For our vacation, or my husbands vacation, we took two weeks off. You may have seen from earlier posts the first week of that was in Virginia with my husbands family. The second week we were to head down to Huntsville, Alabama to see my husbands friend who just got back from his stent in Peace Corps. Thankfully I also still have my brother and father there and my best friends as well.
Most of the time we dropped my husband with his friends, or he spent the night with them (with the exception of the Fourth, that was an obligatory- I spend my life with your family, one day with mine won’t kill you- moment) and a couple of times he tried to include us. This was my third time in the area in the past six months so spending time outside and with my friends and family, when I wasn’t sick, snowed in, or there for a funeral was great.
Lucky for us the drive was drizzly yet beautiful. We too a route that brought us a way we had never been before. Honestly didn’t know Alabama could be so beautiful.
I didn’t take as many picture as I should have and some are on a disposable camera, making it more authentic to how I was when I grew up. My summers were filled with just being outside. Friends pools were my second home. Four Wheelers and John-Deere Gators on dirt trails with small jumps winding through the woods behind out lot. Late night flash light tag and hide and seek was a favorite, and the two acres was big enough for small kids to have plenty of room but small enough where when 10 o’clock hit we could hear our parents tell us time to come in. I don’t think we had a bed time in summer. We had mass sleep overs and backyard camp outs.
As a parent. I am nothing like my parents. And while I thought this was a good thing, it took being with my brother to realize its time to remove the stick from my ass. I am the BIGGEST helicopter mom. I can always see and at the very least hear my children. I have always showed them or told them why EVERYTHING is dangerous. For the most part the animals they have seen were those locked in “cages” at the zoo. I have spent so much energy on being NOTHING like my parents that I over-looked the great things they gave us.
So on the second day of being at my brothers home, I come in from the grocery store and when I thought the kids were behind me or at the very least on the porch, and then realized they weren’t, I panicked a little. My sister-in-law reassured me that they were probably at her dads (her and my brother live on the same 12 acres as her father) and not to worry, her oldest Katie would be watching them and it would be fine. When my persistent and I’m sure annoying worrying became too much, she walked me down the drive to her parents house only in time for me to hear and see a child-sized four-wheeler whizzing past with my son on the back with the most expressive high-eyebrowed, mouth open excitement I have ever seen on his freckled face. Well if her six year old can drive it, sure mine can ride. Besides, he is so happy… what kind of monster would take that away?
We walk down further to the house and C has been entertained by a litter of kittens. She is carrying them around one at a time flung
over her forearm like the latest Gucci bag switching them out as each one became exhausted by her or until she realized maybe she hasn’t cuddled that one yet. It wasn’t but a few minutes after I arrived until what I was fearing was a fact and everything was fine. The kids wanted to get in the pool.
It’s not that my kids don’t get into pool often (they actually hadn’t so much before this), they spend more time at the beach. I’m not sure why I find a pool to be more frightening. I think its because I’m not in control. My parents lack of control has made me so much more controlling the worst micro-managing way. My sister-in-laws parents were there in the pool and therefore the kids were fine.
We spent the evening being outside before going back to ready our bed.
Everything was fine.
And that set the tone for the trip. I got to spend time with the kids, most of the time outside. They swam in all the pools, played with all the pets, rescued turtles and caught bugs, and even played with fire.
I’m hoping that my kids remember the summer they had no real bed time, they got to chase chickens and see old friends and meet new ones, saw and met family they didn’t know they had, and got to experience the way I grew up. The only thing we didn’t do was go fishing at the river. I must be honest although I was good at catching fish, I have always felt too posh to bait my own worms and minnows.
I have to assume, I am not the only parent who has tried to rob their children of a truly amazing childhood that will inevitably make them more self-sufficient people. So now after hear a story on NPR I MUST get this book and see what else I am robbing my children of.