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July 20, 2013

Eight simple goals for summer

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The Daily Star

---- — After a spastic end to the academic year, summer is finally here.

In honor of this enervating season, one that makes me simply want to swan around on the couch and eat ice cream, I’ve narrowed my goals for the next eight weeks to those that seem easy to accomplish.

Goal No. 1: Get the children to close the dang door when they enter or leave the house.

I’ve given up on getting them to stop tracking in mud and pine needles. I can live with the pine cones my daughter still insists on collecting cluttering up the back table. I’ve even given up on keep that back table clean enough to find my keys. All I’m focused on now is the door. Just reach behind you, children, and pull it shut.

Simple, yes? And yet I still find myself shouting the word “DOOR” over and over again each and every time they blithely leave it ajar.

Goal No. 2: Find out why the Girl’s hair always looks like it has never been brushed.

I watch her brush it. I look away for five seconds and it again looks like it has never known the touch of a grooming device. This is the summer I will get to the bottom of this mystery.

Goal No. 3: Torture the children by making them do things that aren’t a) playing computer games or b) watching YouTube videos.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m OK with a certain amount of mindless entertainment during the summer. I intend to rot my own brain with “Deadliest Catch” reruns. (Don’t judge.)

But I’d be failing as a parent if I didn’t occasionally make the kids put their mighty intellect to work. We used a recent road trip back from Cape Cod to force the Boy to do math. Each time he asked how much longer we’d be in the car, we used road signs to set up problems. If Albany is the next big city and it’s 65 miles away and we are at mile marker 128, approximately how much further will it be? And, since we have your attention, what is the velocity of an unladen swallow? You’ll find that funnier later, we assured him.

Eventually, he just stopped asking.

Goal No. 5: Work out what the Boy is talking about when he is talking about video games.

My electronic game knowledge maxed out at Donkey Kong. While I had a brief period in the mid-1990s where I was addicted to Myst, my skillz are far from mad, as the kids would say.

The Boy, however, is an obsessive about Mario and Minecraft. He loves to tell me all about the neat new thing the developers have added. Mom! he’ll holler. The new MarioKart has a frazzjabbler that can whizzwang! But it’s only on the DSPSi 4000! Can we get a DSPSi 4000?

My standard answer is “no,” mostly because a DSPSi sounds expensive. Still, it would be nice to know what one is.

Goal No. 6: Require both kids to maintain a path from their bedroom doors to their actual beds.

I can let personal hygiene slide in the summer, especially when they are in and out of various pools all day long. But I do need to be able to walk from the door to their beds, if only to turn out the light left on when they crashed into sleep. Stepping on various books, half-opened nail polish containers and the aforementioned pine cones is about as much fun in the summer as it is in the winter. Less so, actually, because my feet are bare.

Goal No. 7: Resolve to put all flip-flops in the shoe bin by the back door. Or, failing that, resolve to let the kids live with the consequences.

Lucy the dog can’t resist anything that smells like feet, which is simply more proof that dogs are disgusting. Cute and lovable, yes, but icky.

She loves to carry around, then destroy, any object of footwear, from socks to snow boots. Her favorite, however, is the lowly flip-flop, because they are light and fun to chew. Part of my summer routine is to fling any kid flip-flops I find into the cardboard box we keep by the door, simply because I don’t want to deal with buying new ones — and my yelling “SHOES” does about as much good as yelling “DOOR.”

Just know that when you see my kids walking barefoot around town, it’s their own faults.

Goal No. 8: Find out where my little Girl went.

Last summer, her walls were covered with cute animal pictures. Now they are covered with pop band posters. How this happened isn’t a mystery; not really. It just seems to have happened so quickly while we were busy with the tyranny of everyday life.

I can think of no better time to slow down and appreciate where each child is in his or her life, because it all moves so quickly.

Adrienne Martini is a freelance writer, instructor at the State University College at Oneonta, mom to Maddy and Cory, wife to Scott, and author of “Sweater Quest.” Her columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/parentingimperfect.