A couple of weeks ago, my delightful daughter’s school year ended and the summer began. Because I am a hausfrau full time, this did not involve quite the same type of angst and drama that engulfs the lives of all my friends and associates who are working mothers; but the stay at home mother who is not utterly delighted by engaging in wholesome family activities also finds summer vacations stressful. I personally am not someone who wants to spend my time coming up with fun educational activities for the kid. I don’t have the disposable income or the inclination to take her on Big Trips. What I have is a small budget for summer entertainment, and a lot of time on my hands, and the simultaneous need to keep the house operating the way it’s supposed to the other nine months of the year. In other words: Kid, sure, you’re on summer vacation, but I still have to vacuum and make dinner every night.
And, in fact, since the kid’s not being fed lunch at school five days a week, I have to produce more food than usual, come summer vacation, because I have to scrape together two mid-day meals every day, instead of just scrounging something together for myself.
The first week that school was out, my daughter attended a lovely day camp that’s about a mile from our house. Actually, it’s precisely one mile from our house. I mapped it online: one mile from door to door. She loves the program, which is awesome; I was a child who dreaded all summer camps and it makes me happy that we landed on something that is, by happy circumstance, nearby and a place she loves. They build things, they make things, they do real stuff that teaches them real skills. My daughter can now sew better than I can, and has no fear of pliers. God Bless the Eli Whitney Museum.
But this week, she is not in camp. Nor will she be there next week. So we’ve got two solid weeks ahead of us where the days will be…. long.
With this in mind, last Friday afternoon, we began to compile a list of Things We Could Do that would be entertaining, useful, educational, not too toxic, not too demanding of my energy, and not too expensive. (In other words, her proposal that she and I go on a girl’s trip to Montreal was really appreciated, but I had to veto it.)
One thing I realized was that these would be good days during which to cook things that she’s asked me to make that I never get around to making. Can we make fresh spring rolls? Sure! Can we make ice cream? Sure! These are things we’ll be happy to eat, and in the case of the spring rolls, shopping for ingredients will be half the entertainment. I also expect we’ll spend some time rolling vegetable sushi. (We love sushi, but we’re not stupid: no way am I going to muck around with raw fish at home.)
There will be Beauty Makeovers: I have agreed to let my daughter start to play with my makeup. It’s a shame I no longer have the kind of supplies I had between the ages of 14-25 — she’d have a BLAST with that stuff — but I think we can make do. I will also show her the wonders of Pond’s Cold Cream, while we’re at it.
I told her that we could try to frost glass windows of our apartment using a mixture made of water, dishwashing liquid, and epsom salts. We’ve done the dirty work, and now we’re waiting for it to dry. “Jesus,” I said, watching her make a mess painting. “I hate coming up with activities for you.” “Well, you’re sure good at it though,” she said cheerfully.
We’re on Day 2, people. Day 2. Thursday, the big activity will be going to a radio station in Bridgeport, CT, where I will be a special guest on my associate Duo Dickinson’s radio show. He wants me to talk about being a housewife, and how I make a happy home. (He has this idea that we have a happy home, which I guess I can’t really dispute, even though I am not feeling particularly happy right now.) I think that there’s a lot of towels involved. Really, that’s what it’s all about, it seems to me, on days like this. The key to a happy home is having enough clean towels, to use for all those things you need clean towels for.
And now we’re back to laundry.