The Battle Wounds of Childhood

The nearing end of summer signifies a great change my family will soon embark upon. No, not just starting school. Something that impacts us even greater.

The battle between summer and childhood is coming to an end.

The war that breaks out each year around the days when it starts to get warm is not one necessarily of violence or animosity. The attacks are not planned and there is no general leading the fight. It is merely incidents and accidents that weave their way through little children brought on by the force known as Summer.

Summer has a cruel way of luring children outside to play. It makes them run, jump, ride their bike and roller skate. And then without warning it knocks them down and laughs in their face.

This is where I come in. As a mother to 3 children I am constantly tending to a scraped knee, elbow or bump to the head. It seems my role as infirmary nurse is never done and my supplies of band-aids, antibiotic ointment and ice packs are always in need of replacement.

It doesn’t help that my two older children have contracted a strange addiction to band-aids and require them for every little injury regardless if there is broken skin or blood. The band-aids act as a sense of security and my children apply them generously to everything that even remotely hurts from small bumps to stubbed toes.

If band-aids were an indication of a wounded soldier my children would definitely earn a purple heart.

In this war between Summer and childhood there is no white flag to wave. There is no truce to sign. You must just wait it out until the chaos subsides and we enter the autumn and winter months when there are fallen leaves and snow to soften the blows.

Until next year when Summer rears it’s ugly head in our part of the world, lures children outside to ride their bikes and then knocks them to the asphalt with a roar of laughter and the fight between the two parties starts again.

Here is a picture I took of Bency the other day. Notice the band-aids on his eye, knee and a toe!

Here is a picture I took of Bency the other day. Notice the band-aids on his eye, knee and a toe!

 

* Also, check out MomTimes4’s cartoon today that she did with the idea I submitted!

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Reading to the Ladies

The summer is coming to an end and school will start on Tuesday. Along with this will come an end to the daily “reading to the ladies.”

In our neighborhood there are two elderly ladies who have houses side by side. One of them is 89 and the other is 96. They are sisters. The 96 year old has lived here for 70 years. She was widowed in her 40’s and has lived alone since then. The 89 year old has never been married and spent her adult life living in Chicago until 20 years ago when her sister with whom she always lived with died and she came back to the area to be near family.

When we moved here 8 years ago both of the ladies were in fine shape. They mowed their own lawns, tended to their gardens and canned large amounts of vegetables. Through the years their health has deteriorated and we have had to wait patiently for them to return home several times from extended hospital stays. Today they both still live at home but have caretakers who live with them and tend to their care and the housework.

These are two of the sweetest ladies I know. They have watched our family grow and have become a part of our family. We visit with each other and help each other out. My kids think of them as extra grandmas.

This past March, when visiting with the 96 year old, she told me how lonely she had been. All she can do at this point is really just sit and watch television.

That’s when I got an idea. My 7 year old daughter, Iris, loves to read. Being in 1st grade at the time, she didn’t have any homework after school. My kids loved visiting the neighbors but didn’t go every day so I established “reading to the ladies.” Once the 89 year old got wind of the kids reading to her sister she wanted in on it too!

Iris and my 5 year old son, Bency would go to the ladies’ houses every day after school and read to them a few short stories, visit with them and then come home. This has continued throughout the summer almost every day. Iris enjoys doing this because she LOVES reading to people and the ladies enjoy the company of the kids. The caretaker for the 89 year old is a Polish immigrant, speaks broken English, loves to cook and loves my kids too. She is always making up homemade cookies for the kids and fresh popped popcorn on the stove to send home with them after they are done reading!

Once school starts, I’m sure there will be homework so they will only be able to go on the weekends. I’m going to try to keep this going as long as I can because the summer of “reading to the ladies” will always be a wonderful memory!

The Polish caretaker, the 89 year old, the 96 year old, and my husband Alex at one of my kid’s birthday parties

No Trashy Magazine at the Beach This Year

There is a beautiful beach a little over an hour from our house called Whitefish Dunes in Door County that is situated on Lake Michigan and is a little slice of heaven and almost makes us feel like we’ve left Wisconsin behind.

My husband and I started going there when we were dating. Our days there were always perfect. We would bring a blanket, a small cooler filled with sodas and a couple of sandwiches, and a trashy, celebrity magazine for me. I would lay on the blanket catching up on all the celebrity gossip and he would sit and build amazing sand castles. We would nap and swim on and off throughout the day. We would leave feeling refreshed!

As we started having kids, we would drag them along too along with several more supplies. The feeling of “being refreshed” has deteriorated little by little every year.

This past Tuesday marked the first time we ALL went to the beach (last year we left the littlest at grandma’s house). So this year it was my husband, myself, my 7 year old daughter Iris, my 5 year old son Bency and the almost 2 year old Cesar.

Our van was chocked full of essential items to make it an excellent beach excursion for everyone! Everyone was expected to carry armfuls of supplies… except for the baby who had enough of a plight trying to trudge through the deep sand by himself with his chubby little legs.

We made it to the “perfect” spot with 2 huge blankets, an enormous cooler stocked full,  a grocery bag of food, a huge bucket with tons of sand toys,  a backpack full of sun block, extra clothes, diapers  and other things to meet any medical emergency needs, and of course 5 huge towels. There was NO trashy magazine this time.

Throughout the course of the 6 hours we were there, we applied sun block several times on everyone, constantly handed out water and food, changed a poopy diaper; which is extremely difficult in sandy conditions and had to identify several foreign objects found on the beach by my kids…sometimes they were sea shells…sometimes just bird poop. We spent time in the water with everyone and some time playing in the sand. I had to retrieve the littlest one a couple of times…he had joined another family a little ways down. I think he was beginning to sense my fatigue and was hoping to be adopted by someone else before the day was done. My husband started another magnificent sand castle but the littlest one was quick to start destroying it.

We got there early in the morning and were some of the first to arrive!

Cesar playing in the sand

Bency and Iris playing in the water

We buried Bency in the sand

Cesar destroying Daddy’s sand castle

Dad in the water with the kids

 

There were moments though when I just looked around. I saw the kids laughing and having so much fun. Through my exhaustion I was content sitting in this little slice of heaven being a mom and doing all this stuff for my kids that moms do. It wasn’t about me. It was about giving my kids a really wonderful day and supplying them with a great memory.

On the way home to satisfy my need to know that I had just given my kids the best day ever I asked, “What was your favorite thing you did this summer?”

There was no doubt in my mind that they were going to say the beach. NO DOUBT.

They said…..”That we got to go the library a LOT this summer.”

A little part of me wanted to cry that a canvas bag, library card and an excursion a few blocks away was their favorite.

A little part of me wanted to scream in delight…”Next year we are going to the beach without the kids!!”