Summer of My Discontent

I’m getting really paranoid about summer. It’s messed up, I know. People yearn for summer all year long. But I dread it. It is, unequivocally, the most difficult season for us to navigate. All the things that most people love about summer–unstructured days, kids on holiday from school, family vacations–are the things which make life at our house go from “sort of managing” to “completely falling apart.” Every year it’s the same thing: kids get out of school, Jack struggles with changes in routine, I work like crazy trying to fill the days with endless sensory activities, and then sometime around mid to late July everything starts imploding despite my best efforts.

Everyone asks if Jack goes to school in the summertime. He does, but it is only for a handful of days sprinkled over a few weeks throughout the summer. I appreciate that he has SOMETHING to go to in order to maintain his goals, but it’s not nearly enough. It’s always right around the time that his summer school wraps up in July that he begins his (now quite predictable) downward behavioral spiral.

There was the summer when, anytime he felt bored or mad, Jack would get into the cupboard of beautiful stemware I inherited from my mother in law, and theatrically smash one on the floor. There was the summer of pooping on the trampoline (watch out–those aren’t pine cones!). There was the summer of screaming and throwing things whenever he saw his then-one-year-old brother (which happened approximately eight dozen times each day). Last summer was the summer of epic car mishaps which featured Jack having massive meltdowns during car rides, Jack having to wear a dad-fashioned strapping device which kept him in his seat when his seatbelt wouldn’t, Jack kicking Mom’s head and the back of her seat while she was driving, and Jack smearing poop all over the interior of the car. Lest you think I am prone to embellishment, let me reassure you that I am totally not making any of this up.

I used to love summer. I WANT to love summer. I wish that having all my children at home together meant fun, carefree, memorable times. Historically though, it’s simply an exercise in endurance. I’ve mentally compared it to a marathon, except let’s get serious here–marathons end after just 26.2 miles. Our summers stretch on forever.

I’ve begun my annual spring brainstorming sessions wherein I evaluate where each kid is developmentally, and try to construct a plan for getting through it. I’m thinking about starting a weekly practice outing in the car where one of the therapists accompanies us to a) model appropriate car behavior and b) redirect any flying feet which might be aimed at the baby, the preschooler, or my head. With enough practice and positive reinforcement, Jack might come around and hopefully we can avoid a repeat of last year. I have lots of strategizing and organizing to do before June 1st rolls around. It’s a good thing I’m still housebound and it’s still snowing outside 🙂

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