jumped to the cartoon series Avengers, which assaulted me for what seemed like years but was actually only about a week. After The Avengers, we springboarded right into the Fantastic Four, of course, before landing where we are now…smack dab in the middle of Skylanders. Yes. I am using the term “we” here because if they’re into it I get to be into it, whether I like it or not.
Today, the boys and I went out for a letterboxing hike. Letterboxing, for the uninitiated, is a hobby where you use written clues to find a treasure box. Inside the treasure box is a logbook so you can record your find and a rubber stamp so you can stamp the hider’s unique mark into your logbook. It’s a simple pastime the boys and I took on last year when I decided they needed to learn how to follow directions. (Don’t ask me how that’s going.) Anyway, we were hiking along in between two separate caches, and both boys were rambling simultaneously about equally mind-numbing topics. Joe was telling me the attributes of his Skylander characters while Luke was discussing inventions he thinks Tony Stark should create and market. At that precise moment I realized exactly why my ability to converse with adults has deteriorated to the point where I get the hives at the prospect of a cocktail party: my kids are sucking the brain cells out of my skull. One by one they are disappearing, vacuumed from my head by my Dyson-like children.
They were still chattering on like monkeys on four shots of espresso when I finally lost it.
“You boys are sucking the brain cells from my head. I’m going to need a drink by 3!”
This tirade caught their attention and for two complete seconds they stopped their spouting and looked at me. Then, Joe laughed and Luke raised his hand waited for me to acknowledge his intent to speak again. I shook my head.
I struggle as a parent to tune into what interests my boys. I don’t want them to think that I don’t care about their world. But, how many times a day can I honestly be expected to hear the words “hot lava” or “gunship” without wanting to hang myself? I know I chose this. I could work outside the home full-time, which would greatly decrease the number of hours a day I have to listen to them quiz each other over “Who would win? Thor and his hammer or four nuclear bombs?” If I were in an office, I could have adult conversations and perhaps then I wouldn’t notice my brain in the final stages of atrophy. But, then I remember that work is work, and I don’t like work. I’d much rather be hiking and then hitting Sonic before playing 18 holes of mini golf. I guess when I think about it that way, it’s really not such a bad trade off….a little mindless chattering in exchange for 7-day weekends. And, truthfully, how many brain cells do I need for mini golf, anyway?