Spoiler alert: this article is going to upset people who still have children at home for the entire summer, so if you can't hack it, exit this site immediately. It's not my fault you forgot to plan for your own sanity.
On a pleasant sunny Monday morning last week, we put our children in the van -- along with a three week supply of clothes and other necessities -- and ceremoniously dropped them off at a rendesvous point with all sorts of their friends. Minutes later, a big cushy bus pulled up and all the kids got on it, followed my several neurotic parents (not me, but yes, my husband). Those of us who sanely stood on the shady sidewalk waved to our contained children.
And we waved some more. And some more. And some more.
Finally, 45 minutes later, the neurotic parents were off the bus and the damn bus finally pulled away. Swiss-precision timing never made it to Israel. Forty-five minutes late is considered ON-TIME.
Within seconds of that bus moving on to the street, the entire gaggle of parents burst into cheers. I am not going to name anyone because it could prompt a lawsuit or two. I cheered particularly loud because all of my three children were on that bus and that bus was headed north for three weeks.
When I told people over the course of the next few days that all my kids were in camp, I was met with the dewey-eyed look of barely hidden envy. And I must admit, I was feeling pretty darn superior. Forget money. Forget weight. Forget brains. Forget the size of your house. Forget style. If you want to feel the glare of envy from everyone you meet, all you have to do is stick your kids on a bus that doesn't return for three weeks.
For the first few days I was so busy putting our lives back in order after the craziness of our landscaping-from-hell project and my son's bar mitzvah that I really didn't have the time to miss the kids. I was so glad that they weren't underfoot while I was preoccupied.
However, some where around Friday, I started to notice a few things that made me stop and reconsider:
1) my dog is depressed because no one has roughed her up in five days. No one has played "go catch" with her and no one has lain on the floor speaking in tongues to her for days. Her life is so empty.
2) my house is so clean that I barely recognize the place. The sinks are empty. The counters are food and crumb free. There are three items in the dirty-laundry basket. The kids bedrooms are exactly how they normally look for five minutes after the cleaning lady leaves. I am a little concerned about what my cleaning lady is going to do next week.
3) no one has told me I am ruining their lives for five days. Therefore, I am feeling like I haven't had a very productive week. Ruining someone's life takes careful, precision-thinking and weeks of planning. Of course, my kids think I do it as a hobby, but at least for now, my hobby is on hold.
4) my phone never rings. Normally I would consider that a blessing since I have developed phone issues over my adult life but right now I am starting to miss being interrupted by a barrage of stupid kid calls that come in three-minute intervals during most of the hours that my kids are home.
5) I only spent 300 nis in the grocery store as opposed to my usual 1200-1300 nis. I didn't recognize my grocery cart when I pulled up at the cashier's station. I don't think my cashier recognized it either. There was barely any food in the cart. After replentishing my cleaning supplies and disposable dishes, all that was there were some tubs of yogurt and cottage cheese, vegetables, fruit, one tub of expensive ice cream and water. What a sad little cart that was.
While these five considerations never arose until after the kids were gone, I just have one thing to add: I AM ENJOYING THESE THREE WEEKS WITH WILD ABANDON. I'll even explain why in a few weeks when the fun is over and I have had time to reflect on my slice of heaven.