Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Back to School

When I was a kid, we didn’t go back to school until after Labor Day. Nowadays here in California, our kids return in August. My boys went back yesterday. I was always opposed to starting school before Labor Day, but only on the grounds of it being different than my childhood. I am just now beginning to understand the thinking behind moving it up.

I have been holding down my post here as the new Mr. Mom since mid-July, and as such, I have been forced to be within a few feet of all three of our boys for every single minute of every waking hour of every single week and weekend day for a whole lot of days in a row. I have to tell you, I might not be cut out for this.

I used to get to leave. Sure, when I did I had to go to an office and work, but still, I got to leave. I never realized how much they fight with each other. It’s not the fighting that I mind so much, it’s the whining about it that annoys me.

(Son in whiny, sniffle-ly voice) “He punched me in the stomach!”
(Other son in whiny defensive voice) “He wouldn’t get off my face!”
(Me in annoyed voice) “You were wrestling with each other for five minutes. What did you think would happen?!? Go read a book. You hardly ever get punched when you’re doing that.”
(Two ultra-whiny voices in stereo) “I don’t want to read!”
(Me in even more annoyed voice) “Then why don’t you move to North Korea.”
grumble, grumble
“Can we watch TV instead?”
“No. I want you to be sharper, not duller.”

I don’t know when they start school in the far northern and far southern regions of California, where the weather is mild in the summer, and frankly I don’t care. Here in the Sacramento region it gets hotter than the hinges of hell in July and August. I would gladly take them outside for an enjoyable activity where we could bond and grow stronger and happier as father and sons, but it’s like the surface of the sun out there. It was 106 degrees a few days ago. That’s just stupid.

The other day, when I simply couldn’t stand being inside the same building as my three sons for another moment, I broke down and took them on a bike ride. Since it was 104 degrees, the plan was to ride to the water park, run around in the refreshing spray for a while, then ride back in our wet clothes, feeling nice and cool. No such luck. We arrived, sweaty and partially cooked, to a dry water park. A little red girl in a swimsuit with heat waves coming off her shoulders informed us that the plumbing was broken.

They should send out a warning signal or something. Son Number Three nearly exploded from the heat on the way back. He’s much blonder than the other two. Son Number One and Two used up all the available swarthy DNA my wife and I had to offer, and all that was left for Number Three was the blond-haired, blue-eyed, translucent-skinned Nordic genes. We usually just hold him upside down by his ankles and dip him into a 55-gallon drum of sunscreen before we leave the house.

Number One’s tire went flat halfway home. I briefly considered leaving him and saving the other two. My wife would understand that there was nothing I could do, right? After reconsidering, we stuck together and walked our bikes back, just making it to our door as our shoes began to melt. Son Number Three had stopped sweating, which is a bad sign, so we all took emergency cold baths and showers while drinking ice water. Close call.

So, what did the boys want to do after we had all cooled off and returned to the proper color? They wanted to set up a lemonade stand. Are you kidding me? We just narrowly escaped that furnace, and you want to go back? Look out at our street, son. Look through those heat waves coming off the asphalt and tell me what you see. You know what you see? Nothing. Nobody. Nada. Everyone is indoors. If I let you sit out there trying to sell lemonade, you will die long before the first customer happens by in their air-conditioned vehicle. And if by chance someone is dumb enough to be outside right now, do you know what they don’t want? They don’t want to buy a shot glass-sized Dixie cup of hot lemonade from a red, flaming kid with heat stroke. Go find a book.

Not only is summer too hot, it is also too long. I’m fine with school getting out at the beginning of June, but we don’t need ten weeks to “rest.” Now that I am Mr. Mom, I fully support an early start, and suggest that next year we have a nice four-week break and send them back right after the Fourth of July.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2013 Marc Schmatjen

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