Summer is over! Well, I mean, summer vacation is over. I realize the official first day of Fall is several weeks away, and that here in South Texas we are still in for ridiculous extremes of heat until Thanksgiving. Still, school has started (Praise!), so we can pretend.
The Friday before school started here, I actually had a pretty open day (shocking, I know), so I did what I always end up doing on a day that isn’t too scheduled – I planned to do all kinds of organizing and starting-the-new-school-year-off-right projects. Almost simultaneously as the project planning began, I promptly threw such ambitions out the window (not so shocking) in order to hold a brief (well, it was supposed to be brief) church event planning meeting, do one of the Girls a solid and watch her kids for a bit, and put together an end-of-summer river day for my boys and some of their friends. I just can’t help myself. It’s like a compulsion. And then I wonder why my house is a disaster, my to-do list never shortens and I can’t ever pull off Pinterest-worthy anything. I’m never bored, though, so there’s that.
At some point that Friday, I had 13 children go through my care. I know. I am ridiculous.
It all started with my three kids, of course….and one of my nieces was in town….and the sweet lady from church who came over to meet had her two grandkids….and Steph needed help with two of hers, one of whom is her sweet, adorable, tornado of a son, Aaron (who should probably count as three kids, but I did only count him as one – some of you may know him from the I’ll Be Second blog)…..then Mel’s son came over to hang with Luke and play until Luke’s buddy and his brother came over (because the brother and Mel’s son are BFFs)……Drew’s two friends entered the picture later. It was chaos, complete and utter chaos. There were kids everywhere – running, jumping, coming in and out, getting snacks, asking for water…. Aaron was supposed to have OT that morning, and since his OT and I are friends and co-workers, she braved the nonsense to get in a therapy visit. Brave girl. And he actually did very well, considering the chaos. I was quite impressed with him and his ability to maintain his composure without getting too overstimulated or agitated with all the noise and distractions. He did lose it briefly after his session, though, expressing his displeasure via the clear I-am-done-with-this act of beaming Emry in the face with a cucumber. I am not even kidding. I think we’ve established that I can’t make this stuff up. He also single-handedly demolished all order in my kitchen in a matter of 45 seconds or less, which is how he snagged the cucumber and got a shot off before I could catch him. It was epic. Points for style, coordination and comedic timing. I could barely control my laughter as I attempted to corral/console/admonish.
Luckily for Steph’s precious hubby, I am married to his soul mate, so I barely batted an eye when he showed up to get kids two hours late. I finished cleaning peanut butter off the blinds (don’t ask), threatened and loaded kids and dog into the suburban, then headed out to get the first of Drew’s friends to join us. Hypothetically speaking, we may or may not have been a tad overcrowded in the suburban, and Luke may or may not have ridden in the back with the dog, under strict orders to lie down and not get Mom pulled over. Maybe. In theory. Regardless, we made it in one piece, and I had Drew’s other buddy meet us there so as not to endanger anyone (else) with overcrowding. If that was indeed the case.
Here’s the crew that survived the ride.
Don’t count them. Just trust me.
From this point on, the party started for real. I don’t know that I can adequately describe the intensity of swimming, fishing, wrestling, kayaking, turtle hunting, hot dog eating, laughing, cavorting, treasure-diving craziness that ensued. They had a BLAST!! And you know what? So did I.
I was the only adult in the mix. They were my only guests. So, my focus was different than it usually is when we have tons of people out there or I am visiting with friends. My sole purpose that day was to give them an amazing send-off out of summer. I had a more intense period of one-on-one Emry time than usual. She is hilarious! I mean, I knew that, but got to see it up close and for longer than a few minutes at a time. We held hands and walked into the rapids….suddenly, she stopped, tugged on my hand, and exclaimed in a loud voice, filled with joy, “Oh! I just LOVE the water, Mommy!” She was literally beaming from the inside out. At one point, she was wearing her pink life jacket and purple goggles that were on crooked and smushed her ears into weird shapes. She stood, poised to leap into the rapids and shoot by me so I could catch her as she roared past (one of her favorite games). Her pre-jump proclamation was, “Get ready, Mommy! I’m gonna swim to you. I’m gonna swim to you, like an angel!” (fist pump to emphasize).
In that moment, my heart just soared.
Bliss is the word that resonated through my very bones.
I looked down the river to the boys yelling and laughing and splashing, and an amazing peace washed over me.
I listened to their plans to catch the ultimate turtle, and their promise he would be mine to keep and name…..and I felt so very blessed.
I laughed and I swam and I got a good dunk or two in during the wrestling matches.
I fed them hot dogs, and didn’t worry about whether they were organic.
I let them eat Cheetos and Oreos and drink CapriSuns without checking sugar content.
I cut up a watermelon and let them eat it in the river.
I let the bigger boys stay in the water to fish and play Marco Polo as the sun went down.
I let go – of expectations and worries and should-have-done’s and perfection-seeking, list-making neuroses.
It was sublime.
It was amazing.
It was the perfect end to summer.
And if Paradise includes curly-haired angels with flowered swim suits and mis-sized purple goggles…….
I’m all in.
We threw the turtle back, though. I draw the line at Salmonella.
Solidarity, sisters. I can tell you my love for you will still be strong, after the boys of summer have gone (Come on, 80’s music fans!)