Things I learned this summer:
1. The lyrics to dozens of classic songs to appease the insatiable children who suddenly want all new songs at bedtime. Songs I’ve memorized include Home on the Range, Do Your Ears Hang Low, Polly Wolly Doodle, There’s a Hole in the Bucket, and I’ve Been Working on the Railroad. Useful for bedtime and ending unwanted adult conversations early, for nobody wants to stay in a meeting with someone whistling Polly Wolly Doodle. All six verses.
2. How to plan, prep, and cook four meals a day without any childcare help, ensuring that my kids won’t kill each other or watch t.v. (Hint: pretzels and hummus for dinner) (Second hint: and lunch and breakfast)
3. The name of every sea creature ever discovered. Go here and print out all the cards. Make your kids cut them out, color them, and play with each other. Mine wouldn’t, choosing instead to make me read each card to them. Over and over and over.
4. Scrivener is exactly what my novel and I needed to be better friends. Editing is proceeding slowly but steadily. In addition to learning how to use Scrivener, I’ve learned how to use it while one of the four yowling creatures in my house howls in a different room. Editing and ignoring: skills from the professional world translating to an investment interval at home. Sounds like someone should update her LinkedIn profile.
5. The name of every type of truck used within a 30 mile radius of our house. Butterbean is keenly interested in trucks in a way that rather devastates my desire to raise the boys in a gender neutral, “everyone likes trucks and trains and fairies and glitter” kind of way. Thankfully, he likes pink trucks best, so I’m not too worried. But my willingness to debate skid steer versus front-end loader, dump truck versus tipper truck rather frightens and annoys other parents. And construction workers. And everybody, really, except my youngest child.
6. Several online recipe sites have the chutzpah to categorize bacon posts as vegetarian, asking me to “try making without bacon for a vegetarian option.” Chef? You and I both know recipes made with bacon taste good. Taking out the bacon means not enough salt or flavor. Please don’t tease me. Create a veggie recipe that stands on its own and take this deliciousness out of the veggie category, ‘cuz you’re just taunting us.
7. Buying local costs a heck of a lot more and involves kids throwing major fits and breaking stuff in public. I’m not saying I’m not willing to have more stress and pay through the nose for that stress; I’m just saying consider that in your self-righteous campaigns about how good it is for my community. Try the tagline, “Buy Local: It’s Good For Everyone but You and You Owe It to Your Neighbors to Subvert Your Needs and Sanity for Your Principles!”
8. Six Year Olds are totally old enough to play Scrabble. Since I had children primarily to have Scrabble playmates, my life is finally beginning in earnest.
9. Returning to fencing at 40 has pros and cons. Pros: great exercise, rare opportunity for intense focus, good reason to ditch Spouse with the kids. Cons: knees, ego, knees.
I also learned how to remove creosote from a toddler’s nose, how to make cool alka-seltzer rockets, how to fold paper airplanes, how to switch to fluoride-free toothpaste to thwart a goofball toddler, and to never go on a roadtrip with my children ever again.
But the best thing I learned this summer? Scientists can take a huge robot, mount it on a crane, fit it with an ablating laser, fill it with chemistry sets, launch it 350 million miles into space, and land it safely in a Martian crater. I am so gobsmacked by this real and actual fact of intergalactic engineering I have nothing to say. Congratulations JPL, NASA, and scientists everywhere. You rock space rocks.
Looks as though I’m avoiding the dreaded summer knowledge loss. How about you?