Yes, you should be reading that title with the Beach Boys' song in your head.
We've got a week and a half of summer vacation to go which means then I go back to work and Maya goes back to school (3rd grade, woo hoo!).
Usually a little sense of dread accompanies me during Maya's summer vacation. Things always get a little bit tough when Maya's school routine is broken, last summer we had quite a time.
I have learned some lessons since then and this summer we played it a less loosey goosey trying to stick more to a routine and that has helped. But to be honest I think the big difference is that Maya has matured an awful lot over the past year. She has a much greater sense of what is going on around her and can deal better with change. She knows that summer vacation is 6 weeks and after that 6 weeks she will return again to school. Summer vacation no longer seems like a black hole to her, she understands that it is temporary and that things might be a bit off for a while, but because they will resume again, she can deal with it much better.
Plus, we spent oodles of time preparing her for what would happen from week to week. And we have tried to put focus points on each week to give her something to look forward to. And all that seems to have helped.
I also think that Leo and I taking a longer period off from work has made a difference too. Leo was off for 3.5 weeks and me for a full month. We've both had a lot of quality time with her instead of trying to make quality time that thing you do between coming home from work, cooking dinner and taking out the trash. There have been lazy mornings with lots of joking and tickling, afternoons by the pool or playing, movie evenings and just a lot of relaxed time spent together.
And two weeks sipping wine and eating pate by the pool in the French countryside doesn't hurt either.
Maya did so well during our vacation, not one meltdown, not one situation we couldn't talk her out of. We changed up plans on her and had no schedule and she did great with it. Most days we ate our main meal at lunchtime, spending a good 2 hours in a restaurant and she really was great with it. She sat, ate, didn't run around and only got up from the table somewhere near dessert and always stayed in our sights when she did so. We were careful and tried to structure the days more or less the same, relaxing in the morning, leaving mid morning to drive to a nearby town to explore, a short amount of time walking around, a leisurely lunch, shopping and then home to swim and sticking close to home in the evening.
At the house we rented the owners run a B&B in the main house, for 4 days there was a Belgian family there with their two kids, a little girl of 4 and a little boy of 6. Although many Belgians speak Flemish which is basically a Dutch dialect (or vice versa, I can never remember which), the kids did run around a little. When Maya was swimming these kids were very quick to grab her toys without asking and were not very eager to give them back but she stayed calm and walked over to them and asked them, could I please get my bubbles back or you can have the yellow ball and I'll take the blue ball.
I was so proud of her. My girl taking the high road.
The owners also have, since the last time we were there, gotten a dog. When we saw him on the first day, the alarm bells went off in my head, Maya loves dogs to a point of obsession and I immediately pictured two weeks of Maya chasing that dog everywhere and us spending two weeks saying, "Maya leave the dog alone." as we did on another vacation a few years ago. But Maya was great with the dog, always asking the owners if it was okay to play with the dog and if their kitchen door was closed, Maya left the dog alone. Of course when she would wander downstairs half asleep in the mornings the first thing she asked was if she could play with the dog and I would always try to hold her inside to give the owners and the dog a little peace but she was very good about it. And at the end of the visit they told us it was great having a child who knew how to approach a dog and how wonderful it was that they didn't have to keep the dog entertained with Maya around. They complimented her and were very generous about it, remarking to both Leo and I a few different times on how far Maya has come in the two years since they saw her last. Now perhaps this was all politeness but I never saw a single look pass from those owners (and trust - I am an expert at recognizing the looks).
Since we've been home everything's been great too. Maya is happy and easy, she's playing often with the kids next door. The little girl from next door has been over at our house twice, each time staying for about 6 hours and I've not once had to intervene to settle a conflict, they've not had one fight and they have played together the whole time and tonight for the very first time she will sleep over.
For me personally, it's been wonderful to just be a mom rather than a working mom and have nothing to do but take care of my girl, my family and our house. It's been so relaxing not to have to fit everything in on the weekends or evenings, when I am so dog tired. It's been great getting my house in better order and doing some cleaning that really gets overlooked most of the year. It's been wonderful being able to do all that at my own pace and still have time for myself. I'm about to finish my 5th book of the summer.
I know that many parents, myself included, are a bit glad when summer is over and school resumes again. It's tough finding childcare for the summer if you work, most working parents sew a quilt of sorts made up of day camps, relatives, friends and family vacations, but despite the warm weather and the fun, kids get bored or they go a little stir crazy without the regular routine.
There's been none of that this year for us. It's just us and our happy girl, who is growing up, understanding more, maturing but still remaining our sweet, happy, over-the-top joyful girl.
I've enjoyed every single second.