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Summer Is Over, School Begins Again

Aug 20, 2012 • family

It's been way too long since I last wrote an entry on this blog. I hope to get back into a more regular rhythm. The summer has ended and the kids are returning to school. Callie will enter the second grade tomorrow; Avery is going into sixth grade, and Lucy is going into kindergarten. Mollie is about ready to turn two.

The summer was a good one, with no major accidents or calamities. Lucy learned to ride a bicycle. Avery participated on swim team for a while and then needed a break. The kids sat around and rested, played at the park, went swimming, rode their bikes, and did all the fun things kids do during the summer.

I'm not going to recap all of summer here. During the past week, Shannon attended Education Week at BYU. She was initially planning to just take a vacation but actually ended up attending a lot of classes. The classes involved topics such as organization, health and nutrition, finance, parenting, etc. She came home with renewed enthusiasm for her goals and plans. Already she has put together a slick dinner menu for the week, with various categories of food for each day.

Shannon's mom and sister watched the kids for much of the week, though I did end up taking a couple of vacation days. Although Shannon was in learning mode at Education Week, I realized a few things as well. First, although Molly did cry a bit for her Mom and wanted her several times, by and large she seemed to forget her and was happy in the moment. She is surrounded by her three sisters and father, so it's not as if her whole family disappeared. But Molly seemed fairly happy even without Mom right there.

However, Shannon kept asking about Molly during the week and really missed her more than any other person in our family, it seems. I realized that it is a privilege to be a parent, to have the opportunity to care for children during the time they are in your house. Kids could easily transfer their affection to another parent if one is absent. Other adults could probably replace me and do a better job.

But because parents are constantly serving, we feel more emotionally bonded to our children. We love the people we serve, and no one serves more than a parent -- constantly cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring, playing, and raising/nurturing/caring for a child. I think as a parent I often assume children should be grateful for all the work we do, that they should be distraught without me. Not so. We are distraught without them.

In lighter matters, my rules of discipline are much more lenient than Shannon's. I would be happy if the kids just cleaned their rooms. I'll clean the rest of the house. Shannon is convinced that each child needs to pitch in to care for the communal living areas (helping, for example, by unloading the dishes). Children who participate in regular chores are supposedly happier as as adults (according to studies). But I would rather have kids focus more on achieving their own goals -- their real goals, not chore or responsibility goals that parents set (such as picking up, bathing regularly, etc.).

At this time in their lives, each of our children has clear goals and needs. Avery wants to write a book. She drips with creativity and is years ahead of her siblings with her reading and writing skills. She has a lot of talent and will apply it if given the chance. Callie wants to learn to fall asleep earlier so she isn't up half the night. She also wants to learn how to calm herself when she gets into a temper tantrum. Lucy needs to work on pronunciation. She still has a few letters that she's not naturally learning to say correctly. Her speech isn't bad, but she needs to work on a few things. Molly is pretty much a perfect baby with no special goals other than making sure she eats enough.

I have goals too. At the beginning of the year I weighed 240. Now I'm down to 205. I didn't realize how much better life is without that 35 pounds. My goal is to get down to 190. Little by little, the weight comes off. About a pound every week and a half. Riding my bike to work has helped me meet my calorie goals regularly. Somehow, when I exercise, I'm not as hungry and I can stay within the calorie range. When I don't exercise, I feel like I have to starve myself to stay within the calorie range (which usually means I don't).

I also had a goal to get out of debt and to complete the research for a book I'm writing on findability. So far only the weight goal has produced real results. As far as I can tell, the only thing I'm doing is counting my calories, and I'm not even doing that so well anymore.

I need to exert more effort cleaning the house, going to bed earlier, and reading my scriptures more regularly, but since none of these duties seems to translate into a goal that is tangible with its results, it's harder to measure.

One thing I've noticed about staying up late --- it makes my eyes dry out, and then they itch a lot. So I'm typing this post with my eyes mostly shut.

It's geting late. Another year is beginning, and I need to get some rest.

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. Topics I write about on this blog include technical writing, authoring and publishing tools, API documentation, tech comm trends, visual communication, technical writing career advice, information architecture and findability, developer documentation, and more. If you're a professional or aspiring technical writer, be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here.