Tonawanda News — Twenty-three days. Over the course of the kids’ summer break, that is how many days I got with them.
They were home pretty much every day, in some form. But for those 23 days, I was off of work and therefore able to dedicate my entire day to Penny and Rigby.
As you read this, those days have ended. They are now back to school. Rigby is enthralled with entering everyday, all-day pre-K. Penny is already complaining about having to report to first grade each morning.
Now, summer got a bit hectic at times. I wrote about some of the more turbulent moments of having the kids around every minute of every day. And summer presented its fair share of issues I could never really find an effective solution to — like how does a father with a son who still needs to be escorted to the bathroom and a daughter who’s too old for the men’s room but too young to really walk around in public alone manage bathroom time at the fun park?
But, potty problems aside, I don’t get enough time with the kids, certainly not as much as I’d like. I’m kind of sad to see them go back to school. I work weekends, so this means the next time I will spend an entire day with them will pretty much be Thanksgiving.
Penny has been going to school every day for a few years now, so while I don’t enjoy the lack of time with her, I am at least used to it. And I had Rigby there — every day at first, then three days a week last year when he was in twice-weekly preschool. So I at least got to “be the boys” with him every so often.
Now, though, it’s just the adults. And, don’t get me wrong, there are positives to be had. I’ve told myself all summer I will use all that time to return to the gym in full force (here’s hoping I follow through). Mommy and I can return to thrift shopping and other ventures — ya know, silly things like the dishes and laundry — without adolescent intervention. And sleep, precious sleep, can finally return to my life at pre-recession levels.
Since I can take advantage, I might as well. But I sort of enjoyed taking the kids places during weekdays (excellent for avoiding crowds). Finding Nemo in his aquarium habitat isn’t quite the same without Rigby exclaiming in amazement that he’s still there.
And during the school year, even getting to those cavernous mornings and afternoons can be an endeavor. School starts early enough where my daughter has to be prodded — and I mean PRODDED — to get up, dressed and fed in time to get out the door. Rigby isn’t as much of a sleeper yet — I’m writing this at 6 a.m. after having been up for a half-hour already — but his time will come (yeah, schools, I’m saying the day should start and end an hour later every day. Get on it).
Anyway, these mornings are a struggle, as they were for me during a childhood in which I had to combine my two least-favorite things — waking up early and going to school — five days a week. They’re a far cry from our more leisurely summer mornings, where Rigby might have me up pre-dawn, but we’d eat breakfast whenever the heck we felt like it and perhaps play outside barefoot or take a walk before showering to start the day.
And as much as I love hearing my daughter lament the unfairness and vapidity of having to attend school every day, I’d just assume hear Penny pick where she wants to go for our next date.
Mind you, I know life can’t be that way. Realistically, our kids as a nation should go to school more as it is, so I can’t advocate for them not to do so. And they need to learn the importance of going to school and working hard — something I hope they get from seeing me report to work each day instead of staying home with them like I’d prefer.
So, as much as I’d love to keep them close, I have to let Penny and Rigby go. That’s what’s better for them, to learn responsibility and work ethic.
As for me? Well, I’ll always have Thanksgiving. And my 23 days next summer. I’m looking forward to it.
Contact Paul Lane at email@example.com.