We have nearly two full months of this school year under our belts around here and it’s safe to say we’re getting our sea legs. The morning routine is running relatively smoothly, the car pools are worked out for after school karate, the volunteer slots are in the calendar, the pantry and fridge are full of the additional snacks needed to get through a long school day, my work schedule is finally a reliable schedule again and things are puttering along in a safely predictable manner.
And yet, I wouldn’t be writing if there wasn’t something unusual happening.
When I got pregnant, my mom idol (another mom of two boys who seems to have her world together with just the right combination of discipline and laissez-faire-ness whose house seems to always be clean and her boys well behaved and generous) congratulated me with the promise of more time because two kids, “they will play together!”
I have a sister. I understood the concept of sibling play. I honestly didn’t get why this was such a revelation or gift.
This summer, the boys definitely caught on to having each other as play mates. Their three year age difference an issue, but less so this year than last. They can both hold their own in suggesting pretend games, they are getting better at using sentences rather than fists to persuade the other to their preferred mode of play and their interests are evolving in a way that allows them to come together over a common ninja problem rather than Darth Vader battling the Island of Sodor with tears as the result of a track destroyed by the force.
But the long days of summer were sometimes too long or too much together time or spent shuttling one kid to camp and the other to a play date and fitting in pool time. Not to mention the rain. The all consuming, unending, soul crushing rain that has defined the Summer of 2013 in Atlanta.
So I was moderately surprised to realize that my afternoons are relatively breezy after school. The 7 year old gets off the bus, watches a show (we’ve found it’s the best way to allow him to peacefully decompress from a busy day and loud bus ride), completes his homework and then he and his brother play. Together. Until dinner.
Sure, I have to break up the occasional disagreement or moderate a “he won’t do it my way” standoff, but all in all, my afternoons are suddenly free of hard core, involved play responsibilities. Part of me is thrilled to not have to play Candy Land 30 times an afternoon, but the other part of me is sad to know they don’t need me as much anymore. The silver lining, other than the Candy Land thing, is that they now have each other. They build tracks and race cars and create scenarios and chase and ride bikes and scooters on the sidewalk in front of the house and make a holy mess of their room, the playroom, the living room.
So I am adjusting to having time in the afternoon to read a magazine article, make a bed or sneak in some work.
But I am relishing those days when a little voice calls from the play room, “Mom, will you play Legos with me?”