For the love of all things holy, WHY oh WHY does summer need to be 86 days long? By that I don't mean I need less of the sun and warmth, but 86 days straight with my 3 frat boys to be. I love them dearly, really I do. But at this rate, I'm going to end up in the loony bin before I'm 40. That's right... EIGHTY SIX glorious days to spend with Captain Competitive, Good Time Charlie, and SirWhineAlot (try listening to whining for 86 days and you will want some Prozac). Captain Competitive is driving me CRAZY, he is bouncing off the walls like a crazed lunatic, while Good Time Charlie is pulling his pants down in public and I'm pretty sure will be arrested if he doesn't start preschool TOMORROW. A family unknown to me apparently complained at the pool last night that he was yelling "chocolate penis" too loudly in the food cabana....... honestly.... again, like his beer sale, NOT in the parenting manual!
In May, for some reason that I can't remember, I looked forward to this summer............ kids playing in the sprinklers, on the backyard play set, licking popsicles and drinking lemonade. I envisioned it very Norman Rockwellish. This lasted for about the first 6 days, 3 hours, 18 minutes, and 42 seconds until "MMMMMMOOOOOOMMMMMM.... I'M BORED" kicked in. I loved summer when my kids were very little, especially because they all used to nap, giving me 2-3 glorious hours to myself to recharge my patience and my mental stability (who doesn't need that?). I could give them a bucket of water and a few cups and they'd be busy for hours. Now, they are no longer happy to play in the backyard for 3 months, or the free local playground, or the outdoor library story time. They have moved on to bigger and more expensive places...the waterparks, themeparks, bowling alley's, arcades, funways, just about anything that costs money, they have either found or heard of (If you are a Cartoon Network or PBS Kids marketing executive, please stop advertising these places on Chicago TV. Thank you very much. Sincerely, a very exhausted, broke mother).
So I have decided to call this my million dollar summer. It's so much cheaper to have my kids in school.......... no one is insisting they need 18 snacks a day, or just one more juice box, or another pack of silly bands (don't you wish you were the guy who invented those???), or a 4$ popsicle at the local pool, or a pack of gum at 7 Eleven (where my twins have been nicknamed by the owners "the tornados"), or just one more junky souvenir at the gift shop, or one more happy meal at the golden arches.
Captain Competitive came home the last day of school with a FREE ticket to Six Flags that he earned for reading 300 minutes in 6 weeks or something like that. He kept telling me we just HAD to go, after all, it was free. This a great marketing gimmick by Six Flags I must admit. Have you ever been to Six Flags? It's a concrete jungle off a Chicago expressway, and this particular day happened to feel like a thousand degrees. I will preface my complaints by admitting that I'm spoiled. I grew up at Disney World, where all your dreams come true and the customer is always right. So I pull into Six Flags and they want 20$ to park. Yes, 20$ to park my car in a lot big enough for the entire city. And the parking attendant is NOT smiling. I knew right away that this was no Magic Kingdom. Then I pay my own 35$ fare, 3$ for a bottle of cold water, 3$ for a sprite for Captain Competitive, 10$ for a kids meal, 11$ for my own lunch, 17$ for a locker (yes, you read that right.. SEVENTEEN dollars), and 6$ for a souvenir on the way out. And no one smiled at me. 105$ dollars later, Captain Competitive says to me, "Mom, isn't this such a great day? And Mom, it's free!" Oh yes I think to myself, it's just exactly how I wanted to spend this ninety degree day, I'm so glad we are here.
I of course did not take the dynamic duo with us, because after all, you have to be six to go to Six Flags, that's why it's named that. And since I am a professional at parenting through falsehood, they believed me. But they have their own ways of sucking my wallet dry this summer. Sir WhineAlot has learned this summer that at certain places we belong to, he can "charge" snacks simply by giving the waitresses his cute smile and his last name. He too thinks that charging with your name means everything is free, like the secret credit card I had in college that I hoped would magically pay itself off one day. One particular day this summer we were at a 4th of July function with my family. The kids were off at the moon jumps enjoying themselves when we discovered Luke was missing. My dad and I start frantically looking around all the food booths and moon jumps. It didn't take long to discover him at the Snow Cone machine, happily licking a red snow cone. The snow cone lady quickly pointed out on her tab sheet that he had already charged six snow cones on my account. Thanks snow cone lady. Three weeks later, his 18$ worth of snow cones arrived on my bill in the mail. Cha Ching.
Last week, we made our last pilgrimage to the city, it was our last big outing of the summer before mom's wallet is closed for the season. After a morning at the Shedd Aquarium, I decided to take the kids to Navy Pier. I told them we could do everything we could find on Navy Pier that was free. I was thinking what a great trip this was going to be.... we were going to be creative, inventive, make our own fun........ it was going to be wonderful. It was nothing short of a disaster.... there is only one thing to do on Navy Pier that is free, and that is WALK. And walking around with 3 tired, crabby, kids who are dying to go on the 10$ fun maze and buy a a 5$ frozen lemonade is NOT enjoyable, even with a cold beer in my hand. So after much complaining and cajoling, we left for the day, back to the suburbs to play in the sprinkler and drink the lemonade they had left in the fridge from their beer sale.
My wallet is closed now and tomorrow morning, the glorious sound of the school bell will ring at 9:00am, transporting me and all the other mothers back into the world of sanity. Next summer, they are all going to boot camp, and hopefully it's free. I know for me, it will be priceless!