Last week, I sat on Jacob’s bed to say goodnight and felt a bit of water on the carpet next to his bed. I immediately jumped to the conclusion that he had spilled his water and hadn’t bothered to clean it up. Rather than launch into my usual rant about his messy behaviour, I asked: “Why is there water on your floor?”
His response shocked me: “I actually put it there.”
“What? You need to dry up spills. It’s a carpet – you can’t leave water there.”
“Uh…. I did it on purpose.”
“You poured it?”
“Well… not exactly. I actually spit it.”
“Are you for real? You don’t pour – or spit – water on the floor!!! What were you thinking?”
By this point, Jacob was kind of smiling, but he was sincere.
“I hate it when my feet are hot at night. So I thought if I had a little puddle next to my bed, I could dip them in and keep them cool.”
I had to laugh. What do you say to something like that? When I told our friend Steve, he suggested that Jacob might be on to something: “Not that spitting water on the carpet is okay, but maybe a bowl or something like that makes sense.” When I told Geoff Roberts, Head of Crescent School for boys, he shrugged, “He’s a boy.” Clearly this is beyond a woman’s comprehension.
What I said to Jacob, that night on the bed, after I stopped laughing, was my best advice: “Do me a favour and don’t tell anyone.”
At that point, with perfect timing, his younger sister walked in. Kathleen didn’t miss a beat: “I will tell EVERYONE.” I don’t need to describe the sibling squabbling that ensued.
So with ten days left of school, and two long summer months ahead of us, I am feeling a bit anxious about my ability to manage these kids without the assistance of school.
They’ll be away some of the time – two weeks at Camp Onondaga and one week in Algonquin with their Dad and cousins. (The house alone is a cherished opportunity – there is a special place in heaven for Dads who take kids away without Mothers, especially when it involves sleeping in tents.)
But I’m actually really looking forward to time together too. Maybe your household is the same, but ours is a pretty rushed place and we are trying to calm it down. I believe the summer should be a time to hit pause….see what comes of a day.
I often remind myself of this – any frustration with kids never lasts. The spills, spits, and squabbles build the growing repertoire of family stories told around around the table, and better yet, around the campfire.
ps – As always, I checked with my kids before publishing this. Jacob said, “Why would I mind? Two men agreed with my idea – and one of them is a Head of School.”
pps – In case you missed Saturday’s Globe, there was an article about our boarding project.