Friday, June 15, 2012

Fairy Expectations 

There are some days where, who knows for what reason, I wake up with a little extra bounce in my step.  Ironically; rainy days.  Stormy days.  Dark skies that mask the actual time of day all day long.  Pounding rain, warning you to stay inside, or else you are destined to look like your newly blooming hydrangea. The threatening weather just makes the little glories of “home” seem more obvious, and with a grateful heart, I curl up in an old quilt……and plan.

It’s disgusting how much enjoyment I get from planning.

Lists.  Check marks and a good felt-tip pen.  The little rush I get from COMPLETING A TASK on time. As a stay at home mom of four, this simple event is a luxury I relish.

The kids seem to feel a rainy day contentment too.  They have been self-entertained with fairy wings and a mini-picnic basket for 45 minutes.  Its amazing how a good thunderstorm spurs new interest in old toys.  And with an entire post-it note of checked off boxes, I am ready to put down the anti-bacterial spray and pick-up the jester hat.

There are some staples of a rainy day.  Forts. Movies (I don’t even feel guilty about). Home-made cookies. This is all done by 10:00 flat.

We need a bigger plan.

It’s the compilation of all things wonderfully “cozy”…..we will host an impromptu fairy party in our playhouse with our neighborhood kiddos.  Somebody has to eat all these stinkin’ cookies.

I tell my two waiting fairies to stay on our porch while I run the computer and blankets out to the playhouse. Then together we make the wet dash to the playhouse. Its raining so hard, I actually consider the possiblity of finding ruby slippers sticking out from the foundation. 

Dripping fairy gowns. Muddy feet.  Twinkle lights. Giant smiles.

Door handle on floor…..what?

With great effort to keep the rain out, my four year old has slammed the door so hard, the handle comes off and we are locked inside. 

I can actually hear the world laughing at me.

This moment, like so many lately, reminds me I am not in charge.  Ever.

Fairy hysteria hits and God save me…is there really anything worse?  My young Liza Minnelli screams, “We are going to die!!!” while literally running and throwing her bird body at the door to get out.  There is goldfish rationing. Safety rules are reitterated. The littlest fairy is in the corner shaking because a giant clap of thunder has just made the windows rattle and I’m sure she thinks these are her last moments. I wish I could reassure her. Older sister is not an easy melt-down to witness. 

I’m no MacGyver. There are no bobby pins and extra wire.  There are stuffed animals staring blankly at me from their designated playhouse chairs which just seem to add to the audience of failure. I’m cursing my Boy Scout husband for building a freakin’ bomb-sturdy shelter.  The fairies are now smearing their glitter cheeks against the windows, scratching to get out. Its beginning to look like a hot pink helter skelter in here.

Just as I’m about to pull an Alice in Wonderland, and literally throw my giant size mom body through the mini-playhouse windows…I rattle the screen free.  Screams of joy.  Puddles of pee. Little fairy is so relieved she lets is all go on the floor.  Hey, we all celebrate in our own way.  I shove my four year old out the mini-window in the middle of the hurricane and she obediently opens the door and sets us free.

So much for “Mommy-makes-rainy-days-special”.  We narrowly escaped and entire afternoon of angry Tink going ballistic in unsanitary conditions. We retreat to normality.

Normal clothes.

Normal couch.

Normal movie.

And all is fine.  Actually, all is grand.

Sometimes I make it more work than it needs to be.  A lot of the time.  Maybe it’s the need to create and accomplish something separate from the normal routine. Not just laundry and dishwashers and seatbelts. Maybe it’s my own wish fulfillment, both as a child and a mother.
I would have loved a 2 story playhouse with twinkling lights and my own front porch.  I would have relished in a rainy day getaway.  And, I would love them to remember me as a mom that put down the Everyday once in a while to make room, messy as it may be, to experience the Exceptional day. Mom’s lipstick. Lunch on a kabob. Butterfly streamers.   Cookie stands. But, this is about me, and the world so gently reminds me of this fact.

They are happy with the smallest of luxuries….PB&J and popcorn for lunch.  It doesn’t even need butter.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Camp Counselor

Remember the first overnight camp? The b-line for the top bunk. The craft room overflowing with godseye yarn and friendship bracelets?  The handsome, guitar playing counselor that was the perfect shade of tan? The 3:00 grape kool-aid and Ritz cracker sandwiches? The campfires at the end of a day so packed full of fun that your eyes struggled to stay open. Maybe even a first kiss? The ravine offered up some serious privacy for the first time. The girl that took just a little too long in the public shower? The intangible smell of rotting feet by the end of the week?
I think at age ten, I was pretty sure I was going to grow up and run a camp.  Or at least be one of the sassy counselors that sang clear and strong while my bleached out ponytail blew in the wind at the campfire.

Such a damn romantic. Always.  And I’ll be damned if that’s not exactly what happened. 
There are no creaky cabins.  No mysterious ghost stories. I don’t play the guitar and there certainly is no KP duty. But, I might as well be wearing a matching t-shirt and rolled up cut-offs, because I am the camp counselor.

Camp starts when the sun rises and the pitter patter of feet fall out of bunks and stumble to the kitchen.  And I’m on. 

Today’s Itinerary:

They campers are happily unaware of this mantra, but it is always present in my mind, and thus there is less creative space available.
Yes, there will be pine cone bird feeders and homemade fairy houses.  There will be nature hikes and bike rides to ice cream parlors. There will be environmentally dangerous amount of sprinklers and pool time. There will be a freezer with a never-ending supply of ices.

And Thank God. I hope this is what they remember, because I’m pretty sure I have become the chubby, bossy, frizzy-haired counselor that you prayed would never call your name on cabin assignment am.  You know the one.  There is Barbie-esque counselor Aimie  that will share her lip stick collection with you after light-out, and then there is “Barb” the-chip-on-my-shoulder-I-earned-every-damn-girl-scout-badge-get-your-skunky-butt-in-your-bunk-you-lazy-kid, camp facilitator.  You don’t walk to close to Barb (and not just because her arm flab is scary on the hike down to the lake).

Barb sucks the magic out of the air, and you just want to hold on the possibility of new adventure.

I want to be Aimie.  I want to be the counselor that sneaks pixie sticks under your pillow after dark and shares a sly wink when you “accidently” end up seated next to your first crush at campfire time. I want my kids to come to me with awe in their faces, with questions from their heart.  God help me, I want that damn golden ponytail.
And yet, flabby arms and all, I find myself “Barb” hiking down to the lake. Or shoving butts into car seats.  Slapping sunscreen on pudgy cheeks and poorly shaven legs. Nagging about table manners. Yanking kiddos out of pools if they don’t follow proper pool etiquette.  Counting marshmallows.

Oh, Barb, you are missing the whole point.

And yet, I wonder if Aimee knew CPR. I’m pretty sure she never made a frantic run to the ER with a two year old’s eye bleeding down her face.  I think she was typically slathered in baby oil instead of SPF 50.
Motherhood requires a new name.  There must be room for both needs, because I do not want to sacrifice all the magic in the name of safety.  I will encourage mud pies, nerf wars, princess forts, backward dives.  Body paint.  I will make sure they stay up so late they fall asleep in their hoodies at a campfire.  I will hand out sparklers and stock my closet with glow sticks.  We will catch fireflies.

But I’m pretty sure Barb will always be watching too.  I’m not too proud to jump in a pool fully clothed to man-handle a nine year old to a timeout on the deck. I’m an utter nag about sunhats and shoes in public restrooms.  I will not to feed them hotdogs more than three times a week.  I will work on those shmuckin’ triceps……
I’m going to try to remember that despite the long hours of mud-smeared, constant snack producing, face sweating, endless cleaning, safety nagging work of being a mom counselor, I also get to witness the intangible joy of a free summer.

I have the luxury of watching their little shoulders tan and cheering for the bellyflops. Strawberry picking and growing a neglected garden. 
The ten year old never envisioned the counselor I have become.  But I will put on my lifeguard whistle, cook’s hat, arts and crafts director badge, reading coach glasses, grounds keeper visor, maid apron and nurses gloves to make this one work as best I can.

But, I can’t promise I won’t sit outside with a brandy slush when the day is over.  You can't tell me Barb or Aimie wouldn't didn't want to do the same thing.