The Summer of Responsibility

Summer vacation started for us on June 12, but with sports camps during the day, travel lacrosse practice at night and lacrosse tournaments on the weekend, it hasn’t felt much like a vacation.  I’m still waking the boys up early for (camp) carpools, still packing daily (camp) lunches, still rushing through dinner to get to practice on-time and still yelling my head off about their lack of cooperation.  A few days ago, I realized that the boys still hadn’t emptied their school backpacks.  Know what I found inside?  Their summer reading lists and math packets, about ten pounds of crumpled class projects and ripped notebooks, an endless supply of broken crayons and dried out markers, multiple capless pens and highlighters, the missing house key, two slimy water bottles and — here’s the best part — a half-eaten, rock solid brownie and a moldy, turkey sandwich.  Are you kidding me?!  Later that same day, I read a fabulous piece on Huffington Post by M.Blazoned that made me feel better.  It was an open letter to her kids, sarcastically inviting them to be lazy, messy and inconsiderate sloths for the summer.  She’d pick up their slack, no problem.  It was hysterical … and right on point.

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I do a lot for my boys.  As a mom who doesn’t work outside of the home (note: I despise the term, “SAHM”), it’s my job to take care of the house and everyone in it.  I get that.  But I do require a certain amount of cooperation and assistance.  Both boys are expected to make their own bed each morning, set and clear the table each night, bring down their dirty laundry on wash days and take out the trash when asked.  They do not get paid for these “chores,” just as I don’t.  They also do not receive an allowance.  In the Tarr household, we all pitch in out of love and respect.  But lately, I haven’t been feeling the love or the respect and, frankly, I’m spent.  That moldy, 2-week-old sandwich sent me over the edge so I have declared this “The Summer of Responsibility,” or TSOR for short.  My kids are not thrilled, but they are on-board … mainly because they don’t have a choice.

During the school year, I often go easy on the boys when the schedule is crowded, cutting them slack if their beds aren’t made before school or if they skip setting the table to finish homework.  But as we enter the fourth week of summer, with less on our schedule now that travel lacrosse has ended, we are taking it up a notch.  TSOR is a simple concept, modeled after the famous “Just Do It!” Nike slogan … If you want it, just do it yourself.  It sounds harsh, but this is the only way I see us surviving the remaining eight weeks of summer togetherness.

On one hand, my TSOR concept is selfish.  Everyone needs to pitch in more so I can relax more (and bitch less).  On the other hand, it’s completely unselfish.  I am giving the boys an opportunity to grow and mature.  They’ll learn how to scramble eggs, sort laundry and maybe even use the vacuum properly.  The way I see it, TSOR is really a gift, and it’s not even their birthdays!

So despite my positive spin, just how bad will it be at the Tarr house this summer?  Depends on who you ask …

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Mainly, the boys will be responsible for feeding, cleaning and entertaining themselves.  While I’m generally not a supporter of the “every man for himself” approach in life, I am encouraging — no, demanding — that everyone pick up after themselves for the next eight weeks.  And not just when they are asked.  Here are some examples of what I mean:

  • Did you just use a glass?  Don’t leave it in the family room, please.  It’s only a few steps to the dishwasher.  Besides, I know you won’t reuse that glass anyway.
  • Were you reading a book?  Fantastic, but please put it back on the shelf in your own room.  I won’t be reading it, so no need to leave it out for me.
  • Watched TV?  Be sure to turn it off and put the remote control some place we can all find it.  And if you really want to impress me, straighten up the couch pillows afterwards.  My mind will be blown!
  • Hungry for a snack?  Help yourself, but please don’t leave the evidence.  Our house is big, but I can find you without having to follow your trail of crumbs, I swear.

It’s not like I’m asking the boys to scrub floors or wash windows in place of swimming and playing.  TSOR is not code for The Summer of (Mom’s) Revenge, despite what the kids may tell you.  Our summer will be filled with tons of fun activities, including a beach vacation, a whitewater rafting trip, a week in NY, a surprise MLB All-Star weekend, plus two more weeks of sports camp and countless hours at the pool club.  By summer’s end, the boys will be tan, tired and (hopefully) more self-reliant and independent.  Sounds like the perfect summer to me.

– LJDT

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