Monday, September 1, 2014

Summertime Madness



This summer has just flown by. Either that or the school district has shortened summer break. My conspiracy theory is that last year’s school year ended one week later and this year’s school year has been moved up a week. I’m too lazy to actually verify this with official school calendars but my gut reaction is feeling about 60% confident.

Typically my older daughter is signed up for all the enriching summer camps I can find. Kids should never have too much free time seems to be my motto. For the past 2 years she’s gone to music camp, where she practices her cello for 3 hours, learns another instrument, takes an hour of chorus, and another hour of music theory and appreciation. She comes home talking about Mozart, Beethoven, and Verdi while we all sit through dinner impressed with her 8 year old bad ass self. The year before that, she attended an art camp in a modern art museum in Miami Beach. There the kids got to draw, paint, design, and create 3D models. The model was a huge plastic flower made from recycled materials that now sits in our laundry room. That same summer she also got certified as a Junior Naturalist at Fairchild Tropical Gardens. She combated the intense tropical summer heat and endured hideously gigantic mosquitoes to learn about the Florida ecosystem, local conservation efforts, and how to identify rare tropical flowers and native plant species. My younger daughter who is 3 has not fallen too far behind. She is currently enrolled in music, ballet, and art while attending every library story time in a 15 mile radius. To say I take their time seriously is an understatement.

This year I am starting to develop a fuck it attitude. About 2 weeks into the music camp I realized how exhausted my older daughter was, how bitchy I was becoming, and how rushed my younger daughter seemed. We’d all inevitably take it out on my husband when he’d get home. “Why don’t you all ever take it easy?” he’d ask. “Go hang at the beach and call it a day.”

Call it a day? How do you call it a day when there is so much to do, so much to see, so many awesome opportunities out there? Not only were there all these great summer camps, many offered community scholarships nobody ever bothered applying for. There’s art, there’s science, there’s LIFE to STUDY! How could we possibly take it easy? I grew up with copious amounts of free time and little supervision. My parents were free range to the extreme, as long as their time was not infringed upon, we were good to go. While I don’t prefer that approach, I am wondering whether my husband has a point, and we needed to slow it down somewhat.

A couple of years ago, I read an article on Slow Parenting that I posted on Facebook. It appealed to me on many levels, mainly because it advocated for connecting kids with nature, making sure to continue the attachment bond with them as they grow, and encouraging much free non-structured play. What a concept.

I’m a city girl through and through. As Carl Honoré would say I am definitely stuck on fast forward. Recently though, I am becoming curious about country living. I want to release my city paranoia, my speed on life, this intensity that makes it difficult for me to even look in the eyes of another human being for more than 30 seconds. Family included. Since my husband is from a small Italian town, he can frequently bring it to my attention. “Can you sit down for just one minute and look at me?” he says, at least once a day. I do it, but I feel antsy the whole time.

Obviously, slowing down is a work in progress for me. I am already planning next summer’s slowing down plan, which in itself is so beyond ridiculous I won’t allow myself to formalize it on an Excel spreadsheet just yet. I’ll just continue to expand it in my mind. Right now, the girls are taking a swimming class until school starts, which does not sound slow at all considering it’s at 8 am every day, but instead of trying to do the museum every other day; we might just do the beach after. In fact today we did just that, and already I feel much lighter and happier.

Praise of Slowness is on my “to read” list. Check out Carl Honoré’s TED talk right below:


 
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2 comments:

  1. Parenting is quite the load. Now that I am a parent, hell, wanting to start a family and having a child was “a piece of cake.” Well, compared to being a parent (now) and raising your child (children).

    We live in a culture and society that is frenzied and going at a non-stop pace – go, go, go. It’s about overachieving, over scheduling, overdoing, and outdoing others around you. And for what? Like you, I read about the slow parenting movement. And while hubs and I are about to embark on school tours for our oldest, I am feeling very pressured, overwhelmed, crazed! How can I slow down, be tranquil, mindful and let my children self explore and discover and experience the joys of life? OMG! I am pedaling as fast as I possibly can! Realistically, how can we slow down?

    I get it though. I have seen it all, through the eyes of my sisters (rearing my niece and nephews) and their pedaling in the rat race. While I do not want to turn into a “tiger mom,” I believe slowing down means doing things at a pace that works for my children, for me as a parent and our household. Let me give you an example: Hubs and I work full-time so there is only a certain amount of time we have and can spend with our children on weeknights when we get home from the office and have them, and two weekend days. So, our slowing down is not partaking in all the birthday parties, social events and obligations on our calendar. As much as we want to do it all, we simply can’t. And I know that hubs and I are/would be doing a disservice to our kids if we sign them up for everything: swimming, ballet, soccer, piano and so forth. Easy does it. So for now, we concentrate and focus on quality family time with our children, limited activities and doing our homework in order to get our oldest enrolled in kindergarten next year.

    Thank you, Patricia, for writing this piece and for the reminder to slow down.

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    1. You make an excellent point that makes me feel better about a choice I made a couple of years ago to not attend any more birthday parties and events. They were getting so stressful and infringing on quality family time. The M-F is hectic enough as is without our weekends becoming crazy. Thank you!!

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