Here & there: On being the ‘Mother of May,’ then charging fearlessly into summer

Stock image, St. George News

FEATURE — Cheeky T-shirts are all the rage right now if you trust Instagram. I bought myself one that says “I’m Ride or Die (until about 9 PM or so).” I recently saw a neighborhood boy sporting one with a solitary slice of pepperoni pizza and a caption above it that read “You Wanna Pizza Me?”

If I were making my own such T-shirt, I’d print one that reads “Mother of May” in bold, aggressive font and wear it all month long. Because if you have kids under 18, May is long and hard.

A friend’s recent Facebook post sums it up nicely:

It would be a really funny joke to take the last two weeks of the school year and cram in all of the recitals, practices, team meetings for next year, fundraisers, school projects, SAGE tests, banquets, auditions, etc. just to see who goes totally crazy and who goes only slightly crazy. Oh wait…

For me and my family, you can add back-to-back out-of-state gymnastics meets and a pair of end-of-season soccer games where the coaches and a few parents lost it a little, and whew, the struggle is real.

But May is the gauntlet through which we must all pass to reach the glory days of summer. Days spent sleeping in, eating popsicles for breakfast and lazing by the pool. No homework. No instruments. No responsibilities. And maybe some fun vacations.

At least that’s how I imagine summer to be during the month of May.

The reality, of course, is that summer can’t be only those things. Kids still need some structure and have to do things like chores and read books. Because you don’t want your kids to get “dumber in the summer.”

Or that’s how a local bookseller framed it to the first-graders I chaperoned on a field trip to her bookshop. She said if kids don’t read over the summer, they lose their gains from the school year.

So my kids will read every day and go to swim practice and take out the trash. And have less screen time than they want and do more weeding than they want.

But I also want them to have time to be carefree. I want them to have memories of summer like I do. Memories of sorting Skittles on the deck of the community pool and riding my bike to 7-Eleven for cinnamon toothpicks. I want them to lie under trees with their friends and get hot – then run through the sprinklers to cool off.

I want these things for them to preserve their childhood. To encourage their innocence. Especially considering the latest terrorist bombing in Manchester, England, where the victims were mostly young people.

When I was a kid, I had worries. But none of them were about terrorist attacks around me.

My oldest son and I were in Las Vegas two weeks ago for one of those out-of-state gymnastics meets in May. In between competition times, we saw a Cirque de Soleil show, explored Hershey’s Chocolate World and walked the Strip.

While we were walking, he noticed how many people packed the sidewalks and commented aloud about how awful it would be if a terrorist took to the streets there, like in Nice, France.

And now a pop star’s concert – and her young fans – are a target. The horror.

No, summer may not be only popsicles and pools, but this summer I’m going to work extra hard to give my boys a carefree couple of months. I’m going to help them wonder at the world, lose time at the park and ride their bikes hands-free, coasting in the breeze.

And maybe they’ll also feel a little more peace and hope, and a little less fear in the world.

Kat Dayton is a columnist for St. George News, any opinions given are her own and not representative of St. George News.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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