Our First Unstructured Summer Day

This feels like the first real day of summer vacation where I can breathe.

(That’s not because I suffer from any kind of allergies, because I don’t.  Sometimes that makes me feel a bit guilty, because Hubs and the boy are allergic to every airborne speck and particle that man has been able to identify with the naked eye and the Hubble telescope.)

(Alfalfa?  Check.  Hubs and the boy can’t breathe.  Pollen?  It kills them.  Cotton that floats through the air from the Cottonless Cottonwoods that lied about their identities?  Hubs’ eyes swell shut and the boy hits a level of allergy drama known as DEFCON 2.  Lilacs?  Eucalyptus?  Meteorite dust?  Moon fibers?  They’re all potential weapons of biological warfare for my big boys, while I skip through them all, with my eyes wide open and yell out, “I can see!  And my eyeballs aren’t red!  And I can breathe!”)

(Jesus and I are working on my humility.)

(And my tendency to make fun of allergy-sufferers.)

(Amen.)

Our summer has been a whirlwind of THIS and THAT and THE OTHER and WHOA, LOOK AT US NOW!  We left town to see Keith and Carrie and the elephants and the Rockies at bat for four days.  We chased that with dumping the boy off at summer camp for a week the day after we got home.  We followed that up by a very spontaneous chemistry camp that we found out about at the last minute, as well as the boy’s friend, John, staying on as a house guest for three days.  It’s all been a blur of summer fun, people.

We brought the boy home from camp, with every good intention of laying low like we were members of the Witness Protection Program for a while, so that the boy could recover from all the NOT SLEEPING he did on the mountain.  His cousins were headed to a camp in the opposite direction two days after the boy came home, and he turned down their invitation to go with them, because he said he needed to sleep.

So he slept.

For fourteen hours in a row.

And he took two naps, on back-to-back days, which hasn’t happened since he was three years old.

And then Kellen called and said, “Dude!  Are you going to the chemistry camp that starts on Monday?”

We had no idea.  But once the boy caught wind of WE WILL BE BUILDING CANNONS THAT REALLY FIRE OUT OF ETHANOL, he could talk of nothing else.  Sadly, it was Saturday night, and the registration deadline had been Friday at noon.  Y’all know how comfortable I am calling a camp director and saying, “Excuse me, but we didn’t get our marbles in the same sack on time, so we didn’t get registered by the cutoff point, and… well… could we just slip in, late and unnoticed, because my boy thinks that the final act entitled THE APOCALYPSE might actually happen if he doesn’t get to make ethanol cannons.”

I hate being the one who requests special favors.

(I’m a rule-follower, which is why I never run red lights, like Christy does.  Christy says that red lights are mere guidelines to suggest that there is a possibility of other vehicles traveling in the opposite direction.  She has sworn that if you pull up at a red light and see no other cars coming at you, you are free to cross the intersection, regardless of the red beacon that the Department of Transportation insists is a definite symbol for STOP MOVING.)

For my boy, I emailed the camp director.  I sheepishly told him that I was a failure as a mother, for not knowing about this camp ahead of time, and that my son was on the fast track for a Nobel Prize.  He needed this chemistry camp for completion.

The director informed me that the words CHEMISTRY CAMP had obviously implied SCHOOL, SCHOOL, SCHOOL, and perhaps WE WILL BE MEMORIZING THE PERIODIC TABLE DURING YOUR COVETED SUMMER VACATION, because they had sixteen slots for kids in the camp…

…and eight slots were filled.

He took the boy under his wing.  We were in.  Chemistry camp would run Monday through Wednesday, for three-and-a-half hours, right here in Small Town, USA.

Cue the boy’s friend, John, who lives in Bigger Town.  He was here for a day-long visit on Sunday, and the boy said, “Chemistry camp,” while he was drooling and swinging his arms from side to side like an excited hunchback.  Ethanol cannons happen to be one of John’s love languages, too, so right there… right there on Sunday evening… it was decided that John would move in with us for three days, while his mother returned to Bigger Town, and he would learn about alcohol and it’s ability to do more in this world than take the edge off of people.

Mainly, that it can be used as an explosive device when it comes too close to an open flame.

Ten of the sixteen slots were filled, and John had a duffel bag filled with new underwear and T-shirts from Walmart, since he was unprepared to be a house guest anywhere.

The boys went to camp at 9:00 Monday morning.  As it turned out, the boy knew everyone in the class.  The wolf pack had been gathered.

He pronounced the ethanol cannon to be one of the most magnificent wonders the modern world has ever witnessed.

He obviously hasn’t seen a computer program that will resize dozens of pictures in less than three seconds.

In the afternoons, I ended up with boys here.  Boys, boys and more boys.  Boys piled into our Suburban after camp let out at 12:30 each afternoon, and they came home to my house to eat everything but the bag of flour out of my pantry.

They went swimming.  They went golfing.  They jumped off of the playhouse deck and shot one another with Nerf darts.

Chemistry camp wrapped up yesterday, and the boy declared it was the most amazing three days of his life.

That is a code phrase for WE BLEW STUFF UP, AND WE LIT STUFF ON FIRE!

Yesterday afternoon, we headed for Bigger Town to return John to his mama, and to get the boy’s braces tightened at the orthodontist.

Before we left, the boy slammed his finger in the door of our Suburban.

We went to DEFCON 1.

Thing 2 howled, because he has a raging double ear infection, which explains all the coughing at night.  Four twelve-year-old boys tried to wrestle Thing 2 around yesterday afternoon, and he bit three of the four of them.

Yes.  Thing 2 is a biter.

I am THAT MOTHER at the playground.

The Mother of the Biter, which is even worse than The Mother of the Sand Thrower.

While we were in Bigger Town yesterday, I made the boy enter a dressing room to try shorts on, because his pediatrician assured us that it wasn’t just an illusion — the boy really had grown practically two inches in less than five months.

And we can’t forget the part where he gained ten pounds in that same amount of time, because THAT is the part the boy is most proud of.  He thinks he gained all ten pounds in his shoulder muscles.  Hubs assured him that the ten pounds is all due to a shaggy mop of hair that needs cut.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it or not, but shopping for clothing with my boy makes me want to get fish bones stuck in my throat, just so I can transfer the pain to something physical, which is easier to bear.

We got four pairs of shorts.  It’s all the boy could take before he announced, “I can wear these four pairs, over and over.  I’m done.”

By that time, I was sitting in a corner of the fitting room’s waiting area, chain smoking cigarette stubs I pulled out of an ashtray.

And that is why today… when we had NOTHING written on our calendar… felt like the first free day of summer vacation.

It’s also the day that we noticed that having pre-teen boys around the house for THREE ENTIRE DAYS AND NIGHTS will bring you to a state of famine.  We were either going to have to trek to Egypt and ask Joseph for some grain, or head to Walmart for more Pop Tarts.

Walmart was much closer.

Plus, I think there’s a lot of cooking and baking involved, when you just have grain that isn’t already processed somehow into a delicious Pop Tart and covered in chocolate frosting.

The boy and I dropped Thing 2 off with Grammy, Cousin R and Cousin A.  We put on our grown-up attitudes.  We put on our GRIN AND BEAR IT smiles.  And we went in for the BIGGEST GROCERY HAUL OF 2013…

…while Thing 2 played and went to the park in the stroller, and never had to navigate the aisles filled with the elderly on Senior Citizen Discount Day, who park their walkers side-by-side, so that AISLE CLOSED; DETOUR THROUGH AISLE NINE signs needed to be set up everywhere.

There’s Cousin R:

IMG_5392And Cousin A:

IMG_5388And their young charge, who said, “Alright, ladies!  I don’t have all day.  Get my shoes on my feet, and let’s get this stroller rolling forward, before I jump out and push it myself.  Chop, chop!”

IMG_5391_resizedIMG_5389IMG_5384_resized IMG_5385By the time the boy and I finished shopping and restocked our refrigerator, the girls had plum, dadgum worn Thing 2 out!  He came home and took a three-hour nap.

IMG_5382_resized IMG_5381_resizedWhich is pretty much what the boy and I did, too.  Walmart will do that to a person.

And since there was nothing else penned in on our calendar today FOR THE FIRST TIME IN JUNE, we could do whatever we wanted.

Except make another ethanol cannon prototype, because we didn’t have the supplies on hand.

Thank goodness.

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