Yasha and I name things, our cars, our dwellings. But the names come when they come. Forced names don’t stick. We hadn’t named our current house in the past three years. A few weeks ago we named it Wits End, a name prompted by a confluence of events this summer.
I got busier in late April, which was long enough to see my summer time conflicts coming but not long enough to accomplish proper prep to avoid them. Besides, it wouldn’t have worked. Surprises arose. My dad got sick, twice. In addition to the worry, this cut short our standard summer plans. Other than some logistical hitches, however, coming home early was really only a problem because it meant we were all together, in the house at Wits End, for six poaching-heat weeks. (In Houston, the heat is wet. August doesn’t bake or fry us, it poaches us.)
I just didn’t have any plans for August because in the past August has involved about three weeks of heat avoidance relaxing, late bedtimes, and school prep. That works pretty well. Six weeks of late bedtimes, however, just makes everyone cranky. Cranky children bicker more than well rested ones. We already call the eldest two The Bickersons—at 4:30 in the afternoon they bicker about whether they are bickering and at 10:30 at night they are giggling besties—but when the girls start bickering more than occasionally, I know something is wrong. My tried and true tactic of separating bickering children by sending assortments to my mother’s for sleepovers wasn’t available because my mother moved in with us back in January. (Why I bought a Not So Big House for six people, I don’t know. We have hardly lived alone since we became a sixsome.)
If bickering children wasn’t enough noise, continuing our summer animal adventures an escaped cockatiel flew into our yard in late July. We estimate he’d been
loose for a few days and had learned about hawks and cats. I have an old birdcage in the garden as art; he wanted in. I got lovebirds as a kid by catching a pet shop escapee in our yard. The kids thought this was a way cool parallel event. HGClaudia has already planned to catch parakeets when she has kids. But my mother remembered a different parallel: lovebirds are noisy, very noisy. Cockatiels are too. And the dogs are jealous when we talk to the bird. They bark in protest. All of this is the long way of saying that our house is rarely quiet.
Don’t get me wrong, clan Loftis had a great summer (and my father recovered), but my nerves are frayed and the children are suffering from an excess of togetherness. Penelope Trunk thinks public school, or any outside the home school, is just a glorified form of babysitting. She’s not wrong. That is one of it’s functions. I quibble with the “just”. Among school’s many uses is away time for siblings. By next Friday, I expect bickering levels to return to normal.
That should help my frayed nerves, but the kids only aggravated my frayed nerves this summer. My dad and my writing did the initial work. It was summer, I’d planned a series of happy, funny posts, such as The Diary of A Transplanted Suburban Mom. But events kept bumping the happy stuff. Instead I did fatherhood research complete with heartbreaking interviews, unintended consequences of the contraception mandate, breastfeeding mommy wars, Christian persecution in the Middle East and what we might do about it, Ann Coulter on international charity, the US’s border crisis, and suicide. The suburban mom piece is coming soon if only because I need to write something happier for a round. Girl in a Country Song was about as chipper as my summer writing got.
If you have gotten the impression that I’m looking forward to school starting on Monday, yes, yes I am.