As I write this, there are 10 kids at my house. I’ve only given birth to three.
There are four bikes and a scooter in my driveway, and I didn’t purchase any of them. There’s an open bag of Cheetos near the front door, tossed there in haste as my son ran to the backyard to turn on the hose. There is a graveyard of spent water balloons on the trampoline, and an empty can of sunscreen on the counter.
Summer is almost here. School is almost out. And that means a few things, most of which I welcome.
1. I won’t have to make lunches.
I know, that sounds so stupid, but I honestly celebrate half days simply because I don’t have to pack lunches. It might only take me 15 minutes each morning, but it just seems like a Herculean task with everyone wanting something different, and by now, I’m out of ideas. Fresh out. I remember seeing a meme last year about this time of year that joked about sending kids to school with a lunch that consisted of croutons in tinfoil, and I laughed so hard I cried. Because it was a sad reflection of the state of affairs at that moment. And, now, this moment.
2. There will be kids upon kids at my house.
They will ring the doorbell before my kids have even changed out of their pajamas. Because, it’s summer! And, we’re that house, which I love. I love the conversations I get to have, the advice I get to give, the fly-on-the-wall moments I steal when they think I can’t hear a thing with my headphones on. I love getting the side eye from them when I dance in the kitchen, and the mad respect I get from them for salvaging my street cred by knowing the latest gossip or the newest song.
3. I will never have clean towels.
And if I do, they’ll be poached from me within minutes. We don’t even have a pool.
4. I will run a dishwasher filled entirely with cups.
Just cups. And I’ll do that even if no other child comes to my house. Plastic cups, the ones in the 99-cent bin at the grocery, multiply like Gremlins at our house during the summer. Which makes sense, because they got wet!
5. The phrase “Shut the door!” will be uttered 300,000 times.
By me. To minors, who apparently have short-term memory issues. Because I just told them the same thing 35 seconds prior. It will make me feel old, but I’d rather feel old that way than old by keeping a fly swatter in my back pocket.
6. I’ll have a new soundtrack.
Every summer brings a new fad, right? Last year, it was the bunch o’ balloons. Those crazy-looking yet totally genius water balloons that blow up all together on the ends of tiny straws? This year, it’s fidget spinners and slime and musical.ly, that lip-syncing app every tween is using (and I secretly dig). I’ve said a silent prayer to the universe hoping bottle flipping has died its last death, because there are only so many things a mom can take. Let’s make it official: RIP Bottle Flipping.
7. I must remind them to “Put on shoes!”
This absolutely blows my mind. The ground is 8 million degrees in Phoenix, and they still run outside barefoot. They’re basically fire walkers. But beyond the danger of third-degree burns, their feet get so dirty. So I will remind them. And they will roll their eyes.
8. I will blow through chips, soda and Otter Pops.
It’ll happen and I need to prepare for it. Like I said, we’re that house, so snacks are part of the deal. I vividly remember going directly to the cereal pantry at my friend’s house growing up, hoping against hope that her mom had purchased another box of Lucky Charms since I had been there last. So, this is my karma.
9. I’ll get to make corrections.
I relish the opportunity to let kids, even my own, know what’s what. In a very non-righteous way, sometimes almost in passing, I’ll take the opportunity to remind these summer-loving kids how things work. How to treat others. How to be kind and respectful and honest. It’s almost always a dropped-in comment, but I know they hear me. Maybe they’ll roll their eyes when I leave, but maybe they won’t. Maybe they’ll sit with it for a sec, or maybe it’ll buzz in their brain later, when they need it.
10. I’ll have those moments.
Being here, with them, I’ll get to hear them stand up for each other when someone else is being uncool. I’ll get to hear them belly laugh, the kind that makes you laugh even though you don’t know what they’re laughing at. I’ll get to hear their new jokes, see their new trampoline tricks and fall victim to their newest prank (the latest of which involved faux-impaling themselves with toothpicks, using strawberry jam as stage blood). I’ll get to hear the conversations they reserve for the playground, learn who “likes” who, and find new ways to dork out in front of their friends.
The most beautiful words I’ll hear
So while I have laundry to do and cups to wash, I know that soon I won’t have to pack lunches for 10 weeks and that’s a beautiful thing. Almost as beautiful as hearing my son, just now, tell his friend to “Shut the door!”