To add to his angst, we just sent his big brother off with one of his best buddies for a Spring Break 2008 adventure. Jordan and his friend, Ricky, are taking their first cross-country train trip. In brother’s mind, this is the height of injustice. While Jordan is frolicking and gamboling about in the hills of West Virginia, he has been left behind, consigned to a week of boredom and never-ending work.
I actually used to feel terrible about it. While others were off making memories with their kids, we were stuck in Wakarusa like moss on a log. I worried that the boys were somehow being deprived of a full, rich childhood because we weren’t doing something fantastic over spring break. I traveled far and wide on a trip of my own called “guilt.”
Until two years ago. It was Spring Break 2006 that Kieran, then seven, learned to ride his bike. After years of happily pushing bikes all over the property, it finally clicked. With some coaching from his brother, he just hopped on and started pedaling. Suddenly a whole new world opened before him. There were places to go and things to do. Things like staging a rodeo, for instance. Aided by their colorful imaginations, their bikes were transformed into whinnying stallions. No longer was Copper a mere beagle. He became a raging, angry bull, which the young cowboys would chase on their able steeds. Around and around the barn they went with Copper’s leash flying. This, they told me, actually served two purposes. First, they could pretend that it was a lasso, thus showcasing their skill and ability at hitting the target. On a more practical note, it made it much easier to catch him when the rodeo was over. A cowboy would lunge at the “bull” as he blew by, grab the “lasso,” and trot him over to the “stable (doghouse).”
For two solid days they rodeoed. Even the neighbor girl was pulled in by the excitement and brought her own “horse” over to join in the fun. Looking at their sunburned faces, freckles popping, I decided the guilt trip was useless and I unpacked my bags. Our boys were doing what some never really have a chance to do – just being boys. With the sun, the wind, a dog, and a great imagination, it was a time of childhood innocence and freedom. And it was good.
So what are my expectations for our spring break? I expect to hear toast popping up at 10:30 in the morning. I expect there will be boys sleeping in, then getting up to sip hot chocolate in their PJs. I expect that they will at least try to play PS2 until their eyeballs fall into their laps, barring parental intervention.
I expect that for once the laundry will be folded and put away as soon as it’s washed. I also expect that it will take an act of Congress to accomplish this. However, as the little constituents are minors and don’t get a vote, I expect to install myself as the Congresswoman of our small district and pass the act that will ensure the work gets done.
Having regrouped from a failed attempt over Christmas break, I expect that three boys with fast-chomping teeth will conduct another covert pantry operation. I also expect that their efforts will be utterly frustrated by their mother who, to their chagrin, can hear a chip bag rustle from a floor above.
I expect there were will be a low point or two where I consider making a spring break, alright – a break for the piney woods. But I won’t, because I know that one by one the small “non-voters” will leave the “district” and the house will be still and the pantry undisturbed.
I expect that there will be a game night at the coffee shop. Hearing laughter in our four walls is guaranteed. I expect that someone will declare a Bugs Bunny Saturday where we gather to watch Bugs go up against the Gashouse Gorillas and win again. There will be sleepovers and Ripstiking.
What I expect, really, is a week of togetherness, enjoying each other’s company and making rather ordinary memories that will seem extraordinary when we look back years later. Whatever you do over spring break, I hope it’s extraordinary, too.