The vast amount of knowledge I have gained as a parent has surprised me and continues to deliver awe on a daily basis. I have learned to admit when I am wrong and how to apologize, that I must pick my battles and can’t solve everything, and how to take better care of myself because there is someone else who depends on me. And to anyone who believes I am terribly irresponsible today, the beer, the cussing and wearing my shoes on the furniture, should have met me ten years ago, I was so much more FUN!
The latest lesson from my seven year-old son, Azul, was in Linguistics. I have been a huge advocate for the Dual Language program at school and completely support his multi-lingual pursuits at all levels.
His question was, “Do you know how to say, ‘no’ in (insert various language here)?”
My answer to each language he presented was shockingly, “No.”
He impressively went through five different languages correctly and then finally came to his last language asking, “Do you know how to say, ‘no’ in Gangster?”
I didn’t immediately answer, and a million thoughts of my young life living in Albuquerque’s South Valley flashed before me. After a short pause I said … wait for it, “No.”
If you are unfamiliar with how to say “no” in Gangster, consider yourself schooled.
I never set out to be a stay-at-home mom, it just kind of happened. Most of my son’s life I have worked. I worked while I was pregnant, I worked through his infancy, and I was working on his first day of Pre-school (way back in 2011). Things are now different and I am not reporting to a job in the traditional sense. This summer Azul, my five year-old, was my job, and like many of my other jobs, I took it very seriously.
Azul was on Summer Break from school and now a stay-at-home kid, and I was not working and therefore a stay-at-home mom. Our circumstances and titles brought us together, but the last thing we were going to do was stay at home!
This is when “Mommy Mania” began. I set out from the beginning to do as much as possible and expose him to as many learning experiences as I could. The learning was actually the easy part because at this age any experience is a learning one, the doing was harder. We tried to get out of the house at least five times a week, some weeks were better than others, and then there were the lazy, all day in our pajamas days too. But overall we got dressed, ready and were out and about!
Ready, set, go…Let the madness begin!
The first day of Summer Break, the first thing we did, first thing in the morning was play putt-putt. We were the first ones there, just before 10 a.m. when they opened. We golfed two games of 18 holes, had pizza and soda, because Azul was starving at 10:30 in the morning and ready for lunch, and acted as if we hadn’t eaten breakfast just two hours earlier. This was the first time Azul had putt-putted, a nice way to kick off Mommy Mania.
There were some activities we really took advantage of and did a lot, like play dates, going out to lunch, feeding the ducks at various duck ponds around town, catching the first matinée showings at the movie theater, lots of baseball games at the Albuquerque Isotopes Stadium, eating gallons of ice cream, and Azul’s favorite, pool time.
We attended weekly activities at the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Library where Azul’s Daddy works. And discovered he now wants to be a Librarian just like his Daddy.
He participated in gymnastics classes, swimming classes, and one of the coolest Summer Programs around. He was involved in a production of the Sound of Music performed solely by children in grades k-8.
We were lucky enough to be able to go out-of-town a few times this summer. Azul and I visited my Aunt Jeannette’s pecan farm in southern New Mexico, where we lived the farm life for a couple of days and went to a Rodeo in El Paso one night. Our family camped at Cochiti Lake in New Mexico and spent a week at Waikiki Beach in Hawaii. Azul was surprised how quick our red-eye flight was coming back compared to the trip over, saying, “They didn’t even have the movie or serve us any drinks it was so fast!” Of course, although he adamantly denies it, he slept for the entire flight home.
Azul did earn some money this summer at a yard sale we held with our neighbors. He picked some old toys he didn’t play with anymore, set them out in the morning and worked the sale when people came by to peer at our goods. He was quite the salesman and able to keep all the money he made.
Because of the warm and sometimes really hot weather in Albuquerque it is easy to enjoy the outdoors by walking and biking the Bosque Trail. At other times we visited the Albuquerque Botanic Garden, Albuquerque Aquarium and Tingley Aquatic Park. While at Tingley we rented a pedal boat and were able to pedal around while followed by a flock of ducks! And we loved seeing all the baby animals at the Rio Grande Zoo.
When it was too hot, we spent hours at The Natural History Museum and Explora Science Center, the hands-on children’s museum. My favorite indoor activity was going roller skating! I don’t think I had been skating in over twenty years and I know that was Azul’s first skating experience. Every time we knocked each other down, off our skates, it took us a while to get up because we were laughing so hard. One day, courtesy of PBS, we even met The Cat In The Hat.
Then there was our trip to Cliff’s Amusement Park, where after riding every ride his height allowed, we rode the roller coaster eight more times — IN A ROW! We also went to an indoor playground called Monkey Mania. I preferred it when we took a friend with us, then I didn’t have to slouch through the spongy maze made for little people who actually wanted to do this.
One of the last things on the list was to visit a Fire Station. I got ahold of an old friend from high school (so, yes, old) who was a firefighter and he set up a tour for Azul. He got to sit in the truck, pull the horn, turn on the lights and even got to talk on the PA system at the station. All he kept saying was, “cool,” over and over. When we left, I asked him if he wanted to be a Fireman when he grew up and he replied, “No I still want to be a Librarian and work at the Library.”
I will never be able to repeat this summer, but it was fun while it lasted, and although it is still August, sunny and 90 degrees outside, with our last trip to get mani-pedis together, my summer solstice has set. Mommy Mania has come to an end and my constant companion is now going to All-day Kindergarten. Whew, I’m tired!
The weeks leading up the start of school were bittersweet for me. Tears rolled down my cheeks more than once while I reflected on how fortunate I was to spend so much time with Azul and looked to the future where there is less time for us to be together. In his beautiful attempt to comfort me he said, “You might get lucky and when I get sick you will have some bonus days with me!”
My little friend will soon be six years old, in his new school, with his summer experiences under his belt and new titles to claim, he is moving on. And I am returning to my old title of stay-at-home mom and get to look forward to sick days?! Ugh…