The house is quiet.
The kids are back to school and I can finally hear myself think.
A house full of children, all be blessed with my communication skills has led to a loud and boisterous summer.
The oldest continually communicated her dislike of the working world after having attained her first official summer job.
Middle child communicated her summer goals and helped coordinate a family bucket list (verbally and in the form of a checklist). She also communicated about back to school supplies (verbally, with a checklist and a conveniently printed hand out), as well as a running commentary on our progress in these areas.
Youngest communicated every incredible, imaginative, impossible thought that crossed his mind.
So much communication that sometimes I wondered if my ears were bleeding.
My part in many of these conversations was often to answer questions about my favourites. Favourite ice cream, favourite games, favourite stories, favourite memories. If we were talking about designing the world’s greatest waterslide after our trip to Calypso (an amazing waterpark outside of Ottawa), I was asked what my favourite features were; tight turns or plunging drops?
As we wandered along the river in search of a waterfall we could hear in the distance we came across a No Trespassing sign and, I communicated what I had learned in grade 12 English class while reading Margret Atwood. Words on a page can tell a story but you must read between the lines to see the author’s true intent. If the inspiration behind No Trespassing signs was born from fear of damage or disrespect, as long as we employed a little common courtesy and sense, surely we could just slip under the barricade and carry on our way. Luckily, there were no alarms.
The waterfall was worth it. As we sat on the rocks and let the water crash over our shoulders, we imagined what it would be like to live under the sea and I was asked what my favourite underwater transportation would be. There was a bit of a debate when I settled on a shark. The confusion was on why I would overlook dolphins, knowing my high regard for these sociable aquatic mammals that show altruism, not only for their own species but for others as well. I offered up the moral implications of reducing such an intelligent and kind creature to a mere vehicle but my eldest just scoffed and argued that dolphins were so smart they could just “get you off” if they wanted to. Well you have no idea! I felt inspired to share the other dolphin trivia I just happened to have up my sleeve.
As unconventional as it is to discuss animal porn with your children I still feel this was more of a parenting win than when I tried to explain clock positioning. During a day spent picnicking at the sand dunes, I tried to draw the kids attention to the teenagers that were slip and sliding down the sand dunes.
“Look! Look over there. At 3 o’clock!”
After taking a moment to clarify that there was no need for Siri to set an alarm, I asked them to imagine a clock face in front of them and then look in the relative direction of where 3 o’clock would be. After a little confusion I realized that I needed to teach them to flip the clock so that they would be looking at my 3 o’clock instead of their 3 o’clock which led to an argument over who should do the conversion; the person giving the order, or the person receiving the order. After finally agreeing on where we should be looking, the teenagers had moved on and we realized this did not seem to be the most efficient way of communicating (especially for the spatially challenged). We decided to devise a new, more accessible system and for the rest of the summer we watched Mr. Cractpot’s eye twitch every time we said, “Look! 15 minutes to your right.”
“No, your other right.”
“I mean my right.”
With a little more practice I think we’ll be ready to revolutionize people watching.
On and on as we explored our summer I struggled to choose my favourites. Waterslides or waterfalls? Geocaching or Pokémon Go? Sliding down sand dunes or riding on roller coasters? From so many amazing moments, how could I choose?
I can however, choose the worst.
The moment when the house is quiet and I have no one to play with. Right now when I can finally hear myself think.
Communication is the sharing of information and ideas between people and my people have all left me for their teachers. Teachers that will inevitably complain that they talk too much. That they have a hard time focusing on the task at hand. That their imagination is distracting them from necessary lessons that do not include how to interpret no trespassing signs, the sex life of dolphins or revolutionizing clock positioning.
I get it, I do.
I had them all summer. There were times I feared I was raising a pack of wild squirrels. Days where all they seemed to do was forage through my food supplies while picking stuff up and then putting it back down somewhere else and then immediately forgetting where they left it.
They can drive you to drink. Coffee at the very least, but there will be certain days you’ll need something stronger. There are times when you will wonder what on earth they are thinking, but don’t ask. Trust me, there’s not enough time in a day. There wasn’t enough time in a summer.
Still, my time is up and they’re all yours, so take care of them.
They are great kids.
In fact, they’re my favourite.
We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today. ~Stacia Tauscher