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Challenge: Summer Fun

​Why Good Intentions Dominate My Summer

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Each and every summer, I am overflowing with good intentions. Seriously, but I have little to no follow through or at least longevity of follow through. I come off the school year brimming with parenting techniques that would make Piaget jump for joy. My intentions are genuine and I truly convince myself that I have changed for good, but alas, I have not and seemingly cannot. In the areas of technology, food, and finance, I am particularly inhibited. If I am the lone wolf in this area, please don't tell me.

Technology is a daily battle in my mind and the voice in my bed reminds me each and every day that I am said crappy parent. I admit to falsifying my answer on the pediatrician's well-check questionnaire. It accusingly asks, "How many hours per week of television/technology?" The fact that it is per week indicates that I am in trouble and I become suspicious of this passive-aggressive query. Is this even a valid question to ask someone on summer break with four children? During the school year it may be plausible. Perhaps, though, it should be, "How many hours before school?" That would match better with my answer of "one hour." I try so hard, I really do.

I begin the summer strong in my resolution to hide the iPads, change the passwords, unplug the televisions, yell, threaten and then ignore the people who stand firm in my lack of follow through.

They systematically break me down and then I concede defeat and so it goes, the wave of empty technology threats. When I do sustain my tough parenting plan, I feel like I'm living with inmates. They fight, yell, wrestle and bounce from chair to sofa to ottoman like a tribe of monkeys, which always results in hysterical crying and injury. I turn on the TV, the reward I rely upon for injury. And a bag of Doritos.

Food, eating, meals, grocery shopping, family dinners, making lunches are again flavored with good intentions but ultimately tainted with failure, particularly in the summer. We must stay outside as long as possible and so this plan does not mesh with the cooking one. My crowd eats a bunch of crap and I'm reminded of it when I see your child gobbling up tomatoes and avocados. Meanwhile, my 2-year-old starts gagging if a green bean touches his lips. I cringe remembering when my older son proudly told our pediatrician, "I ate a carrot once." I slunk out after paying the demeaning co-pay. In my defense, we do eat a lot of watermelon.

Then there is money and the summer means there are many clambering to spend limited funds on water parks, surf boards, dollar store items, and gift shop nonsense. My older boys, now 10 and 8, have had debit cards since first grade and hang on to them as if they are hotel pass keys. I willingly carry them in my own wallet and pull them out when their buying urges pop up on a trip to the drug store. I silently hand them over and allow the opportunity to make mistakes. It was difficult to watch my oldest son spend $20 on inflatable hammers and baseball bats from a street vendor and then realize they could not be returned regardless of the incredulous tears. Perhaps I'm doing something right?

I'll carry on this summer with my good intentions. We have been better about brushing teeth and everyone is learning to floss; thanks to the dozen cavities. We sent the iPads to work with daddy and got rid of cable. I bought everyone a journal and a few new books and we have plenty of LEGOs. Perhaps I'll stick to my safe zones a while — I don't want to miss all the fun.

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