Two more days of Bambina Vacation till camp starts on Monday. I'm really looking forward to it on two levels. First, on a parental level, because I know she gets so much benefit from being around other kids--and camp this year includes swimming lessons, which are best left to the pros rather than the Mama; and secondly, on a selfish level, because I have been missing those 4 hours in the morning to do grown-up stuff like think for a minute in silence, speak without interruption, and conduct personal grooming activities in more than 4 minutes.
But this vacation has been total fun. We hung out in Boston.
We visited museums.
We installed our Obama For President lawn sign.
Bambina insists it says, "Welcome, Barack Obama, to Our House!"
We played on our moon bounce and in our paddling pool. We planted basil, watermelon and tomato plants (well, she and the BBDD did, since gardening is still on the list of dangerous fungal-producing activities designed to kill transplant survivors). We drew about 100 works of art. Created our own paper dolls and dress-up game. Wrote some songs, mostly about going to the beach, visiting the Traveling Wilburys, and how her stuffed sheep is so stinky. (Bambina has a "songwriting notebook" in which she writes pages and pages of "La La La Las" while singing her own songs). We went grocery shopping, which is not a vacation activity per se, but it was total fun. My previous grocery outings with Bambina occurred when she was 2 years old, and those were exercises in sprinting through the store before a meltdown, naptime, or some other reason why the last 15 minutes of the trip would be the definition of stress. Now that she's 4, she just loves to help and loves pretending to read the labels and loves having some autonomy about what we buy. (By autonomy I mean I give her two kinds of yogurt and she picks which one she wants). To be sure, we do end up with about $10 worth of stuff I wouldn't have purchased without her present, but it's worth it to have her along and to see her sense of accomplishment when the lady rings up "her" purchases.
Most importantly this vacation, we had a few playdates. Bambina has missed out on playdates over the past year because I couldn't take her and the BBDD works during the day. So a lot of the kids in her preschool have connections outside of the classroom that I want to forge for Bambina. The only downside of my kid having a playdate, however, is that I have to be there too. Which is not a cut on the kids. I absolutely love having Bambina's friends come to our house; I missed out on it for so long that I genuinely enjoy seeing her and her very cute friends playing together. In fact, I hope our house becomes, for Bambina's entire lifetime, a place where she and her friends will gather. So it's not the home invasion aspect of things; that I love. For me the issue is the concomitant necessity for me to have a playdate with the moms. Which, again, is not a cut on the moms at all. They are all totally nice and enjoyable to visit with. But you know how being "the new kid" is less fun and more work at first? How first interactions with potential friends do take effort until they become, over time, effortless? That's where I am socially with the moms. They've all had a full year to become friends, to the extent that they travel together as families in some cases. And here I am, with two weeks left till summer vacation, showing up and trying to make friends with the clique. Which I'm more than up to doing; don't get me wrong. Socializing is on my resume. But it's just something I have to talk myself through beforehand, accepting that you have to put yourself out there when you are the new person in a sea of old friends, that you have to bring all of your conversational skills to bear, that you are not always going to have a love connection with the mom of the kid with whom your kid has a love connection.
On the bright side, at least with the moms I've been hanging out with, there is less drama about food and child safety than there was with the moms in DC. That has been a relief. Before the kids came over I called the moms to ask about allergies, approved snacks, etc. And I could tell from their reaction that they were a) grateful for the allergy question, but b)puzzled by the rest of my questions. Like, "serve whatever food you have for a snack; chips are fine. (what's with this chick?)" So when they arrived I explained that in my previous life people were a little more controlling in regards to what their kids ate. Every one of the moms said that she'd never presume to tell another mom what to serve in her house, and barring constant playdates with constant intakes of sugar, whatever the kid eats one time on one day won't kill her. THAT has been such a relief. So my go-to snack of choice is now: a pear or peach fruit cup, cheese and crackers, and teddy grahams. Every kid (and mom, for that matter) has cleaned us out with that on the menu. And, it makes me look a little bit like I care. ;)
The other important thing we did this vacation is read a ton of books. We read all the time, but we really set aside time each day of vacation to just sit and read. Some new and old favorites:
The Peter Books.
Our newest one is Whistle for Willie, but we devour all of these Ezra Jack Keats works: The Snowy Day, Peter's Chair, A Letter For Amy.
Bambina's summary: "I love Peter."
Frog and Toad Are Friends.
In which Frog (the easygoing one) interacts with his friend Toad (the easily-flustered one) to great enjoyment for kids everywhere.
Bambina's summary: "So much drama all the time with Toad!"
The Biscuit books.
We have about eight of the Biscuit books right now. All those kids looking for a copy at the local library? Sorry! These are really simple books about Biscuit the puppy, and how he gets his name, finds a friend, meets the new baby, etc. Each page contains about two sentences, and are perfect for beginning readers in their simplicity. For example, Bambina can now identify the word "woof" on a page, which thrills me. She loves these stories.
Bambina's summary: "I want a puppy too."
Mr. Putter and Tabby Run the Race.
In which senior citizen Mr. Putter and is neighbor Mrs. Teaberry run a senior marathon. Only, Mr. Putter "hasn't run in 30 years" and would rather drink tea with Tabby than work out. This book is so well-written for beginning readers, the illustrations are fantastic, and the storyline is humorous (even for adults) without being obnoxious like many other books for kids. Suffice to say, we're about to go to the library and empty their inventory of Mr. Putter and Tabby books (there are tons of them).
Bambina's summary: "I like to read this on the potty."
Whether at work or on vacation, I can think of no better recommendation than that.