What I'm looking forward to: days without structure. Not sitting down at 4:30 each afternoon to oversee homework. (We've been blessed with minimal homework this year, which is not to say there hasn't been occasional tears and drama over 4th grade math.) Days at the park. Days at the pool. Our big summer vacation: we're going on a cruise! Lazy mornings and library afternoons.
What I'm sort of dreading: days without structure. No breaks from the kids until bedtime, which gets pushed back later & later each year. 16 hours + 2 kids = 1 tense mama. Sibling squabbles that erupt after too togetherness. Whining for soda, cookies, and the near-constant snack grazing of Tucker. And also, and maybe most of all, the neighborhood kid thing.
My maternal grandmother was famous for her vehemence in not wanting to entertain or even allow other children into her home. My mother tells stories about her mom yelling at other kids, not allowing them to cross her threshold and basically having a reputation as an impatient, angry woman who had no qualms about screaming out the back door at somebody else's kids. Of course, this was back in the late '40s and '50s, when parents could get away with that sort of thing. Ah, the good old days.
So now it's my turn. I live in a town that's famous for being family-friendly. There are kids everywhere. In the last six months, Tucker has become good friends with a pair of young brothers on our street, and is also pals with many other little boys who live near us and play at the park next to our house. Lily has a friend on the next block, hosts play dates and runs into school friends at the park. Inevitably, all these children seem to end up at our front door. And I'm okay with that. Or rather, like my mother before me: I try to be okay with that. Is it DNA, or deeply ingrained family behaviors that make me tense up and want to boot those young, smiling faces from my front porch?
I'm never going to be the neighborhood "cool mom," who orders the pizzas that appear just before the kids realize they're hungry, who gives out the easy, laid-back invitations for sleepovers on the fly. We won't be those parents who mysteriously seem to vanish and give the kids run of the house. But: I have pretzels, and half a bowl of grapes! I have a fridge out in the garage stocked with juice boxes and waters and sodas and I'll share my last box of Thin Mints with giggling girls without getting too cranky about it.